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What Is Social Media Screening?

Do you want to improve your hiring and screening process for potential employees? Out of the hundreds of skilled applicants, it can be challenging to pick the right employee.

The good news is that there is another way to filter them. This new filtering process is what we call social media screening. Others interchange the term with “social media background check,” but they are different.

Below is a more in-depth discussion of what social media screening is and how it works. We’ll also talk about its legality, advantages, disadvantages, and more. Keep reading to improve your knowledge about social media screening.

What Is Social Media Screening?

Social media screening is the method of examining a job applicant’s social media pages. You can use social media to learn more about an applicant’s behavior, thought process, and more. From it, you learn relevant data that may affect your decision to hire a candidate.

When you’re looking for potential hires, there’s a big chance that they are active social media users. In 2020, over 3.96 billion people in the globe were active users of social media platforms. When done right, you or your hiring manager can look through their social media to screen them.

What Does Social Media Screening Include?

Doing social media screening is a lot like conducting a background check. In a traditional background check, you have a right to ensure that a potential hire is safe for your company. You go over their records to assess if they may harm the business or create a safety hazard.

It’s also a reliable way to verify the applicant’s claims during interviews or in their resumes. The traditional background check includes inspecting records like:

  • Criminal history
  • Education discrepancies
  • Damaged driving record
  • False employment history
  • Poor credit history
  • Derogatory marks

In social media screening, you also look for negative factors that show an applicant’s work ethic. As a hiring manager conducting social media screening, you’ll look for content that is:

  • Racist or intolerant
  • Sexually explicit
  • Potentially illegal
  • Potentially violent

Often, these are the things you’d want to look out for when you do a social media screening. Looking for these types of information is within your right as an employer looking to hire. If you start fishing for private or protected class information, that’s when you can get in trouble.

The Legality of Social Media Screening

Social media screening isn’t as simple as checking out an applicant’s social media pages. There is a correct way to do it without going over the line of lawful and permissible screening. If you plan to conduct this type of screening, there are a few things you need to remember.

When hiring, you must always keep your nose out of protected class information. Protected classes are creations of federal and state law.

A protected class refers to a group of people that share a characteristic. They have protection from employment discrimination based on their common characteristics.

Protected class information includes information like:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Color
  • Citizenship
  • Genetic information
  • Religion or creed
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sex
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Marital status
  • Veteran status

Hiring managers must be careful about conducting social media screening. Many people aren’t afraid to show protected class information on their social media.

If a hiring manager comes across this information, they can’t disregard or “unsee” it anymore. It’ll put them in trouble, especially when it comes to legality.

Is Social Media Screening Necessary If It Can Put You in Legal Hot Water?

Social media screening isn’t a necessary step. Some companies stick to doing traditional background checks on potential hires. However, even if it isn’t necessary, it can give you a deeper understanding of your applicants.

Did you know that social media screening is more vital than a criminal background check? What people put forth on social media says more about their character than a record of past actions. Check out the full article on this to learn more about the weight of social media screening.

Pros and Cons of Social Media Screening

Like all things, social media screening comes with its assortment of pros and cons. Let’s discuss what they are in detail below.

Advantages of Social Media Screening

A benefit of using social media screening is that it lets you keep negative influence out of the company. You don’t want toxic employees in your organization. They can impact the productivity of the team and the work environment.

Many employers also find that they’re hard to fire. Sometimes, this fear keeps employers from opening a position to potential employees. With social media screening, you can prevent bad hires from entering your company.

Screening a potential hire through social media is cost-effective and time-efficient. You don’t need to wait for responses from references or past employers. You also get to gather information on the applicant’s professional references.

Other than that, it promotes equity for all candidates or potential hires. Because CVs use a business-oriented template, they hide some talents of some applicants. With social media screening, you never know when you might find hidden gems.

Disadvantages of Social Media Screening and How to Avoid Them

Social media screening also presents some risks. Conducting social media screening can generate bias, which can affect the screening process. You may gather too little or too much information about a candidate.

It can also create issues with off-duty conduct. Some potential employees may have also posted something five years ago that may seem prejudiced. Yet, does that mean that they still hold the same views or should get punished for it?

LinkedIn is the best platform for this type of screening since it focuses on a person’s business side. If you want to do social media screening, hire a third party to filter out privacy-class data. When they send back the information about a candidate, you only see relevant data.

Use Social Media Screening to Find the Right People

Now you know what social media screening is and how it works. We hope you understood the good, risky, and grave factors of using it.

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