To Check or Not to Check: Should You Look at Your Employees’ Social Media?

social media icons on mobileChecking candidates’ social media profiles has become common practice among employers in recent years. Sometimes, doing so reveals valuable information; sometimes, it opens a Pandora’s Box of issues that hiring managers would rather not have faced.

Here, we discuss the pros and cons of checking candidates’ or employees’ social media profiles, along with a few best practices for managers seeking to navigate these occasionally dangerous waters.

Why Should You Check Social Media?

Some of the biggest pros and cons of checking social media for candidates and employees include:

Pro: It can tell you more about a candidate’s abilities.

Unlike a resume, which provides only a handful of carefully curated details, social media offers are more dynamic view of a candidate’s abilities, projects and passions.

Pro: It can tell you more about who the candidate is.

People tend to be more honest on social media than in job interviews, especially about personal prejudices and other inappropriate behaviors.

Con: It might reveal protected information.

Information about a candidate’s membership in a protected class, like national origin, religion or disability, might put an employer in an awkward position if they later choose not to hire the candidate – which is one of the biggest reasons cited by hiring managers who don’t check social media.

Con: You may not be reading information from the candidate.

Not only is hacking always an issue, but duplicate and impostor accounts exist as well. Hiring managers who look candidates up on social media face the risk that the person they’re looking at isn’t the same person who attended the interview.

Best Practices for Social Media Review

With the pros so valuable and the cons so potentially dangerous, how can hiring managers best use online reviews in hiring? Here are a few current best practices:

Get consent.

To comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), make sure you get consent from candidates before reviewing their social media profiles. Specify on the consent form that the information may be used for decisions related to employment.

Create a company-wide social media policy, and enforce it consistently.

Social media policies offer guidance for employees, which can cut down on potentially embarrassing or legally risky events. Consistent application of these policies in both hiring and employee management ensures that everyone knows the rules, and may even help circumvent certain discrimination claims. Speak to a licensed attorney for help with specific questions related to a legally compliant social media policy.

Outsource the task.

Choosing a third-party screener that complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) can help you avoid discrimination or breach of privacy claims. Your screener will report any relevant information, while removing information about the candidate’s membership in any protected class. Your recruiting partner can also handle the vetting of candidates when it is time to hire. They will be able to confirm pertinent details and provide you information to help you make the right hire.

At TERRA Staffing Group, our recruiters can help you find the best candidates for the job. Our award-winning recruiting team has years of experience to help you find, source and vet the best talent for your open positions. Contact us today to learn more about our recruiting services in Portland, Phoenix and Seattle.

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