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Seemingly every day, social media becomes a bigger piece of the hiring process. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn provide large, professional networks that can help job seekers find the perfect position and help employers narrow done their recruiting search. Social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can tell job seekers a lot about a prospective employer before a job interview, and it can tell employers a lot of important information about a candidate. But the use of social media as part of a pre-employment screening strategy is not without controversy.

Some argue that social media screening is unethical and violates candidates’ right to privacy. Many believe the views and opinions people express in their free time have no bearing on their ability to get the job done. Still, HR professionals who do implement social media screening often feel the information and photos posted on these platforms is in the public domain, and it would be negligent not to use it.

Before screening your job candidates’ social media posts and profiles, make sure you understand the pros and cons of such an action before adding it to your HR toolkit.

Pros of Social Media ScreeningCons of Social Media Screening
Insight into professional history/network
of a candidate
Breaching privacy or uncovering personal matters
Fast, easy background checkInconsistent information available
Recommendations can be an added advantageLack of reliability
Relevant to the social media professionalsIncrease in favoritism
Opportunity for the candidateToo much information to easily analyze
Limited screening is effectivePossible legal issues

Perhaps the biggest potential drawback to conducting a social media screening on a job candidate is that It could raise equal employment opportunity concerns in certain cases. When social media vetting becomes part of the candidate screening process, a case could be made that it might unfairly discount candidates who don’t have active social media presences. If an HR manager views a social media profile and notices that a candidate is African-American, might that affect the decision to interview, even subconciously? What if a candidate doesn’t have a social media footprint at all? Will that adversely affect their chances of being hired or even interviewed? A business lawyer may believe that it could.

Ultimately, social media research should be only a small part of the pre-screening process. HR professionals should be sure to conduct a thorough screening that includes a criminal background check and reference check to get the full picture of the applicant. Facebook and LinkedIn only give a glimpse at part of a candidate’s story. KRESS helps clients get the full picture. If you have a question about social media screening or need to implement a full pre-employment screening policy fast, contact the experts at KRESS today.