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 15 Jan, 2018
The following is an excerpt from CNN published published January 15, 2018:
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