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22 Dec

5 Tips for Successful Social Media Background Checks

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It’s no secret that everyone is on social media today, and you can learn a lot about the people you work with through their social media profiles. You can also learn just as much about the people you are recruiting—this is where social media background checks come into play.

Of course, there is a fine line between what you can and can’t use during the recruiting process while conducting a social media background check, but this shouldn’t deter you. It may put you at ease to know that over 90% of companies conduct social media background checks. Furthermore, 57% of employers say they have found social or online content that caused them not to hire a candidate.

Social media background checks are meant to give you a clearer image of who you may be working with. Whether it be Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or any other social platform, a background check can help make a more confident decision about your candidate.

Here are some tips on how to conduct an impactful social media background check.

Create a Screening Policy

If you want to start conducting social media background checks, it’s important to have a policy outlined for your current employees and your candidates. As an employer, you need to create a screening policy that demonstrates legal and consistent practices, that is nondiscriminatory, and is a valid predictor of job performance.

Your policy should explicitly portray these guidelines.

A few items that should be included in your social media background check policy include who will conduct the screening, when during the recruiting process the screening will take place, which positions will be screened, and how the search will be conducted.

(Hint: if you’re implementing social media background checks, all candidates should be screened, not just some.)

Have Someone Other than the Hiring Manager Conduct the Screening

Odds are the hiring manager is not trained in what can and can’t be considered during a social media background check. If the hiring manager conducts the screening and they determine someone shouldn’t get the job based on something that was found, despite it not being considerable information, the company can face legal issues down the road.

You’ll also want to avoid unconscious bias, which may be difficult for a hiring manager who has already spoken to a candidate.

Lastly, it isn’t likely that a hiring manager is the one who explains to a candidate the entire recruiting process. However, federal law states that employers must make candidates aware if they plan on conducting a background check.

Look for Things that Go Against Company Policy

One great aspect of social media background checks is they can show you if a candidate isn’t a good match for your company culture and policies. Of course, they will only learn about company policies when you get to that point on your onboarding checklist, but you can still get an idea based on things you find that are generally deemed unacceptable.

Some items that may be considered unacceptable by your company and others include hate speech, bullying, use of illegal substances, and violent or explicit images.

If you do find items that are against company policy, be sure to document your findings. Should you run into a legal issue, you will have evidence to prove your case.

Don’t Be Too Critical

It’s incredibly important that you don’t read too deep into anything or come to any conclusions without knowing all the facts. Oftentimes, what you may see or read does not mean what you think it might. While you do need to find the things that are against your company’s code, you can’t be critically judgmental of every post a candidate has.

After all, the candidate is only human.

It is important to note that if you do continue to dig deeper, you’re only allowed to view and make judgments on profiles that are listed as public. You cannot sneak your way into a candidate’s private accounts without consent.

Ask for Help

A social media background check may be very new to your company. If you need help, consider looking into a screening service, or even a professional employer organization (PEO). While screening services are great, a PEO can help with the entire employment lifecycle from recruiting and onboarding, to employee evaluations and termination. PEOs like VensureHR provide the resources you need like a business owner’s guide to recruiting and an employee evaluation template, to help your company thrive.


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