Research from North Carolina State University shows companies that screen the social media accounts of job applicants alienate potential employees – making it harder for them to attract top job candidates. In some cases, social media screening even increases the likelihood that job candidates may take legal action against the offending company.

“The recruiting and selection process is your first indication of how you’ll be treated by a prospective employer,” says Will Stoughton, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the research. “If elite job prospects feel their privacy has been compromised, it puts the hiring company at a competitive disadvantage.”

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