Posts, Pics and Profiles, Oh My! Is Your Organization Using a Social Media Background Check? | DCR Workforce Blog

Posts, Pics and Profiles, Oh My! Is Your Organization Using a Social Media Background Check?

social media background check

Putting your best social media face forward

“It was only one drink and I wasn’t even drinking in the picture, I just raised my glass,” Sabrina said about the picture of her with an alcoholic drink in her hand that was posted on Facebook. It didn’t get a good response from her family and friends. Comments were flying, implying that she was partying too much. This was from her friends and family…but it could have devastating effects if an employer or potential employer saw it.

We all know someone who shares everything that happens to them on Facebook or tweets every five minutes. In our personal lives the only consequence may be a Twitter war, a few bad comments or being 86’d from someone’s friends list. In the workforce world, the stakes are getting much higher. Most employers now are using social media background checks as a way to screen and even eliminate job applicants.

Is social media screening a gateway to hiring discrimination?

According to Jobvite’s 2015 National Survey, 75% of the recruiters surveyed said references to marijuana are negative and 72% of recruiters didn’t like spelling or grammar errors. Here’s an eye-opener: 73% of recruiters didn’t even approve of selfies!

In addition, Jobvite’s 2014 National Survey mentioned that recruiters found things like profanity, sexual posts and gun references very inappropriate. Most of the things mentioned above seem like a good idea to avoid discussing due to their controversial nature. However, the fact that grammar and spelling mistakes in an applicant’s social media ranked so negatively is important to note since typos and other writing mistakes can easily happen. Recruiters want to hire applicants who have good communication skills and who are viewed as decent, responsible and professional.

All of the above is good and well. However, since the majority of employers are screening a person’s social media profiles, illegal discrimination against applicants may creep in as a factor. Employers need to tread carefully so they don’t appear to reject someone based on their gender, race, religion, age, sexual orientation or disability. While employers don’t want to be accused of unfairly rejecting any applicant, they do need to note obvious red flags that call into question a person’s knowledge, skills or conduct.

Polishing your posts, pics and profile

Now that you know what employers don’t like about your posts, pics and profile, it’s time to clean up your image so you look more polished and professional. First, go back and delete anything that might seem even remotely negative or controversial to recruiters. Seriously, you really don’t need to share every part of your life with the entire world. Similarly, you don’t have to give all your friends the ability to post on your wall, so change your settings to limit who can and can’t. If you’re career-minded, you may want to just have a profile on LinkedIn. This way you can still network with professionals, but you keep your personal life private. However, if you’re looking for a job in communications or marketing, Jobvite’s 2015 National Survey found that 33% of recruiters in those fields view limited social media presence as a negative.

Once you have your social media check in check, it’s time to start building yourself into a more responsible and marketable job applicant. What do recruiters want to see in job applicants? The 2015 Jobvite National Survey found that 76% of recruiters like it when applicants participate in a local or national organization or perform volunteer work. In the same survey, 87% of recruiters said that a candidate’s enthusiasm during the interview leaves a lasting impression, as does industry knowledge and conversation skills.

Sabrina is still busy on Facebook. She continues to share all of her adventures, random thoughts and pictures. However, with more employers using social media to screen applicants, you need to be vigilant and stay professional.

A good rule of thumb with social media is if something could create even the slightest doubt about your character, don’t post it. You have to build relationships in a positive way while putting your best face forward.

Does your company use social media in the recruitment process?

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.