Social Media Screening: Ways to Do It Properly
5 mins read

Social Media Screening: Ways to Do It Properly

The lines between personal and professional lives are increasingly blurred on social media. Using social media screening in hiring allows employers to get a more complete picture of candidates and prevent mis-hires. However, several ethical concerns can arise from social media screening. Organizations need to set clear and standardized guidelines for this type of screening.

Determine What You Want to Know

Determining what you want in a social media background check is important. During this process, you can uncover pictures of candidates in compromising situations, violent or racist comments, or drug-related content. A social media screen can also reveal cyber security concerns that could impact your business.

While these concerns are important, you must also be mindful that using a social media background check for every candidate isn’t appropriate. It’s easy to cross the line into snooping, which may violate privacy or anti-discrimination laws. Also, you can’t compare content on different platforms – for example, it would be unfair to judge what someone posts on Twitter or Instagram as equal to their LinkedIn activity. 

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Set Your Screening Goals

When screening for social media, it’s important to have clear goals. It will help you be more efficient and prevent snooping from turning into a biased, subjective review. Like other background checks, social media checks must abide by all applicable federal, state, and local regulations involving permission, privacy, and accuracy. In addition, companies specializing in this type of screening must follow pre and final adverse action processes, following federal FCRA notice requirements and any relevant state or industry-specific laws.

Despite these issues, it’s still a valid tool for many HR professionals who believe the views and opinions posted on social media are public domain information and that they can provide valuable insight into a candidate’s potential to perform on the job. However, it’s also important to keep in mind the comfort levels of young people when undergoing social media screening and the issues that can arise as a result. It will require that you set standardized guidelines for each search and be prepared to address any concerns your team may have.

Create a Search Strategy

Social media screening is becoming increasingly common in hiring and is a great way to discover more about candidates beyond what’s included on their resume or revealed during an interview. But with privacy concerns and potential legal liabilities at play, it’s important for employers to carefully consider how they will conduct this type of check before using the tool. An accurate social media background check can efficiently spot warning signs and gauge a candidate’s cultural fit. It can also help verify job-related credentials and professional affiliations. However, it’s important to remember that social media sites are designed as personal spaces where people share their private lives with friends and family. Many candidates may view a potential employer’s search of their online profiles as an invasion of their privacy and could be offended. As such, it’s important to notify candidates of the intent and purpose of the search and obtain consent before conducting a review.

Conduct Your Searches

Social media screening should be a part of your comprehensive hiring process. It can help you find candidates that fit well with your company culture and meet your hiring criteria. However, it’s important to remember that this method isn’t a replacement for traditional background checks or assessments. Social profiles may be a snapshot of someone, but they rarely provide the full picture. For example, many people use apps like X or TikTik to post about their personal lives and share experiences and anecdotes. These posts wouldn’t make sense for a professional profile, so they will unlikely provide significant information about a candidate’s work ethic or character.

In addition, it’s not uncommon for job seekers to complain about their current employer or coworkers on social media. These complaints may negatively affect candidates and hurt their chances of getting hired. When conducting social media screening, it’s crucial only to review public content and avoid sensitive keywords such as race, religion, sex, age, drug use, political affiliations and other protected class information. By following these best practices, you can avoid legal issues and maintain compliance with privacy laws.

Review Your Results

When evaluating candidates, employers need to balance uncovering important information and respecting the privacy rights of job applicants. Social media screening, or cyber vetting, is one-way companies mitigate hiring risks and make smart hiring decisions. However, it’s important to remember that most social media platforms are designed as personal spaces, and searching them for professional content can feel invasive to job seekers. It can lead to a distrust of the screening process and raise concerns about discrimination.

It’s also crucial to keep in mind that some personal details cannot be considered during a social media screening, such as race, religion, age, or gender. This type of information can be regarded as a protected class, and an employer that violates these regulations could face a lawsuit. For these reasons, it’s vital to work with a qualified partner who will ensure search parameters comply with state and federal laws. In addition, it’s important to use social media screening in conjunction with other forms of pre-employment screening, such as personality assessments and skills tests.

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