September 27th, 2019 | Alla Schay, General Manager, Sterling - Industrials, Government & Education

How You Can Add “Likes” to Your Social Media Screening Program

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Social media screening is the process of capturing samples of your candidates’ online social media activity to provide a view of their background. In this article, we will discuss why several organizations are outsourcing this service, and how it can be an important part of your background check program.

The importance of social media screening is directly proportional to the ever-growing number of new-hire candidates and employees sharing personal and professional details across multiple social media channels. The possibility of discovering information that is potentially adverse or otherwise cautionary could help highlight the areas of concern relevant to your organization. In essence, social media screenings can uncover negative behaviors that a candidate may exhibit online by looking at publicly available content.

On the other hand, some recruiters say that their best candidates are sourced via social media, while others use social media to vet candidates in the pre-interview phase. Hence, they are already using these platforms during recruiting phase. In such scenarios, organizations may question why they shouldn’t just conduct social media searches themselves. There are several pitfalls to this approach:

  • Escalating costs
    The average wage of human resource personnel can be anywhere from $17 to $60 per hour. With new social media platforms emerging at an alarmingly fast rate, playing detective can often take hours. Akin to going down a rabbit hole, this can get expensive very quickly.
  • Lack of skills
    Specific skill is required to perform a thorough social media search. Your staff is not likely to have experience in this area and training them to do so will not only require investing extra time but also divesting effort in an area that is outside their subject matter expertise.
  • Legal risks
    A home-grown or piecemeal approach may have legal implications, thus exposing your organization to unnecessary risk. Technology used by third party can improve coverage by identifying relevant sources and applying your criteria consistently. Hiring a background screening provider that is accredited by the PBSA is a good place to start.
  • Violation of anti-discrimination law and policies
    If your staff does its own social media searches, it cannot “un-see” information found on the web. Inadvertently, they may be influenced by information that should not be the basis for an employment decision in the first place. By viewing protected class information or sensitive information such as age, disability, gender, marital status, race, religion and sexual orientation, hiring managers may be violating established EEO laws and policy, and may be putting your organization at additional risk.


Advantages of Social Media Screening

Social media screening can yield many rewards when performed correctly. For example, it may help identify behavior that may impact your organization’s brand value, morale and employee safety. You may have positions where the public’s safety can be quickly and irreparably harmed by an individual with bad intentions. Social media activity can be a precursor to threats like workplace violence, sabotage or other troubling activities.

As organizations strive to be socially inclusive, it is still important to identify whether candidates exhibit racist, sexist or other intolerant or disruptive language and behaviors that may impact your consideration and hiring decision.

Social media screening can also make a strong statement to your employees and applicants about shared values. It can demonstrate that your organization is a safer place to because you screen for anti-social, violent, and illegal behaviors.

More and more organizations are outsourcing their social media searches to help mitigate potential compliance issues, and many receive results quickly, often in as little as 24 hours. If it is not already on your radar, social media screening is a valuable tool to add to your organization’s background check program.

Do you have questions? We would love to hear from you. In the meantime, here’s where you can learn how Sterling’s fast, thorough, customizable, convenient and global social media search service can help your organization screen more effectively.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.