Whether it’s inter-office communications or nationwide advertising, there is no denying that things like Facebook and Twitter have permanently altered the business landscape. With this advancement, the question has arisen for many companies whether or not they should utilize social media background checks during the hiring process. And while many have pushed for their usage, you should be aware that these checks can sometimes carry unforeseen legal consequences. Let’s break things down:
Those who promote social media background checks point out the fact that a simple glance at a Facebook feed can help a business avoid a potentially bad hire. It does not take too many inappropriate pictures or comments to judge whether or not a potential employee will be a good fit for a company. However, this doesn’t mean that social media is only going to hurt job prospects. Employers can also be impressed when they find evidence of potential candidates engaged in things like community service or having fun with the family. With these different techniques in mind, social media’s ability to provide a quick and easy way to find out more about new employees has made it a popular background check option.
Those against social media checks will point out the fact that businesses will need to jump through quite a few hoops in order to do them right. There are a number of protected characteristics (e.g. race, age, gender) that businesses cannot consider when doing these checks, but these bounds are often accidentally overstepped when viewing social media profiles. This and other legal concerns associated with discrimination cause many companies to second-guess themselves and avoid social media background checks.
With these cons, many choose to skip the legal issues and avoid these checks altogether. But for others like Jonathon Segal, an attorney and partner at Duane Morris LLP, the potential risks are outweighed by the benefits. He feels that “lawyers think [businesses] are taking a risk [by looking at social media], but they could be taking a bigger risk [by not looking], because then they hire the person that is dangerous or unproductive.” So, for those who are looking to take advantage of the pros and avoid the cons of social media background checks, we’ve put together a few pointers for you:
Work with HR
Don’t leave home without these guys. HR professionals are trained so that they can oversee the hiring process without violating any laws. Make sure they are the only ones who are accessing any social media pages for job candidates.
Create a Consistent System
Working to make a concrete and consistent background check system will help you avoid any discrimination or accidental rule breaking. It would be a good idea to put this together before conducting any checks.
Only Use Public Information
You should NEVER ask for account passwords. When doing a check, make sure to only look at information that is publicly available, otherwise you are running the risk of committing a criminal offense.
Background Check Screening Services
Putting together and actually running background checks can be a bit confusing. Instead of running a potentially dangerous risk, work alongside the professionals at Blueline Services to help you with every step of the hiring process. We can coordinate with your team to make sure that you have an all-encompassing background check that is 100% legal. Visit our website for any questions or to find out more about our full range of services!