Social Media Employment Screening: 6 Red Flags It Can Help Uncover

Social Media Employment Screening: 6 Red Flags It Can Help Uncover
Marketing Specialist

I am certain everyone has read or heard somewhere about how significantly the Internet and social media have altered the way we interact with one another. Social media gained prevalence in 2004 when Mark Zuckerberg prescribed us the drug we today call Facebook. Its progressive nature has integrated not only into our daily lives, but it has also extended into our professional lives and transformed the way employers screen and evaluate prospective employees.

With the abundance of information lurking around in the social stratosphere, it is now easier than ever to collect supplementary information on job candidates. Social media can potentially unveil possible threats such as illegal and violent activity, racism/intolerance and sexually explicit material.

Last year, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) statistics revealed 77% of employers are “increasingly using social networking sites for recruiting, primarily as a way to attract passive job candidates.” In addition, 20% use these social sites – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etcetera. – or search engines like Google to extend beyond traditional background screening. Moreover, 69% of recruiters have rejected candidates based on the content found on their social networking profiles. This comprehensive research helps employers assess and track candidates beyond the interview room.

Social Media Observations From 900+ Hiring Managers

  1. 50% displayed salacious photos and information of themselves
  2. 48% posted information about soliciting drugs and alcohol
  3. 33% spoke poorly of their previous employer
  4. 30% portrayed poor communication skills
  5. 28% made blasphemous remarks related to race, gender, etcetera
  6. 24% lied about their job qualifications and competencies

Not only can these social networking sites help disclose risks that can result in costly ramifications, social media monitoring can potentially help save your facility time and improve employee retention rates. This practice, however, is not without its dangers from a legal and compliance perspective.

Although they can offer some advantages, social media recruiting and screening practices have made it tricky for employers because of “protected class” information safeguarded by the United States Federal anti-discrimination law – which states that information regarding a candidate’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex (or gender), age (over 40), and disability cannot be used against him or her when final hiring decisions are made. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would be expected to crack down on recruiters for not getting authorization and providing disclosure for performing social media screening. There also needs to be a clear delineation between the person doing the research and the person making the hiring decision.

Important Considerations To Avoid Legal Actions

  • Compose a strict written policy for using social media
  • Ensure social media and screening policies are aligned
  • Respect applicants’ privacy -- you should never ask for login credentials
  • Comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
  • Consider industry-specific legislation (e.g., legislation for healthcare practitioners that emphasizes looking at various tools for screening)

Social media is not just a fad; it’s here and growing faster than ever. As mentioned earlier, 77% of recruiters have taken advantage of this growing opportunity to dive into the existing pool of publicly available data floating in social space. This may not be something for everyone; but if it is something you would like to incorporate into your current process, consider both the benefits and risks of social media screening before adopting this practice. With regulators such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) scrutinizing employer’s use of background checks and an influx of federal FCRA litigation, can your organization justify this practice for your hiring process? 

PreCheck Background Screening Resource Kit