February 15th, 2017 | Sterling

The Value of Social Media Screening

There is no way around it; we live in a social media world. It has come to a point where the first thing that people do after they wake up is check their social media accounts, and they are then connected throughout the entire day. According to We Are Social, the number of active internet users in the UK is 59.5 million while the number of active social media users is over 38 million and 33 million of these people engage with social media via mobile devices. UK Millennials are the largest group to participate in social media usage with over 84% saying they use some form of social media every day.

According to The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), in the US, 56% of recruiters say some of their best candidates are sourced via social media while 90% of recruiters use social media to vet candidates pre-interview. In the UK, a survey by Monster.co.uk and YouGov revealed that 36% of UK employers have rejected a candidate based on their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn profiles, while more than half of UK HR professionals admit that a candidate’s online reputation can influence their decision to hire them.

In our latest webinar, “Social Media Screening: Risks & Rewards,” Sterling discussed what social media screening is and why it is a valuable part of the background screening process, while also sharing who should be included in social media screening.

Why is Social Media so Valuable for HR?

Social media screening is very valuable to recruiters, hiring managers and employers. It is a way for them to see a picture of the person to go along with their CV. It humanizes the candidate and makes them more than just the words on their CV. Online profiles can be very revealing with both positive and negative content being shared in what is a very public domain. As shown in the stats above, employers are carrying out social media screening to vet candidates, but not everyone is comfortable with processing these checks. Attendees of the webinar were asked: “From a legal perspective, how do you feel about screening a candidate’s social media profiles?” 46.2% of the attendees were a little nervous about social media screening. 34.6% were quite comfortable with doing the social media screening, while 15.4% were very comfortable and 3.8% were very nervous about doing social media screening. When employers are doing social media screening they look at the following platforms, if they are screening at all:

  • LinkedIn-59%
  • Facebook-48%
  • Twitter-31%
  • Instagram-17%
  • Google+-10%
  • Pinterest-7%
  • We don’t screen candidates via social media-38%

The poll results are representative of the overall worries of social media screening. There is so much content on online profiles that can influence a hiring manager, but not all of this content will relate to a candidate’s work experience. Some information can be applied to a hiring decision, while other information cannot. Our webinar goes into more detail with regards to the type of insight which must not be used to make a hiring decision, but organisations must remain compliant and take great care when exposed to information about a candidate’s private life.

What is Social Media Screening?

What is social media screening? It is the process of capturing any activity on the internet relating to your candidate that is potentially incriminating. Vetting social media profiles can provide unique insight about a candidate and may reveal potentially unlawful, violent, racist, intolerant and sexually explicit behaviors that would not show up during the interview process. Another consideration with regards to social media screening is when to perform the checks. In another poll, the attendees were asked: “Beyond LinkedIn, at what point do you use social media to screen job candidates?” 50% of the respondents don’t use social media to screen their employees, 23.5% said they looked at a candidate’s social media profiles before an interview, 11.8% waited to do social media screening until the job offer and 14.7% did a combination of both. A key point to remember is that a candidate must be informed if a social media or other online source is used to research information that could affect their application.

It is highly recommended to use a third-party screening company for social media searches. A third party social screening solution will only focus on the relevant information that relates to job performance and workplace safety. Whereas, a hiring manager could look at a social media profile and unconsciously (or consciously) make a hiring decision based on looks or post types. There is a fine line between being compliant and looking at information about a candidate’s personal life from their online profiles.

How does an outsourced Social Media check work? Third parties adapt their searches to only use information that applies to the job. Sterling offers two types of screening: Character or Reputation searches. A Character search will look for negative behaviours that are publically available user-generated content. A Reputation search provides a 360-degree view of a candidate’s reputation and includes user-generated content, both positive and negative.

Who to include in your social media screening?

What type of candidates should you include in social media screening? Everyone! Millennials are not just the only ones using social platforms today. According to a Pew Internet Study reported in the NY Daily News, 60% of 50-64-year-olds and 43% of those over 65 now use Facebook. All industry sectors and job roles should also be included in social media screening.

With social media screening becoming more prevalent in the hiring process, it is very important that employers develop a clear policy towards the use of social platforms for recruitment purposes. Companies should have a background screening policy in place to help document compliance and the hiring process. There are risks and rewards for a company that performs online screening, find out what these are and much more in the On Demand version of the webinar.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.