Social media screening is a common increasingly necessary way for employers to learn more about candidates and cover all their bases in the hiring process. With that said, there are a number of guidelines to follow with respect to compliance and getting a full, balanced picture of each and every potential candidate. Here are five of our most important guidelines.
How to Avoid Legal Risk When Screening Social Media
1. Beware In-House Analysis
Companies who use an employee to manually scrub through candidates’ online identities are almost always at a disadvantage because they are unlikely to be aware of the constantly evolving employment laws. As a result, businesses open themselves up to class action exposure. They may come across protected information, which should not be a part of the hiring process.
2. Be Transparent and Compliant
All organizations must be Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliant, both for legal reasons and to ensure the candidate has their own voice in the decision-making process. Companies must take care to give candidates the opportunity to explain any potentially adverse social media posts and activities. Without being fully candid with applicants, businesses expose themselves to potential litigation.
3. Understand There Is No Silver Bullet
Social media and online identity analysis help fill in the gaps of information on a candidate’s background, but rarely provide the full picture. This sort of analysis should be done in conjunction with other, more traditional types of background checks, interviewing, references, and personal assessments.
4. Be Consistent and Do Not Discriminate
Using inconsistent screening criteria in determining what is acceptable on a candidate’s online background and what is not makes it easy to unintentionally discriminate against certain groups of people. It’s important for companies to set consistent and precise criteria to ensure a focus on job-related factors. This will also help measure an individual against the rest of the candidate population.
5. Stay Ahead of the Curve
Technology and social media platforms are outpacing the law, and it’s impossible for companies to keep up on these changes on their own. Ask any employment lawyer and they will likely tell you that the most important things a company can do is ensure consistency in their compliance with FCRA, local and international laws, and involve candidates in the hiring process.
Many companies now find social media screening to be a crucial part of the hiring process that can provide a more complete picture of a candidate. Organizations, including executive search firms, should make sure they follow a consistent set of criteria for all potential hires, involve candidates in the decision-making process, and adhere to all local and international employment laws.