Things to Remember When Conducting Social Media Background Checks

When’s the last time you posted something you regretted on social media? It happens! Whether you’re oversharing or ruffling feathers, it can be tempting to think that social media is the ultimate safe space to soap box, but now and increasingly into the future, employers like you will be leveraging social media searches in their background checks of prospective employees. As mediums for self-expression, Twitter and Facebook are not as “safe” for members of the workforce as we might like to think.

Members of the workforce aged 18 to 34—Millennials—often consider probes into their social media activity an invasion of privacy, but according to research conducted by CareerBuilder, the practice of employers using social media background checks in their hiring decisions increased by 500 percent in the last decade. Obviously, this is directly connected to the rise of social media sites, but it’s important to consider that nearly half of employers and hiring managers, according to the same research, decided not to hire the job candidate based on information uncovered in a social media background check.

Conversely, nearly one third of employers who used social media to screen candidates discovered information that lead them to hire the candidate.

Reasons for NOT Hiring

These reasons included the posting of:

  • provocative or inappropriate images and videos
  • information about candidate’s drinking or drug use
  • discriminatory comments related to race, religion, and gender

Reasons for Hiring

Social media factors that contributed to an employer’s decision to hire a candidate were:

  • profile and posting information supported applicant’s qualification claims
  • candidate conveyed professionalism even on social media
  • candidate’s personality seemed a good fit with company culture
  • candidate conveyed well-rounded image and varied interests
  • candidate demonstrated well-honed communication skills

Areas of Caution

Employers should still exercise caution when incorporating social media background checks in their employee screening processes, as you never want to be accused of discrimination based race, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.

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