Social media screenings have become an essential tool in the HR toolbox. According to Statista, an estimated 2.48 billion people around the world use social media, making online screening an integral part of a 21st century risk management process. At the same time, vetting online content can be tricky. While it’s indispensable from a pre-hire standpoint, it can also make candidates feel exposed or vulnerable. How can you ensure that by screening a candidate’s online presence or social media, you won’t be eroding trust or driving away top talent?
The foundation for an ethical screening process is obtaining consent. Informing prospective employees about their protections under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the first step. Per the FCRA, explain to the candidate what kind of information you will be screening, let them know what they can do to dispute any inaccuracies, and even describe why this is baked into your hiring process. Being upfront and transparent will help protect your organization from lawsuits, allay any fears of a rogue screening process, and retain the candidate’s trust.
Respecting the candidate’s privacy is equally important. While news articles, blog posts and arrest records that live in the public realm are fair game, private or hidden social media profiles remain just that—private. Like all of us, a prospective employee chooses what, and what not, to share with the outside world on social media and always has the right to delete their own content. By making clear to candidates that your screen pertains only to public online information, you can respect candidate privacy and foster a more amicable hiring process.
Many candidates worry about equity when they hear about online screening. To alleviate this, you can explain to prospective employees that your screening process does not involve protected classes of information and is concerned only with job-pertinent information. By telling candidates about what you actually use to make employment decisions and letting them know what their protections are under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), your candidates can rest knowing that they’re getting a fair shot at joining your organization.
How do you operate with transparency and consciousness when screening online content? Be forthright, courteous, and fair. Companies that prioritize consent, privacy, and equity will always earn more trust from prospective hires than companies who do not.
Disclaimer: Please note that the materials available in this post are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.