Don't Go All-In On Social Media Screening

  • By Mark Ridgeway
  • 06 Jul, 2017
social media for background screening

As of July 2015, there was approximately 7.3 billion people in the world.

·    There are 2.6 billion active social media users

·    Facebook has reached 2 billion users

·    LinkedIn has 500 million users

Considering these statistics, it’s no wonder that over 75% of hiring managers use social media to screen applicants. As I mentioned in last week’s article , Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc have allowed people (whether they realize it or not), to become their own brand managers. Every time you document a piece of your life, from your vacation, what you’re having for dinner, to what you like and share: it becomes part of your digital persona/brand.

But how much relevance should hiring managers really give to a candidate’s social media accounts? And is it putting employers in harm’s way from a legal standpoint, if they bypass traditional background checks in favor of social media only screening?

The Drawbacks

Lack of Transparency. When you interview a job applicant, you fully expect them to be prepared. They’ll have Googled the “Top 10 Interview Questions” and their answers will be as polished as their shoes. You know you probably aren’t seeing their true personality during the interview.

And if you can get access to their Facebook and/or LinkedIn page, you should probably assume you’re getting the polished version there too.

EVERYONE that has a social media account is aware of the privacy settings they can utilize to prevent “non-friends” from seeing their profile. There is a high probability that you won’t get a peek inside their account.

But let’s assume they have lowered their shields and you are able to view their digital world. If they’ve done their homework, they know you’ll be visiting their page and they have made sure to take down any incriminating party pics and inappropriate memes.

Now, you’ll see examples of them volunteering at the animal shelter and helping grandma make dinner.

In other words, social media allows them to present themselves however they want. It can lack authenticity and transparency. As a result, you could get very little useful information that might help you in the hiring process.

Legal Liability . Employers claim that they check the profiles as a means of gauging a candidate’s overall character, but the problem is that social media accounts also expose additional information that should not be used in hiring decisions, such as marital status, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, and whether or not the candidate has children.

A discrimination claim is not something you want to risk and it can get ugly very quickly for employers depending heavily on social media reviews during the hiring process.

Why Traditional Background Checks Are Still Relevant

Employment History & Professional License Verification. When you are hiring for a position that requires very specific experience, it’s important to know that they actually have the on-the-job skill set that you need. Falsifying resumes and job applications are fairly common. Background checks will confirm the experience and education they claim to have.

Criminal Background Check. First off, if you see evidence on Facebook of a candidate involved in criminal activity, the first thing you should question is their intelligence. They have complete control over their profile.

Standard criminal record checks are part of the traditional screening process and something that a social media review can’t be relied upon for relevant information.

Protection from Legal Liability. Aside from the many uses of traditional background checks, one of the most undervalued benefits is discrimination protection.

If you are using information gathered from social media to make hiring decisions, you’re playing a dangerous game. Accidentally using the wrong information could expose your company to a potential minefield of discrimination lawsuits.

Employment screening professionals can identify possible problems and report them before they surface, saving you a lot of financial and legal headaches.

Though there’s certainly a case for using social media as a way of looking at another side of your job applicants, it’s an imperfect process that could have negative consequences for your business. It’s best when paired up with using traditional background checks.

Employment screening professionals can help you quarterback the hiring process and create a smooth, problem free experience for all sides involved.

The CHC Blog

By Mark Ridgeway 19 Jul, 2017
As a business owner or HR professional you've been there: you’re at the tail end of a particularly difficult hiring process and you’ve finally found the right candidate for the job. It’s easy to say, “Phew! Glad that’s over,” and move forward with finalizing the details.

But before you do, you should really consider ordering a background check on your candidate of choice. Integrating a background check policy can really benefit and protect your company. Here are 5 reasons you should always run a background check:

1. Stronger hires = Saving Money

Don’t just rely on your “gut feeling.” The more you know about the candidate, the better you will be able to assess if he/she is a fit for the position and for your company. Talent acquisition is a struggle in nearly every industry, so make sure that you’re not cheating yourself out of any of the available information before extending an offer.

It’s important to point out that better hires often means less turnover. We know that turnover is typically the number one cost to employers. Save yourself from investing in the wrong employee for the job.

Aside from turnover costs, as was stated in a previous blog post Who Is Stealing From You , we know that upwards of $50 billion annually in cash and inventory is stolen by employees. Does your job candidate have a history of taking extra "perks" from previous employers?

2. Safer Work Evironment
Running a background check on potential employees before officially hiring them can aide in reducing workplace violence. As an employer, you’ve made a commitment to your current employees to operate a safe work environment. Don’t skip this important step in ensuring that safety.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), of the 4,679 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2014, 403 were workplace homicides. However it manifests itself, workplace violence is a major concern for employers and employees nationwide.

3.  Better Compliance in State & Federal Regulatory Requirements
A third-party background screening provider with in-house compliance expertise, can help your company properly create a screening solution. This not only satisfies your industry standards, but also state and federal regulatory requirements, which vary from state-to-state and by type of position you are staffing. Utilizing a partner that is a true expert in this field is important for the success of your company.

4.  Decrease the risk of being sued
Making a bad hiring decision can leave you and your company vulnerable to liability. Ordering a background check can help you find patterns in a person’s history. For example, if a potential employee has had multiple discrimination suits against them, you as an employer may be liable should the employee discriminate within your workplace. Being able to sort out candidates with these issues will help decrease the chances of a lawsuit.

5. Verifying Resumes
Does your candidate have the experience they claim? Do they really have the education and the professional licenses that are listed on their resume? A survey from CareerBuilder  of more than 2,500 hiring managers found that 56% have caught job candidates lying on their resumes.

Background checks can help you weed out the people that do not have the skills for the job. It also can help you verify that the candidate’s resume is valid.  Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to these discrepancies.

Requesting a background check for a prospective employee is perfectly within your rights as an employer. These background check reports can hold vital information that is relevant to your hiring decision. You wouldn’t choose to not gather all of the relevant information when making a different business decision, so don’t skimp here either. Take the time to do your homework and you’ll see the results!

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