No Filter: Social Media in Public-sector Hiring

Siobhan Quigg


This essay analyzes how SM is used in hiring processes through a review of research in the private sector and the relevant policy in the public sector. This analysis presents three key findings: 1) there is a lack of policy related to SM screening in the public sector, 2) there is a lack of research on the use of SM in public sector hiring processes, and 3) there are potential areas of conflict between public sector values and the use of SM in hiring processes. Based on these findings, this essay advocates for further research and the development of a federal SM screening policy.

Full Text:



Bohnert, D., and Ross, H. R. (2010). The influence of social networking web sites on the evaluation of job candidates. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 13: 341-347.

CareerBuilder (April 28, 2016). Number of Employers Using Social Media to Screen Candidates Has Increased 500 Percent over the Last Decade. Retrieved from

CareerBuilder (June 26, 2014). Number of Employers Passing on Applicants Due to Social Media Posts Continues to Rise, According to New CareerBuilder Survey. Retrieved from

CBC News (Jan. 19, 2018). Don’t Check Facebook before hiring, says privacy commissioner. Retrieved from

CBSDFW (Nov. 2, 2016). How Social Media Can Cost Someone Their Job. Retrieved from

Clark, L. and Roberts, S. (2010) Employer’s Use of Social Networking Site: A Socially Irresponsible Practice. Journal of Business Ethics 95: 507-525. DOI 10.1007/s10551-010-0436-y

Comstock, C. (Jan, 24, 2011). Morgan Stanley Uses the “CiscoFatty” to teach its new hires how NOT to use Twitter and Facebook. Business Insider. Retrieved June 23, 2018

De Forest Molina, A. (2009) “Values in Public Administration and the Role of Organizational Culture” in International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior, 12(2), 266-279. Retrieved from https://search-proquest- 0406.

Government of Canada (2015). Best practices for unsupervised testing. Retrieved from

Government of Canada (2015). Structured reference check. Retrieved from

Government of Canada (2018). Public service staffing. Retrieved from

Gruzd, A., Jacobson, J., Mai, P., and Dubois, E. (2018). The State of Social Media in Canada 2017. Version 1.0 Ryerson University Social Media Lab. DOI: 10.5683/SP/AL8Z6R

Hampel, E. (2014). A bad hire can cost $50,000 – or more. Business Vancouver. Retrieved from

Jobvite (Feb. 17, 2015). Watch What you Post on Social Media. Retrieved from

Jobvite (2016). The Annual Social Recruiting Survey. Retrieved from

Kaplan, A. and Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons 53: 59-68. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003.

Kernaghan, K. (2011). Getting engaged: Public-service merit and motivation revisited. Canadian Public Administration, 54(1): 1-21.

Landers, R. and Schmidt, G. (2016) Social Media in Employee Selection and Recruitment: Theory, Practice, and Current Challenges. Springer. Retrieved from

Lindequist, E. (2006) “A Critical Moment: Capturing and conveying the evolution of the Canadian Public Service.” Canada School of Public Service. Retrieved from

Messersmith, M. (Nov. 2016). Why Social Media Screening is So Important. Signet: Pre-employment Screening. Retrieved June 23, 2018 from

Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). The halo effect: Evidence for unconscious alteration of judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(4), 250-256.

Peters, G. and Pierre, J. (1998). Governance without government? Rethinking Public Administration. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 8(2): 223-243.

Popkin. H. (March, 27, 2009) Get the skinny on Twitter’s “Cisco Fatty.” NBC News. Retrieved June 23, 2018 from

Public Service Commission of Canada (March 2011). Merit and non-partisanship under the Public Service Employment Act (2003). Retrieved from

Public Service Employment Act, Statues of Canada (2003, c.22). Retrieved from

Roulin, N. and Levashina, J. (2016) Impression Management and Social Media Profiles (pp. 223-248). Landers, R. and Schmidt, G. (eds) Social Media in Employee Selection and Recruitment: Theory, Practice, and Current Challenges. Springer. Retrieved from

Ruggs, E., Walker, S., Blanchard, A., and Gur, S. (2016) Online Exclusion: Biases That may Arise when Using Social Media in Talent (pp. 289-306). Landers, R. and Schmidt, G. (eds) Social Media in Employee Selection and Recruitment: Theory, Practice, and Current Challenges. Springer. Retrieved from

Salm, L. (June 15, 2017). 70% of employers are snooping candidates’ social media profiles. CareerBuilder. Retrieved from

Simons, T. (1995). Interviewing job applicants: How to get beyond first impressions. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 36(6), 21-27. Retrieved from Cornell University, School of Hospitality Administration site:

Suen, Hung-Yue (2018). How passive job candidates respond to social networking screening. Computers in Human Behaviour 85(2018): 396-404. Retrieved from

Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (2011). Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector. Retrieved from



  • There are currently no refbacks.