Background checks are now a standard part of the recruitment process. Different types of checks like criminal, educational and employment background checks are routinely carried out. However, not many recruiters check the social media backgrounds of job applicants. This is a potentially costly mistake – given the centrality that social media plays in most people’s lives.
In today’s world, the majority of people use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. for both personal and professional purposes. As such, these platforms can provide invaluable insight about a person’s character. Therefore, conducting social media background checks can provide useful info which can help a recruiter to make better hiring decisions.
Social media is an invaluable source of information for one simple reason: people tend to let their guard down on social media. They are more forthright than they usually are in their applications or during interviews. As such, social media posts can provide a more accurate picture of who a person really is. There are a number of reasons why social media background checks are invaluable. Here are some of the most important.
First of all, social media background checks can flag off behaviors which are unacceptable to an organization. For instance, there are people who openly brag about taking illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines. Some even post pictures of themselves in an intoxicated stupor. If an organization has a no-drug use policy, then social media can be a great way for identifying drug users.
Secondly, media checks can help to flag off behaviors which can damage an organization’s reputation. For instance, individuals who openly express racist opinions are a potential public relations disaster waiting to happen. Similarly, people who express sexist and religiously intolerant views or use derogatory language can damage an organization’s reputation. This is especially true if the individuals will occupy positions in which they are a visible representation of the organization.
A case in point is the fracas that was caused by the proposed appointment of Ran Baratz as the new media chief for Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Baratz’s proposed appointment caused a stir especially in the US, because of his vitriolic Facebook posts. He had previously called President Obama “anti-Semitic” and described US Secretary of State John Kerry as having the “mental ability of a 12-year-old.”
A simple social media background check would have avoided such a situation. It would have flagged off Baratz’s offensive posts, and caused Netanyahu to perhaps reconsider hiring him as media chief. That is exactly what a social media check can do to any organization. It can enable recruiters to identify social media behaviors which can be potentially damaging to an organization’s reputation.
Finally, social media background checks can be helpful for identifying unprofessional behavior. There are certain behaviors which are unacceptable in professional circles. For instance, there are people who post critical comments about their bosses or colleagues on social media. Such behavior causes resentment and destroys teamwork within an organization. As such, most organizations would reconsider hiring such people.
The bottom line is that social media background checks can enable recruiters to get a holistic picture of a candidate. This is especially true if it complements other types of background checks like criminal, educational and employment checks. Therefore, in order to get a complete picture of a job applicant, organizations need to include social media as a key component of the background checks strategy.