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Does Social Media Show Up on Background Checks?

When you begin to look at hiring new employees, there’s a lot to consider. From what skills they need to have to how much experience you require, the specifics matter. But another crucial component of the hiring process is checking the background of your prospective employees.

Yet, many employers wonder: does social media show up on background checks? Here we’ll look at what constitutes a background check, why social media matters, and how to get the information you need to hire the best possible employees.


What Does a Background Check Cover?

Most employers run background checks on new hires, whether before or after an interview. In general, most companies don’t want to hire people with specific criminal offenses or histories. Working with children or at-risk populations requires a particular background clearance, too. In some fields, mainly financial and regulatory industries, credit history is also a factor in hiring decisions.

The priority is typically to ensure that an employee is not a physical or financial risk to an organization. The Federal Trade Commission has rules and guidelines for background checks. To that end, a background check traditionally covers:

  • Employment history
  • Education
  • Criminal record
  • Financial history
  • Medical history (only after a job offer occurs)
  • Public records

While a background check covers much of a person’s data, it isn’t the whole picture. Just because someone passes a background check doesn’t necessarily mean they have the qualifications or the personality for a role. Fortunately, social media checks can provide more insight on potential new hires.


Why Does Social Media Matter in the Hiring Process?

Many people have social media accounts, and it’s not just teenagers sharing Snapchat stories and Instagram selfies. According to Hootsuite, a social media authority, the average internet user has over seven social media accounts.

Odds are, the prospective candidate you’re about to interview has that many (if not more). Consider the availability of such platforms and the many uses they have, both for professional and business pursuits. The most common social media sites these days include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Any of these sites could contribute to professional activities, as many big companies use them for advertising and branding. But individuals also use them for entertainment and casual communication. And those personal profiles can tell you a whole lot about job applicants and their career goals, among other details.


What Social Media Can Tell You About Job Applicants

The big question is why you should explore social media to find out more about job applicants. What information can you find? And is it worth looking at prospective candidates’ understandably personal posts? In short, yes, it’s worth the effort—and the payoff can be huge.

You can find out details about an interviewee’s qualifications, such as:

  • Degree and educational specifics
  • Industry experience and affiliations
  • Career ambitions and goals
  • Endorsements from coworkers, managers, and other contacts
  • Real-life experiences relevant to your industry
  • Communication and language abilities

On the flip side, you may also find out undesirable information. Often, this information can lead you to skip over interviewing or hiring a candidate who won’t work out in the long run. Social media can reveal such disqualifiers as:

  • An unprofessional attitude
  • Discriminatory language and behavior
  • Inconsistencies in work history in comparison with resume/cover letter claims
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Badmouthing of former coworkers/bosses
  • Conflicts of interest, depending on the industry and role

An applicant’s social media account may also suggest how invested they are in their career. A person with an unprofessional profile or multiple negative posts may not care much about getting a new job. In contrast, someone who has a professional profile and thoughtful or creative posts likely cares more about their career.

If you have never dealt with an employee whose social media impacts your business, you might wonder what the point of it is. Maybe your clients aren’t on social media, or it’s not a big part of your business model. But an employee’s social media activity can potentially affect your business in serious ways.


How Employee Social Media Activity Can Impact Your Business

Ideally, your employees keep their social media profiles private and their LinkedIn status locked in. But in the real world, many employees will have open and marketable social media profiles, whether they’re looking for another job or not.

It’s possible your employees’ actions online can impact your business in big ways. Consider the negative publicity businesses receive when their employees use offensive language or showcase discriminatory attitudes online.

If a client finds offensive material on one of your staff member’s social media profiles, that reflects poorly on your brand. Someone who partakes in criminal activity can also cause legal challenges for your organization.

Also, if an employee with poor social media behavior later leaves your company—whether by choice or firing—they may make negative posts or accusations against you. Sharing proprietary information is another common concern regardless of industry.

Finally, you may find that a prospective hire who is prolific on social media may waste company time posing for selfies or sharing content. Especially if the job seeker constantly posts selfies from their current office or while in meetings, it’s safe to assume they won’t stop with a change of scenery.

In short, it’s not worth hiring someone with a questionable social media presence when the stakes are so high.


What You Can’t Use to Deny Someone a Job

Social media is an excellent tool to help select the most qualified job candidates. However, there are limitations to what information you can use to make hiring or disqualification decisions. Per the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers cannot use race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information, or age to make a hiring determination.

In addition, choosing not to offer someone a job because of their social media content requires some consideration. If you decide not to hire someone based on what they post online, you should be prepared to defend that position with evidence.

With our comprehensive social media background investigation, you won’t have to worry about that aspect of the hiring process.


How to Get Full Background Check Details on Job Candidates

If creating upwards of seven social media accounts and searching for multiple job applicants doesn’t sound like a smart use of your time, we have a solution. At applya, we connect companies with reliable vendors for employee background screenings and other valuable hiring verifications and tie the data together in a convenient and portable package.

With applya, you can get the information you need to make hiring decisions without the stress and time investment involved with sifting through multiple social media profiles. Contact us to get started today.