February 19th, 2021 | Sterling
Building Your Dream Team Starts by Knowing Your Candidates
Q&A with Ben Mones, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Fama.io, the world’s largest social media screening company and leader in the application of artificial intelligence technology in background screening services.
Social media provides job seekers with the opportunity to find their dream jobs and employers the opportunity to recruit their dream teams. Employers are also using social media to vet job candidates. They want to look beyond qualifications and what’s on their resume to see other elements such as the candidate’s character, personality, passion for the industry, soft skills, and whether they will reflect the company’s brand and culture standards.
According to a new survey, 90% of employers believe that social media is important to assess job candidates. A person’s social media posts, likes, shares, and comments can say a lot about them. In addition, some employers recognize that social media screening is not only a great resource to “get to know” a potential new employee, but also adds an additional layer of protection against risk to the company and its employees, just like traditional screening.
As the top priority continues to be workplace safety, employers are leveraging the latest screening tools and methodologies in the market to achieve that. But there’s more than safety. Social media screening can yield many rewards when performed correctly, and it gives employers an understanding of who will be working at their organization.
We invited Ben Mones, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Fama to discuss social media employment screening, including current events, hot topics, and the solution that can give employers the level of confidence they need in their hiring decisions.
Q. How has the pandemic impacted how employers perceive or use social media screening?
A. The shift to a remote-first work environment has led to an increase in the number of companies leveraging social media screening. We saw same-client report volumes increase by more than 150% in 2020 compared to 2019. Employers are increasingly turning to social media screening as a way to supplement available traditional screening methods. For example, many employers use a “social interview” or “culture interview” to ensure that a new hire will represent their brand and culture values day-in and day-out. Those approaches may not be possible during a pandemic – in the same way that employers cannot rely on eye contact or a candidate’s general in-person behavior during a job interview to gauge character. Combined with the fact that the pandemic has us spending more time on social media, employers are turning more and more to this information-rich data source to obtain valuable candidate insights, and they’re leveraging social screening service providers to do this in a proper, compliant manner, and at scale.
Q. Given recent events, are you seeing an increased interest in social media screening by employers trying to identify behaviors that can be detrimental to a company’s brand and workplace safety?
A. Employers are in the awkward position of attempting to identify new types of people risk without a tried and true method for such risk identification. Talent and security leaders are receiving pressure from their executive teams, employee population, and by extension, customers, to identify these sorts of risks in the workplace. As a result, social screening is a sensical first step, which has led to us seeing an increased interest from existing clients to augment their program to include these types of risk analyses, as well as a larger volume of inbound requests asking, “Can you help?”
Q. What are some concerns for organizations that adopt a social media screening program?
A. Over the past six years, social media screening has become more normalized in corporate America. In 2015 we were getting a lot of questions around, “Why social screening?”, whereas these days the bigger question is, “How do I stand up a program?” Today, the biggest concern that we see from prospects and clients – and one that often goes unsaid – relates to adjudicating results when a “hit” comes up. While security and talent practitioners have a long history of adjudicating criminal “hits” or verification “hits,” there isn’t a standard operating procedure for deciding where to draw the line on social media “hits.” For example, many business leaders need to be trained on mitigating factors: recency of a post, original vs liked vs shared, or the frequency of a type of flag that might be discovered. Setting up this framework, training leaders and decision makers, and balancing this against compliance guidelines are the biggest challenges that we help organizations overcome today.
Q. Are there certain industries that are presently adopting social media screening solutions more than others? If so, why?
A. We have seen a dramatic increase in the healthcare, education, and hospitality industries over the past year. There is a range of factors that contribute to this vertical-specific growth, and all roads lead back to the customer. Healthcare systems, universities, and hospitality all have large customer constituencies that are highly self-referencing. For example, guests that tend to frequent a certain hotel brand can quickly form an online movement if one of their own experiences mistreatment or bias. Hospitality executives recognize that each of their employees’ interactions with a customer is an opportunity to extend or detract from the corporate brand. It naturally follows then that these same companies are exploring new screening programs to help ensure their people are aligned with the values of their brand.
Q. Given the current debates about social media platforms (spread of mis/disinformation, censorship versus safety, extremism, cancel culture), can you make any predictions about the future of social media screening as part of the recruiting/hiring process?
A. The world of social media screening is changing rapidly. When commenting on the riots at the Capitol last month, @jack on Twitter said it best: “Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real.” The connection between what is happening online and what is happening offline is becoming more material to the average citizen. The last president communicated with his constituents through his Twitter account. Who we are online and who we are offline is increasingly becoming blurred. I predict that in 2021 we will see a “sharing of worlds” between our digital and analog spaces and that social screening will be increasingly attached to corporate background screening packages.
As Ben stated above, all it takes is one social media post to damage a company’s brand reputation and put at risk its employees and customers. One of the best ways to protect your people and your brand is to conduct a social media screening on prospective employees prior to hiring them.
Social media background screening can reveal data that will help your organization make more informed hiring decisions. That way you can strive to build a culture where everyone you hire shares your company values.
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