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Social Media Background Checks — Same As Pre-Employment Screening?

  May 13, 2011

Let's face it; most people love to get “scoop” on others through social media sites: what they're like, what's going on in their lives, who they hang out with, their likes/dislikes and relationship status. Oh and don't forgot, people just love to look at photos!

But when it comes using social media as part of the hiring process, check out this scenario:

  • A hiring manager goes on Facebook to find out more about someone their company is recruiting and shows the findings to a co-worker:  “Wow, check out this woman I interviewed last week. Look what she's wearing in that photo! How bad is that? Check out her hair! Would she dress like that on the job? Look like she's a big partier. Gee I hope she wouldn't act like that at work. Ugh. Look at some of her friends! Are you kidding me? Whoa, I'm not sure about her now. I may need to find someone else who would be better.”

Seriously folks, does any of that information reveal if the woman is qualified for the job? No. It only gives a perception of her, and paints a picture of what the hiring manager thinks she's like.

If you're in HR and your business runs background checks, chances are you've read or heard stories about using social media background checks in the hiring process. It's such a hot topic right now. The discussions and controversies keep swirling through the news media universe, oh and guess what, social media too. And while some employers seem to be spending time searching social media sites for “scoop” on their job candidates, is it legal? Sure, social media is here to stay, and it can be interesting searching information and finding out about people you're thinking of hiring. But you can't use “subjective” or “perception-based” information when making employment decisions, due to employment screening laws.

If you're an HR or Hiring Manager, make sure you read this article. You may want to think twice before using social media sites for pre-employmentscreening and to get information on your job candidates.

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