Sunday, August 16, 2015

Social Media Check ~ The Forgotten Screening Tool Pt 4

Do You use Social Media in Your Background Checks?

When it comes to employment background checks, there are certain things that come quickly to mind. Criminal court record checks, degree verifications, and even confirming past employments are usually part of the package.

However, there are other screening tools that can be just as important. We call these the “Forgotten Screening Tools”.

Do You Know Why, When, and How You can check your candidates Social Media sites before hiring them for your Small Business?

In part 4 of our series on “Forgotten” Screening Tools, we take a look at these questions and help you decide whether doing a Social Media Check on your applicants is good for you and your  Business!

Social Media searches are not so much a “forgotten” tool, as they are misunderstood.  

It may seem like the information you would find should have no bearing on your employment decisions. But that is not a wise way to think.

There are sound reasons why checking your applicant’s social media will help in your hiring decisions.

Why, When, and How to Use a Social Media Check in Your Small Business Hiring Decisions!  “Tweet This”
  • Why Would You Do a Social Media Check?
There are definite reasons why doing a Social Media Check on your applicants makes sense.

One reason is to find any relevant information and posts that contain professional information that could be used as a cross-check against their resume. This can be the first step in verifying resume accuracy.

Another reason would be to look for things that could work both for and against your candidate. Posts that give you a better insight into them and their character would be your focus.

Pros and Cons to Look for in your Social Media Check:
#SmallBiz #Hiring #SocialMediaCheck
Essentially, a Social Media Check, along with other screening tools, helps you discover things that may either give you pause or alarm you or even leave you with a better opinion of your potential candidate.
  • When Would You Do a Social Media Check?
A recent survey of HR professionals conducted by EmployeeScreen IQ asked this question:

Does your organization conduct online media searches as a means of screening candidates in the hiring process?

63% of those surveyed said they Do Not use social media searches as part of their employment screening. Of those that do, only 7% outsource them, while the others do them in-house.

While this may not seem like a significant amount of employers using Social Media Checks, there are still those that use them as part of their hiring process. And it is important to recognize that there are guidelines that should be followed.

Your best course of action is to wait until after the initial interview to conduct a Social Media Check. Make sure you obtain a signed release explaining that a background check, including a social media search, is the next step.  

You should treat the social media check the same way you do other aspects of your employment screening. Your candidate must be given a copy of their rights (their right to a copy of their report and the ability to mitigate or dispute the information found), just like when you run a court record check.

This includes documenting what social media sites were searched, when they were searched, what information was found, and what decision was made concerning employment. The report should be kept in the candidate’s file. 

You can find out more in Part 1 of our series “Social Media, Background Checks, and Company Policy: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!”.
  • How Can You Do a Social Media Check?
There are definitely best practices when it comes to conducting a Social Media Check.

The number one rule is to Never ask for Passwords!!! It is best to only search for “Public” content that does not require passwords. You should also not attempt to go in the “back door” by requiring your candidate to “friend” your company, log into their account in front of you, or use another employee to get your applicant’s information.

In fact, many states have laws that govern how you can and cannot use social media in determining employment. 

Find out more about the laws surrounding social media checks here.

When checking the social media profile of an applicant, LinkedIn is the site most frequently used. Here you can find more legitimately professional information on your applicant.

In addition, general searches using Google, Bing, and other search engines are popular. Your search also may include sites like Facebook and Twitter.

If you do use a social media search in any way during your hiring process, the information found is governed under the same rules as any other information in a background check. And it is important to remember that What is Seen, Cannot be Unseen!  

That is why we recommend that you do not do this search yourself or have anyone else in your company do them. Instead, it is best to have an independent background check company do the research.

A professional screening company knows best what information is permitted under FCRA/EEOC guidelines. This protects you from discovering information that is protected ~ anything pertaining to race, age, sex, religious affiliation, sexual orientation. 

A good background check company will ensure that any social media report you see does not include this protected information.   

This can help protect you from charges of discrimination if you decide not to hire your applicant.

In addition, a knowledgable background check company will understand any applicable state laws governing the use of social media checks in employment decisions. 

As an employer, having a barrier between you and your possible personal biases and the sensitive information that may be found during a Social Media Check is good business.

This is why we have added a Social Media Check to our Services. It can help employers legally find the information they need and job seekers be more prepared for the possibility that their potential new employer may look!

If you do decide to do the social media check internally, make sure to have a dedicated researcher who understands what constitutes protected information. They should be required to eliminate from their report anything that could get you or your company in hot water.

If you use social media checks as part of your hiring process, or if you even think you might, it is important to develop a sound social media policy.

Your policy needs to state that, as with all other aspects of your background check, you will obtain a signed release from your applicants. Be sure to include what will be checked and how that information will be used.

Using a Social Media Check can help you develop a better overall picture of your applicants. You can learn things, both good and bad, that will help you make a better hiring decision. And that is what an Employment Screening is all about!

Be sure to check out the other 3 articles in this series to find out more about the “Forgotten” screening tools:

Please Pay it Forward and Share this article on your favorite social media sites! And leave a comment, we would love to hear from you! Thanks!

Authored by  

API can help you navigate the world of hiring in your  Business. Visit our Website to learn more About Us and our company, Access Profiles. You can also discover the many Background Investigation, Security Consulting, and Business Mentoring services API offers.

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