Should Companies Check the Social Media Accounts of Applicants?

Over the years, social media’s clout continues to expand and deepen. It even penetrates the workplace. In a CareerBuilder survey, over 65% of businesses use Facebook, Twitter, and other similar sites to screen applicants. That’s about 10 percentage points higher than in 2016.

The question is, is it both legal and ethical? Wouldn’t it be better if these companies work with employee verification service providers instead?

The Trend Called Social Recruiting

With so many applicants and only a few positions available, HR has the tough task of carefully screening candidates until they find the best. To do this, they must use many tools. Interestingly, these include social media.

According to CareerBuilder, around 30% of employers appoint someone to peek into the social media accounts of candidates. What do they look for? The survey revealed that:

  • 61% of employers want to find information that supports claims on the resume (this might be necessary since many candidates misrepresent or lie during the application process)
  • Half of the companies like to know if the applicant has any online persona
  • 24% are looking for reasons NOT to hire the applicant

Glassdoor adds more to the list. According to it, an employer can check a candidate’s photo description to determine whether the person presents themselves professionally. They can read tweets to know if the applicant likes to pick fights online.

They can also comb through friends’ list to know if the candidate knows other people from the industry. The company can then maximize this information to perform a back-door background check.

The HR department can call colleagues or former employers not on the applicant’s reference list. They can send a lengthy questionnaire asking for details about the person’s work experience, hard and soft skills, and character.

Social media can be a wealth of information. But then, is this okay and professional? This matter is a gray area.

So far, no law prohibits companies from peering into and using the information found on social media to screen candidates. If they keep it hush-hush, candidates will never know. However, this action still has limits.

For one, companies cannot look into social media accounts set to private. They also need the applicant’s consent if they want to do it. If the candidate learns that they have been screened out because of their social media profile, they can take legal action.

employees waiting to be interviewed

Leave It to the Experts

Although checking social media accounts of applicants is already becoming a norm, it can still be like treading in dangerous waters. One wrong move and it can hurt company reputation and even land people in legal trouble.

For those who like to learn more about their candidates, they can hire employment verification service providers instead. These companies work in tandem with the HR department, especially in double-checking resume information. These include:

  • Work experience and history
  • Job titles
  • Rehire eligibility
  • Reason for leaving (or termination)
  • Compensation received

These firms will begin with the references the applicant provide and expand their research. For instance, they can check information on LinkedIn, where profiles are more professional and public.

Employers need not resort to clandestine means to get the details they need. Companies still need to maintain respect throughout the hiring process.