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Why Should Employers Make Social Media Part of Any Background Screening?

According to the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of Americans use social media in some form. Odds are, the person you’re considering for an open position at your company has at least one social media account. But why should you make social media part of your background screening process when hiring new workers? Here we’ll cover what social media screening is and why you should consider it.


What Does Social Media Screening Involve?

Checking potential applicants’ or employees’ social media profiles involves reading through the posts, reviewing images, and learning more about the person behind the online persona. Searching for and then combing through multiple applicant profiles can take a while, which is why it’s not something most hiring departments consider.

Instead of spending hours navigating social media and checking on multiple facets of each profile, you can have our team do the work for you. So, why should you consider adding social media screening to the to-do list for potential hires?


6 Reasons You Should Screen Your Employees Using Social Media

Here are six crucial reasons you should consider a social media screen on potential employees.


1. Confirm Recommendations and References

Social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter tend to highlight professional relationships. LinkedIn, especially, brings together professionals from similar industries and occupations. And in such a connected digital world, observing a job applicant’s profile can tell you whether they are up-front about their real-life references.

If your applicant boasts high-level organizational skills and many of their connections endorse that ability, that’s good news. Of course, if your candidate claims to be a degree holder but their Twitter feed notes that they’re a college dropout, that sheds further light on their desirability as a new hire.

Overall, LinkedIn is typically a good start for perusing a candidate’s qualifications, too. Because the layout features applicants’ current and past jobs, a quick scan of the details confirms or conflicts with what is in their file. Beyond what the candidate states they’re good at, social media may offer evidence in support or denial of those claims.


2. See a Casual Sample of Skills

No one expects social media users to have proper spelling and grammar all the time. This is especially true of more casual platforms like Twitter and Instagram. After all, a limited number of characters often means necessary abbreviations.

But seeing how a candidate expresses their thoughts in such an open forum can showcase some of their abilities. If you are seeking a bilingual hire, for example, their social media activity can endorse their linguistic tendencies.

A person’s social media profile can also indicate whether they can communicate clearly and effectively. Are arguments articulate and clear, or full of foul language and evidently a gut-reaction response? You can tell whether they lose their cool during arguments or if they can remain calm and get their point across. And of course, decent spelling, grammar, and punctuation go a long way in many industries.

Other more “casual” skill samples include areas such as navigating technology or being able to work as part of a team. Based on what types of content a job applicant shares, comments on, and posts on their social media pages, you may find ample evidence of their ability to handle the job you’re hiring for.


3. Avoid Potential Hiring “Red Flags”

From a penchant for colorful language to the habit of talking negatively about others, some people tend to let it all out online. And many people use social media in ways that throw up red flags for potential employers.

By scanning an applicant’s profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more, key indicators suggest what that person may be like in real life. Habits like sharing confidential work details or talking badly about past employers indicate that your desirable candidate just became undesirable.

And whether you have already run workplace drug testing on a candidate, sometimes social media reveals more than you might expect. If a job candidate openly shares their not-so-legal habits online, it may not be worth your company’s time to process their application.

Similarly, a candidate who regularly posts media related to partying and hangovers may also turn out to be a waste of time. While employees are free to enjoy their downtime, your clients’ perceptions may be different than the employee’s (or yours).


4. Gauge Investment in the Industry

For some companies, an applicant’s experience level or interest in the overall industry may not be of interest. But for specialized companies with a unique product or service, hiring staff that knows their way around your industry can prove invaluable. To find those candidates, a glimpse of their social media is often all you need.

A candidate who is invested in your industry (or the organization itself) will likely showcase their interest digitally. Their LinkedIn profile may show past roles in related fields. They may follow your company (or your competitors) on Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram.

They may share or comment on your content already—which has the added benefit of showing they did their homework before applying to work with you. Engaging with your company’s content and media can suggest a potential hire is eager for the opportunity, another way social media screening can benefit your HR team.


5. Check for Company Culture Compatibility

Company culture is a vital part of your organization’s ability to conduct business effectively. A thriving and supportive company culture means happy employees, cohesive teams, and a willingness to work together to solve problems.

Finding someone who is the right cultural fit for your company goes beyond typical markers of “culture,” however. For example, maybe your industry encourages out-of-the-box thinking and problem-solving. A person whose creativity shines through their social media profile may prove a more suitable candidate than one who colors within the lines.

Conversely, if your industry is a corporate environment, a more reserved personality may be a better fit. Combined with a phone or in-person interview, a social media survey can support your perceptions of each candidate and help make the right hiring decision clearer.

Whether through photo documentation of hobbies or thoughtful commentary, each applicant’s personality (and strengths) can indicate whether they will be a good fit for your team. These tidbits can also tell you a lot about where they see themselves in the future—and how that ties in with your business objectives.


6. Explore Applicant Personality

While not every person conveys their exact personality through social media activity, it’s often a good indicator of who they are as a person. Researchers suggest that the way people use social media says a lot about their real-life personalities.

Even a profile picture can indicate you fall into one of many “personality categories”—including those of agreeableness, extroversion, neuroticism, and extroversion. In short, social media can say a whole lot more about a person than what they write in their resume and cover letter.

After all, job applications tend to involve people talking themselves up. Finding out the truth behind a person’s written claims helps both parties find the right fit when it comes to employment. And it could save you an interview with someone who is not right for your organization.


Next Steps for Social Media Screening

Checking out social media profiles is a relatively unobtrusive way to fact-check a job applicant’s information. It’s also an easy way to check out their personality, even without an interview. And with the help of applya’s quality screening vendors, you can feel confident that you’re hiring people who are honest, qualified, and reliable.

Of course, there are federal limitations on an employer’s ability to check its workers’ accounts. However, you can decide not to hire someone based on the information they post online, saving yourself time, trouble, and profits, too.