Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Background Checks via Social Media

I was reading my HR magazine last night and there was an article about employers NOT using social media for screening candidates.  The article, written by Bill Leonard, states the following percentages from their survey in April 2011.

"Twenty-six percent of 417 respondents said their organizations use search engines to screen job applicants, while only 18 percent of 441 poll participants said their companies use social networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) for the same purpose."

As expected, much of this non-use is driven by potential "legal risks and ramifications."

So, where does this leave you as the employer?  As always, be consistent in your screening and background practices, and if you elect to use on-line information in your recruiting practice, do so for all candidates and document your process.

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Ciphr said...

Now everyone must take responsibility for their online profiles. There are employers who seriously does this background checks via social media. Glad I have my work now. Great post!

HR software said...

I do this often. Works like a charm.

praveen said...

back ground checks via social media is a fine option only if you are hiring certain industry professionals. I dont think non-it guys are so much involved in social networks where checking their backgrounds seems nil and void.

Jason Blais said...

This is a very, very sensitive area, and one that must be reviewed with great caution and thoughtfullness. Aside from the obvious questions of adverse hiring decisions based on protected classes which are evident and obvious on a candidates social networking profile, there are much more elementary questions- is it worth your time as an employer, and it is relevant.

The determination that using social media for background screening gives an employer a better insight into the candidates potential to be an engaged and highly performing employee may be quite flawed. This thinking assumes that all of your current engaged top performers never do anything questionable or unethical or immoral in their personal lives (either on a social network or not).

For every employee in an organization, there is a line between work life and private life, and it's one that we in HR should be very cautious to peer over. Rather than making assumptions based on conversations and actions that candidates make in their private lives (yes, I absolutely understand that strictly speaking social networks aren't private, but the fact is that most people perceive them to be, and perception is reality), it's much more relevant to limit employment background screening narrowly to work related safety and performance items.

If you are unsure about culture, fit, behavior, engagement, it's far more effective and reliable to develop a competency and performance model and use pre-hire assessments for this type of screening.

Kari Quaas said...

Thanks for the comments, all. It's definitely a delicate issue for both sides of the equation. It's important as a job seeker to project a professional image and the employers need to be professional in how they view and use this information.