With the rise of social media, employers have never had more access to information about their applicants’ personal lives. From their political beliefs to their partying habits—more information is more easily discovered than ever before.
So, should you be using social media background checks as a regular part of your background screening process? Probably not.
It is extremely difficult to conduct social media background checks in a way that doesn’t potentially violate ethical and legal boundaries. You may learn information that you cannot “unsee”, which could end up swaying your decision. In fact, we consider heavily using social media in your hiring decision making to be one of the Top 5 Mistakes employers make on background checks.
Here are three important reasons why you should avoid doing social media background checks:
Even a Quick Peek Can Be Harmful
Maybe you don’t plan to conduct a thorough review of an applicant’s social media profile. You’re just going to take a quick look, maybe check the most recent posts. What can it hurt?
It turns out, quite a lot. You can very easily expose yourself to discriminatory practices. An applicant can also file suit claiming that any of the information you found on their social media profiles was allegedly the reason you didn’t hire them, or that you later fired them.
You Can’t Be Certain It’s Them
This is one that might surprise you. After all, you know what your applicant looks like, and that’s definitely them in the profile picture. Right?
Short of asking for an applicant’s social media login information (which is now illegal in many states), there is no way to independently confirm that the profile is really theirs. An applicant’s identity might have been stolen, their information might have been used to catfish someone, or a bully might have set up a fake profile.
You’re Not Getting a Complete Picture
Most social media users are savvy enough to know that their employers, potential dates, and moms are going to be reading their profiles. Privacy settings are more advanced than ever, giving applicants more control over who sees what. When you check out an applicant’s profiles, you may only be seeing what they want you to see.
A Career Builder survey found that nearly half of employees only share posts with friends and family. If the purpose of conducting a social media background check is to find out who your applicant “really” is, then odds are you are not going to find out.
Diving into the social media profiles of an applicant can be tempting, but as a general rule, should be avoided. Instead, work with a trusted background screening company to complete a safe, ethical, and legal background screen for your applicant. Contact ClearStar today to get started!