Social Media, the New Buzzword in Background Checks

Social media has created a new means of communication. We can correspond with current friend and get in touch with old acquaintances and new people with whom we may share a common interest. through social media we can comment on products and services and generally vent about our weekends, are lifestyle, our job, our manager, and the working environment.

Social media is an outlet. It is also a tripwire. Today, employers review job applicant's social media. They search for behavior characteristics, and how one relates to their work. Employers will review any comments about bosses, fellow staff, and the company itself. Negative input may nullify a job application. After all, who wants to hire someone who spent the last three years bad mouthing the managers and company he works for?

Not long ago I wrote an article entitled," An Entertaining Take on the Social Media Background Check." The article described Matt Honan's recent commentary on Gizmodo on how he flunked his social media background check.

Recently, in the Huffington Post, an article described how the New York Police Department is now monitoring the media networks for criminal activity. Apparently, an overcrowded house party that went bad, where one person was shoot and seven were injured, inspired such sentience. On the KBTX.Com website we are asked in an article, "Would you Pass a Social Media Background Check?"

Recently, we conducted a media and social media search on a woman who was the key candidate as the spokes person for a major entity. Apparently, the previous spokes person didn't fair so well when various compromising photos appeared mysteriously on the Internet. Was the social media search helpful? I believe so. Not only were there no extraordinary issues that would give the employer pause, the candidate was vetted as a wholesome family oriented person with grounded values and the desire to help others. In fact, her social media check served to support the role she was preparing to fill.

In conducting our social media search we not only searched the candidates but any affiliates that could shed light on her behavior characteristics. Does this mean damaging information couldn't emerge from elsewhere, after the candidate was given the job? Of course not. There is no protection against the spurned lover getting even by posting compromising photo. Social media monitoring does have its limitations.

As far as evaluating skill sets, it is easy to mistake an individual's eccentricity for his lack of work ethic. Many eccentrics have gone on to accomplish great things. And a fair number are busy voicing conspiracy theories on their Internet blogs. So as one would with any discernible information, critical thinking does apply. Being too strident with social media benchmarks might cause a recruiter to eliminate the truly talented from candidacy, because of something they said or the way they might behave in their downtime.

But then there are also red flags that when ignored can lead to disastrous consequences. Overlooking the apparent faux pas on the part of your employment candidate can result on the uncomfortable position where you just hired someone you should have left alone. Either they will be bad mouthing everyone from the recruiters, the managers, the company at every turn. To their thousand best friends. Or their weekend boasting about Bacchanalian events and heavy drinking, and not being able to find their cars might prove prophetic.

Like anything else in background checks, the Social Media Check should used with discretion. And critical thinking should be applied in order to make the wisest decisions about your hires. If there is anything I learned in employment screening, one size does not fit all.

Views: 263

Comment by Courtney Hunt on August 16, 2011 at 10:38am

Gordon - I've recently written two pieces on social screening and social recruiting that complement your post. Here are links to each:

 

Social Screening of Job Candidates: Focusing on the Facts

Social Media and Recruiting 101: Overview and Recommendations 

 

Please feel free to share your thoughts and/or a link back to this post on either/both.

 

Courtney

Comment by Gordon Basichis on August 16, 2011 at 5:55pm
Thanks Courtney. Will do.
Comment by Michael Gaul on September 23, 2011 at 2:48pm
Hey Gordon, Great article. You bring up many valuable points about the use of social media as a hiring tool. You are right that one size does not fit all. I invite you and your readers to read our recent blog post where we express our opinion on the matter. A Social Media Search by Any Other Name… Is Still a Background Check
Comment by Gordon Basichis on September 23, 2011 at 5:12pm
Michael.  Nice article.  Covers a lot of the pertinent bases.  I posed a comment up on your site.

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