Social Media Background Check: 5 Things Not to Tweet

Tandem Select has been assessing the value that might be provided to both candidates and hiring managers with a social media background check. We think it is promising and have written several articles and blogs on this topic. A recent blog post addressed 9 Suggestions if You Are Considering Social Media Background Checks. This blog was oriented toward companies, but what the candidates? Some see the use of social media in background checks as a threat,  while others see it as an opportunity. Either way – there are some simple guidelines people should take when using social media so that they don’t compromise their professional image. 


To keep it simple, below are some (hopefully) common sense suggestions that people should consider before posting that Tweet, Facebook, or blog. While I am a strong advocate of privacy in social media – it is smart to understand that some public data is appropriate for background checking and will be used in the social media background search. So here are my suggestions of 5 Things Not to Tweet if you want to stay away from problems with pre employment screening that may include a social media check:


1)      The Hate Word: Feel free to have strong opinions, but don’t blatantly (and aggressively) rant and rave to the point where people will worry about your temper and your judgment. I suggest you stay away from “hating” too much in your post.

2)      Racist Comments: It shows intolerance and suggests you won’t work well with a diverse group of people. (And besides – it is just wrong)

3)      Negative Comments about Previous Employer (or employees): There are certainly things about your job or your co-workers that you might want to complain about with your friends, but remember to be civil. This is a public conversation.  

4)      Comments about Weapons and Violence: It is OK to like guns, feel free to be a hunter or enjoy sport shooting, but if you step over the line and talk too aggressively about using weapons (especially toward people) you are passing over the line of a safety risk.

5)      Bragging about “Taking Advantage” of Someone or Something: Some people are proud of their prowess in the competitive world we live in and like to talk about “besting the other guy”, but if you cheated a clerk at 7-11, or are proud of “lifting some notebooks” from the supply cabinet – you aren’t a good hire.


Social media information will be used in background checking. You should not have to worry about every line you write being scrutinized, but you should also exercise good judgment about what you write (and more importantly) how you say it. It is your choice to speak openly in this new public arena, just do so knowing that your words say a lot about who you are.



Views: 93

Comment by Valentino Martinez on May 18, 2011 at 3:17pm


Jerry—you’ve selected some hardcore watch-outs.  Do we really want the proud racist to hide that fact?  Do we want the true vindictive hater to come up rosie, or the person who likes to settle things with a weapon to tone that admittance down?  How about the post from someone bragging about their last drinking binge being far worse than those of the previous ten years--with funny pictures to match? 

My recommendation to all who utilize social media in any fashion IS TO BE YOUR TRUE SELF. And as recruiters that we not discourage or give advice to others on how they should disguise character flaws, really bad taste, or crimes of passion--if such things come up in conversation.

The "See, Hear, Speak NO EVIL" conundrum may/will bite us down the road.  We’re recruiters, not defense lawyers.  Don't we want to know the PLUS and MINUS factors of clients and candidates as best we can so that we can decide if it's a client or candidate we will engage for mutual benefit, or not?


Comment by Jerry D. Thurber on May 26, 2011 at 10:46am
Valentino, I agree with your point - I have written extensively from the employers point of view on this topic and thought it was time I wrote soemthing for the "applicants." My target here was really the well meaning people who could use a little common sense advise, and not a "how to guide" for the truly evil.


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