Upwards of 81 percent of the United States population owns and operates at least one social media account. Nearly three of every ten Americans report logging onto social media profiles multiple times per day.
Even without considering these statistics, the widespread popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, and other social platforms is likely already apparent to you.
While most social media users are individuals, many businesses also maintain social presences. Such accounts are most frequently used to market products, services, and other offerings. However, another utilization is rapidly becoming more popular here in the United States, and across planet Earth - social media screening.
The Benefits Of Social Media Screening For Employers
Traditional background checks have been relied upon by businesses for decades, as well as checking up with applicants' previous employers and other references. However, those references could be applicants' friends or family members, simply acting as other people to help their loved ones land positions in the workplace.
Further, background checks are expensive, and rarely offer insights into the personalities or attitudes of applicants.
Social media screening, on the other hand, is a go-to in modern applicant screening, as doing so is free, provides meaningful insights into applicants' personal and business lives, and helps employers discover who applicants associate with. It's cheap, readily available, and often provides more information than contacting references and soliciting background checks.
While the benefits of social media screening are well-established, not every employer knows the most effective, efficient, lawful, and appropriate means of conducting such background checks.
Hiring Discrimination Risks Are Real
The United States government sets forth several protected characteristics that employers aren't allowed to base hiring decisions off of, including gender, race, and sexual orientation.
On traditional job applications, employers aren't provided with any information regarding these protected characteristics. When employers look to social media, however, it's possible to see their race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, and other characteristics that hiring decisions legally can't be made off of.
As such, it's important for your business to segregate executive decisions regarding who gets hired from browsing through applicants' pages on social media. You can either do this by delegating the latter responsibilities to employees other than yourself, or hire an outside organization like Fama, a social media screening servicer, to browse through applicants' pages for you.
Don't Look At Applicants' Social Profiles Until As Late As Possible
After interviews have been conducted, it's time to look at applicants' social media profiles. Never look to these accounts before extending interviews, as applicants that don't get hired could argue that interviews weren't extended because of protected characteristics on their pages, like race or religion.
As such, it's considered most safe to look at social media pages as late as possible in the hiring process. Although social platforms can provide valuable insights into applicants' behaviors and attitudes, virtually every employer would rather be safe than sorry, as the saying goes.
If you find negative marks on applicants' pages, make sure to take note of them. It's always best to screenshot them, as applicants could make their pages private, remove posts, or edit them.
Make sure that whoever is responsible for such screening duties knows to thoroughly document everything about information they uncover on applicants' pages.