Before social media, a background check meant that a prospective employer would look into criminal history, past employment history, education, require a drug test and a few other key components, depending on the nature of the job being hired for.  There was never a concern that something you did five years ago and put up on a social media website might come back to haunt you as you pursued a job.  What people need to remember is that social media is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a negative thing!

Several companies have begun utilizing social media in their “detective” work on an applicant.  Employers use this medium as a way to find out information about a candidate, and to see if they have any negative information on their social media sites that might provide a reason for not considering them. Some have even gone to the extent of asking for usernames and passwords.  There have been so many stories written about companies that have been hit with lawsuits due to the use of this social media information that it does call into question for some if it is worth it.

There are companies (like PeopleG2) that provide social media searches as a part of a background check, and the purpose is not just to draw out negative information.  This is what does make this type of search worth it.  There are a lot of positives that happen on social media, and employers are looking for those things just as much as the negative.

Social media has become a quandary for HR personnel.  We all know it exists, and we all know it can both help and hurt an applicant.  Do a person’s social media preferences influence their ability to do a job?  Some might say it’s a direct reflection, while others might simply see that the two don’t need to intermingle.  There are a lot of ways to find out about a person and their character.  Social media is one of those ways, but like anything, results found on a social media search need to be handled in a fair manner when considering a candidate for a position.

For human resource professionals, or anyone that handles interviewing, reviewing candidate profiles and hiring, social media searches can be useful part of a background check and the decision-making process.  With the EEOC continuing to bring lawsuits against companies for the use of criminal records and hiring discrimination, it is very important for companies to use a company that provides fully FCRA compliant social media screenings if this is something they want to use in their consideration.  Social media is here to stay, is a part of millions of people’s lives, and is a useful employment screening option.  It’s nothing to be afraid of, but it needs to be disseminated in a way that allows for fairness in the hiring process.

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