Social Media Background Checks

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Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn have not only changed the way that we communicate but also the accessibility we have to better understanding one another personal and even professional point of views. While many employers are still learning the benefits to providing current employees with the opportunity to remain connected to the company and management, there has still to be an established balanced between an employer and job candidate. Recently state and federal laws have attempted to provide guidelines that benefit the business while still protecting employees and qualified job applicants. Taking the time to understand better this legal guidance enables companies to use social media information and monitor potential job candidates lawfully.

Some companies find including a social media check provides them with a more thorough search of a potential employee than they would receive from a resume, application or interview. It is important for companies to remember that local, state and federal laws prohibit any form of hiring discrimination by protecting citizens on things like age, gender, marital status, pregnancy, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, disability, and military status.Therefore it is important to know that some information obtained from reviewing a potential employee’s social media accounts may not be considered lawful, it is very important that companies use discretion.

Here are a few things to consider while checking candidates accounts:

  1. Always complete an  in person interview prior to investigating the candidates online profiles. This enables that you do not skew your questions based on information that was learned during an online search.
  2. Take the time to properly inform the candidate that a background check of their social media accounts will take place, this is check in just an addition to a standard background check.
  3. Have an outside reviewer, a person not involved in the employment decision making process, complete the review on social media accounts. This is important because it protects the interviewer from using bias towards a candidate.
  4. . Have a blanket company policy in regards to social media and hiring, ie. all potential employees undergo a background check or none, this will prevent any future discrimination issues
  5.  Keep all records used in the hiring decision process, while this is typically done in many cases, take the time to print out the social media sites that were used, including the time and date.

A company always wants to protect their culture and business so when the need arises to expand their team they need many opportunities to understand qualities of a potential employee. All forms of background checks have their limitations so adding social media account background checks gives employers an added element to better understand candidates. Due to the legal ramifications, it is important to use a third party that can separately vet the applicant’s social media account. There are ways to further understand applicants with social media tools it is just necessary to set the boundaries from the beginning of the search in order to maintain consistency.