Social Media and Background Checks

More and more employers are using social media as a valuable tool for sourcing and recruiting prospective candidates. Social networking allows organisations to build their employment brand and awareness to target top talent in a large range of skill sets, and improve the effectiveness of their recruiting efforts.

So it seems inevitable that the percentage of employers checking online information will grow as using online social media becomes further entrenched in the fabric of social networking and job searching. But what role does it play when it comes to background checking?

Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are valuable resources for identifying qualified candidates and communicating with and recruiting applicants to fill positions. However, the risk employers need to understand, when using social media as part of their recruiting process, occurs when the process moves from sourcing to screening candidates.

Checking out a candidate’s online presence? Proceed with caution

There are all sorts of good reasons you might want to research an applicant online by checking out their Facebook page, blog, Twitter messages, etc. Your intent might be innocent and entirely professional. You could be looking to confirm that the information in their CV is the same as they’ve posted online and highlighting any discrepancies would raise red flags for you that you’d want to investigate further.

The difficulty occurs when information provided on social media sites is used to screen or explicitly eliminate a candidate from consideration. This elimination, when based on data found through social media content, opens the employer to the potential risks of liability, discrimination claims, and non-compliance with regulations.

There are a variety of “protected characteristics,” such as age, race, religion, medical history and nationality that employers can’t consider when deciding whether to hire someone. Employers that do base hiring decisions on that type of information can be sued and it’s these characteristics that are often publicly available on an individual’s social media profiles.

In summary, if you want to improve your hiring decisions and make sure your new recruits are who they say they are never try to screen them yourselves but work with a specialist partner that will ensure you are legally compliant.