Social Media Role In Background Checks

With the rapid evolution of social media and potential employees' interaction with their networks via sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, most employers today are leveraging heavily on social media as part of their overall recruitment process —a strategy that makes a great deal of sense, given that more than 70% of online adults are using social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Instagram.

Although the integration of social media into your recruitment programs can produce some important benefits, there are some potential pitfalls of which employers should be aware before using social media especially as a tool for background screening.

Listed below are some of the suggested best practices your company should take into account if it already uses, or is considering using, social media as part of its employee background screening process:

Understand the risks

While social media has quickly gained popularity as an established part of the overall recruitment effort, employers should be well-advised about its role in the employment screening process.

Employers’ hesitation in using social media as part of the background screening process may be due to a number of factors, including a deficit of established legal guidance, concerns over applicants' privacy, and uncertainty regarding best practices around its usage. Legal consultation must be sought for assessment and risk mitigation. Also put into consideration the on-site privacy and legal policies of these networking sites.

Develop a Policy

A social media policy written and well communicated to employees is a basic foundation every organization should build upon. A policy in put in place to protect an organization from legal risks by outlining background screening practices and provides guidelines to HR personnel or vendors in charge of conducting background checks. Most employers overlook this inherent risks and potential pitfalls.

Social Media as a Resume

Most candidates primarily have a control over what is posted on their social media accounts. Hence, just like their resumes, misrepresentations and inflations are likely occurrences. Employers therefore have a duty to verify social media sources independently to avoid being liable for negligent hiring. In conclusion, social media is useful tool for recruitment noting all the suggested best practice but its use in background checks is largely limited due to its dependence on applicants and unverifiable sources.