This is the first in a four-part series of articles—"How to Screen"—that explores the challenges that HR professionals face when screening different levels of employees and helps informs employers what they should be looking for.
Today marks the first entry in our July blog series about what to expect when you're thinking about conducting social media screens. Every level of employee, from entry-level college kids to experienced executives, are candidates for screening, but the calculus for how to screen them and what to expect varies by their age and work experience.
Our first blog concerns screening the millennial, entry-level demographic. It can be incredibly difficult to even imagine how large the social media footprint is for younger people, especially considering that, according to a Pew Research Poll, nearly 90% of people 18-29 have been active on some form of social media since elementary school.
There are a few basic rules to remember with this group. The first is that you should expect a lot of noise. You might find a candidate with 20,000 tweets and content filled with alcohol and bad language. These people are usually right out of college, and this behavior is more normalized and permissible in their generation. Sensible scrutiny is a virtue in conducting these screens. The second rule, which applies to candidates of all levels, is that content pertaining to bigotry, violence, or crime carries the most weight.
How to Screen Social Media for Entry-Level Candidates
In terms of overall usage for teens and young adults aged 12-24, Instagram is the most used, followed by Twitter and Facebook. It's important to cull all these sources and more to find red flags and a holistic picture of the millennials you are screening. Not every piece of flagged content is a determining factor in who the person is and how they will behave as an employee. You want to be able to figure out what is relevant for the people you are screening, as it pertains to the job they're applying for. If you found that someone tweeted about drugs two times five years ago, you might consider: how much does that really say much about them as an employee?
These entry-level people are much more likely to have a massive social media presence than any other group, given their age. This might seem like a positive but because of all the noise, it actually makes the search much more difficult. That's why it's important to have a measured analysis of whatever results come up. Figure out where you draw the line, and what matters to you as a business. Consistent values go a long way in navigating the milieu of millennial social media content.
In conducting background checks of young people, we tend to find the most troubling content, but that is usually a quantity problem; they've simply posted more than any other age group, having been active on social media since childhood. Along with that, youthful judgment may yield more problematic posts or pictures. Entry level employees will hopefully be with your company for a long time, so you want to screen and hire intelligently; just remember that also means taking their footprint with a grain of salt.
Once you've figured out what you consider relevant behavior, it is important that you do everything you can to remain consistent across each position and seniority level to ensure you are looking at candidates the same way. Which is why Fama has made consistency a key part of its automated process with the upcoming release of customizable "Behavior Flag Kits" that allow businesses to carve out role specific screening that matches what your company has deemed relevant.
How to Screen: Mid-Level Employees
How to Screen: Executives
How to Screen: On-Demand Employees
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.