This is the fourth in a four-part series of articles—"How To Screen"—that explores the challenges that HR faces when screening different levels of employees and helps informs employers what they should be looking for.
So far we've looked at how age and experience levels often determine the nature and intensity of your search. Today, we're considering how the type of job someone is applying for also factors into what you are analyzing online. Specifically, we're looking and the on-demand economy; fast-rising and successful companies like Lyft, Seamless, and Postmates in this platform-based "gig sector" employ 14% of all Americans in some capacity.
What do we know about these employees demographically? According to a Burson Marsteller survey, the majority of them are young (18-34), male (61%), and tend to live in big cities. They also, according to the survey, report making more and more money from these on-demand jobs every year.
So, if you're a platform-based on-demand company, offering a quick service or good to someone with the press of a button, how are you to best screen candidates for these gig jobs? The first thing to remember is that extreme scrutiny is very important. These people are potentially being sent into homes, driving cars, and babysitting kids. Attention to detail is important; just because your HR department may be vast, distant, and never meet these employees, doesn't mean they shouldn't screen their social media carefully; do they exhibit behavioral red flags, like violence, drug abuse, or hate filled beliefs through their social content? You can find this out easily and mitigate a lot of risk. Furthermore, these are people representing your company and brand in the field; for better or worse, they are your ambassadors. If they have public social media content that illustrates poor judgement, or values that do not align with your company or culture, that can be extremely problematic and telling of greater issues down the road.
Another thing to remember is that because of these people's age, you can assume they are active in at least some form of social media and as a result there will probably be a lot of noise to sift through; they'll simply have more content across the platforms than any other group. Folks under 30 are probably going to have some alcohol or perhaps even drug-related content. It's up to you to determine if the quantity and nature of these posts is a disqualifying factor. Furthermore, what you might deem as "bad language" may have a different context for people in their teens or early twenties, and may not be indicative of a true red flag. This is not to say you should be overly forgiving of younger candidates; if you come across anything related to bigotry or violence, that's a total no-go.
Another element to consider is: what specific traits are not permissible for the particular gig job someone is applying for? If they're a babysitter applicant, you'll want to be overly thorough in your examination of their social media; if they're a driver, you may not necessarily care about their bad language or controversial political opinions (as long as they are not inflammatory or out of control). As long as you are applying consistent values with your analysis of candidates, you should be just fine.
Intelligent and sensible scrutiny is key to finding the best people for on-demand jobs. The task of analysis may seem less important because you aren't seeing these people in an office every day (perhaps you'll never meet them at all), but considering they are the ones directly interacting with your customers, it is necessary to do a thorough social screening.