While in some ways technology has made human interaction less personal, social media has connected the world as never before. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn allow for sharing and self-expression across a range of media and platforms. Employers are now using social media for recruitment and social media background screening – but it is not without potential legal hazards.
The main risks associated with using social media as a screening tool are issues with compliance. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) put forth strict rules and guidelines related to social media hiring and screening. Social media background screening should never be used in ways that violate the applicant’s rights. As with any type of screening procedure, candidates cannot be ruled out for reasons related to race, religion, gender, etc.
Other considerations for using social media background screening properly and mitigating risk include:
Inform the Applicant and get consent. Candidates should be informed if this (and any) type of screening will be used in the hiring decision.
Stay Focused. The employer should only search for information that is relevant to their potential effectiveness or fit as a new hire in the company.
Public Profiles Only. Employers should only look at already-public profiles. They should not ask for passwords or to be “friended” to gain access to the applicant’s private groups or accounts.
Conduct this Screening Late in the Process. Ideally, social media background screening should not be used as a primary consideration. It should be conducted as late in the process as possible.
Consistency. Employers should use the same screening procedures and standards with every applicant. No one should be given special treatment or assessed with more difficult standards than anyone else. Consistency in the screening process for all workers is one of the most important aspects of compliant employment background screening.
Rewards and Benefits of Social Media Background Screening
The benefits of effective social media background screening include:
Networking. Employers can determine if the applicant shares contacts with the business and its current staff.
Skills and Experience. To some extent, social media background screening can be used to verify information given on the application or resume.
Placement. Looking at an applicant’s social media postings can help companies with placing them in the ideal role.
Corporate Culture. Getting to know an applicant via their online presence can help with determining if they will be a fit within the organization’s atmosphere and environment.
There are definite rewards associated with social media background screening, but there can also be compliance issues if it is conducted incorrectly. Employers should take steps to mitigate these risks. Using a professional background screening company can help with maximizing the benefits while minimizing risk.
Disclaimer Statement: All information presented is never intended as legal advice and is for information purposes only.