Social media background checks have been part of pre-employment screening for several years but are often seen as a way to scope out some of the more unsavoury elements of a candidate’s background and personality, through platforms on which users share every tiny detail of their lives. But what if social media checks could be used to make a candidate’s application stronger rather than rule them out?
Social media checking is now a standard part of pre-employment screening. According to recent research by YouGov, up to 80% of employers are likely to check a candidateï¿½s social media accounts as part of their recruitment and onboarding procedure.
As the use of social media vetting continues to sweep through the pre-employment screening industry, it is beginning to feel like the entire world is snooping through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even LinkedIn looking for the slightest hint of wrongdoing to help narrow down their short list of candidates.
The BBC has today reported that the Trump Administration wants to start collecting social media history on all Visa applicants entering the US.
In recent months, there has been a flood of comments on the use of social media as a part of vetting prior to employment, with many expressing concerns about privacy, ethics, and the potential for discrimination against various social groups. It should be made clear that the online stalking of either current employees or potential candidates prior to even being interviewed is not an appropriate use of this valuable tool, and is not only irresponsible but in some cases, could be illegal - Indeed, provisions are already being recommended for inclusion in the forthcoming data protection overhaul, the GDPR, to counter this practice.
There are more benefits to the responsible use of social media vetting than many individuals may realise or like to admit – responsible in this case being defined as being controlled, impartial, performed at an appropriate time within the on-boarding process (for example, once a position has been offered and accepted, subject to further checks) and with a sensible approach to the date of publication of any content, and the candidates age at the time the content was published – it would be unfair to penalise any individual for content posted years before their current employment application, or when they were only sixteen years old.
A robust, compliant and responsibly managed social media vetting program can protect both the employer from bad hires that prove costly from a time investment and financial perspective, and current employees from being exposed to antisocial or irresponsible bad hires that diminish morale and personal security. A good social media vetting system will also contain an impartial human element that can differentiate between the use of sarcasm, humour and potentially adverse content, and will also be able to take the context of the information into account, allowing an informed yet real world approach to be adopted.
Your Social Media CV
In a world where more and more information is freely shared on the internet by individuals, it is no longer realistic to think that content posted online will remain private. It is wise to consider your online footprint as an extension of your CV, only far more useful as a means of presenting an accurate representation of yourself to others - including potential employers. Whereas a CV is often a dry, fact based document that is undeniably essential to your career, your online presence is the perfect way to express who you are and what your ideals may be, selling your personality to prospective employers in a way that no CV can.
Remember, in an already competitive job market, any chance that you have to highlight your strengths should be taken, and a good social media profile should go hand in hand with your CV to present the best view of you that is possible.
Finally, if you feel that the importance of your social media presence is being overstated, consider that a recent survey found that more than 40% of employers had hired candidates because of the content found on their social media.