With the vast amount of information people freely share on social media, it may be tempting to think that you can skip all of the steps of a cohesive background check for new employees and, instead, Facebook stalk would-be hires to suss them out for yourself. With so many organizations using social media as a recruiting tool these days, it is a seemingly logical step. But there are a few things that companies need to keep in mind when conducting a social media background check to keep themselves safe from certain legal liabilities. Furthermore, depending on the nature of your company and the type of hire you are making, it is unlikely that social media alone will glean all of the information that you need to make a sound hire.
How to Social Media for Hiring
There is a lot of conflicting information regarding how frequently companies use social media for hiring by conducting a social media background check. With the omnipresence of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and even personal websites, it is not unreasonable to think that the number of companies conducting social media background checks is near the upper projections, around 60 percent of companies. Social media is certainly a readily available resource for hiring managers, but it is not without its risks. While it is incredibly helpful to verify certain information like education backgrounds, there is much information on social media that you cannot use to make a hiring decision. This is one of the reasons that it is important to have a qualified HR professional conducting even this seemingly simple part of the background check—the professional is more likely to know what they can and cannot consider. Furthermore, that person will also be familiar with laws in your state that may further narrow what you can legally do when conducting a social media background check.
Social media background check
You can also help minimize risk by conducting a social media check further into the screening process. In this way, you can verify that you are not using inappropriate information from social media as the basis for your hiring decision. For example, if you find out someone’s race or age after checking out their social media and then decide not to pursue the individual as an employee any further, they may be able to make a case that they were discriminated against based on their race or age, in violation of equal opportunity employment standards. Alternatively, if you found out a person’s age or race in an in-person interview, then searched their social media and then decided that they are not a good fit due to some other factor, it is more obvious that discrimination is not the motivation for not hiring the candidate. Even if you are not conducting a social media background check, even finding out certain information over the course of, say, checking someone’s Facebook profile to get their email address, can get you more information that could potentially lead to accusations of discrimination and shaky legal ground.
The most common things found during social media background checks that lead to candidates not being hired include inappropriate photos or language, discriminatory posts or anything that may indicate a candidate was not forthcoming about their qualifications for the position …The only two days anyone is perfect is the day they are born and the day of a job interview, right?
Be sure to be consistent in which candidates’ social media profiles you check—you do not one to single out a single candidate if there are still more in the running. Furthermore, document which criteria you are finding on social media that you are considering in your hiring decision.
Lastly, you should never ask a potential employee for passwords to any of their personal social media accounts ever, but especially not while conducting a social media background check.
Using social media to find candidates
Luckily, the business of using social media for hiring is less fraught when used to post job opportunities rather than conducting a social media background check. The main thing to remember from a compliance standpoint when using social media for hiring is that when you post a job opportunity, you will want to include the applicable equal employment opportunity (EEO) and/or affirmative action tagline—the social media post does still constitute an advertisement of sorts.
Beyond that, think long and hard about the type of employee you want to hire and which social media platforms they are using. You will want to make sure that you post your job opportunity in a way that will appeal to your ideal candidate. For more ideas about recruiting strategies for your company, be sure to check out our blog post on the topic. And if you have any questions about using social media for hiring, whether it’s about social media background checks or using social media as a recruiting tool, give us a call. We can help as little or as much as you would like!