Social Media Employment Screening in 2023

There has been a substantial digital evolution in the last year. In fact, the digital world has grown more during the coronavirus pandemic than in the past few years combined. 

Virtual meetings became the norm, and many employers’ new ways of working extended to include virtual job interviews and pre-employment screening. One specific type of background screening that we’ll focus on in this guide is social media employment screening.

Job Interviews and Background Checks

Recent times have seen companies rely on technology to strategically streamline the candidate sourcing, interviewing and background screening process. While the world has been dealing with the continual effects of COVID-19, with many being forced to work from home, these previously face-to-face tasks have become almost entirely remote.

Despite the easing of restrictions in the UK, as more organisations begin to welcome employees back into offices, virtual interviews are still commonplace. Not every business is as far along on their journey back to normality as others. 

While it’s expected that face-to-face interviews will become more common in the coming months, that doesn’t change the fact that some companies will continue to utilise technology to their advantage when it comes to interviewing and shortlisting candidates. Applicants need to be assessed in numerous ways so employers can get a broader perspective of who they are and how they will be a great addition to their business.

One of the most efficient and productive ways of understanding applicants, alongside traditional background checks such as employment history, education verification and character references, is through social media searches.

Are Social Media Background Checks Legal?

Social media employment screening is entirely legal, as employers have the right to access publicly available information to assess risks. 

Over the last decade (and beyond), social media has proven that it’s fundamental for how people engage with one another. Unsurprisingly, it’s influenced how HR professionals and recruitment agencies source, hire and screen prospective employees. They are, therefore, legal as long as the hiring organisation conducts them in an authorised, compliant and secure manner. 

It is legal to conduct a social media search on an employee, provided that it’s compliant. This means that the background screening check:

  • Provides relevant disclosure and authorisation, following the candidate or employees’ permission.
  • Focuses on explicitly business-related information and redacts protected class information (race, religion, sex, age, skin colour etc.) when disclosed.
  • Is not conducted using illegal, hacked or unethical software or tools to gain access to an applicant’s social media account.
  • Is conducted in good faith, to ensure the correct person is being reviewed.

Why do Employers Check Social Media?

A person’s digital footprint provides an enormous amount of information that can be a valuable asset to hiring managers and HR professionals. Companies checking social media can use the information to hire better employees, and a social media search can unveil information that adds credence to an application. Conversely, it can have the opposite effect.

Social media background checks can draw attention to behaviours that could ultimately put your organisation at risk. This could be behaviours such as:

  • Bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Racism
  • Drug use or content
  • Obscene language
  • Sexually explicit content
  • Violent conduct
  • Threatening behaviour
  • Foul language

Organisations want to make their hiring decisions as well-informed as possible, and an employer social media check can go a long way in achieving this. Social media reference checking can also support a candidate’s application, for example, if they volunteer regularly, take part in charity events or community activities.

The main reasons why employers check social media to source and screen candidates are:

  • To feel reassured that a candidate has the right credentials for joining the team.
  • To ensure that there is no risk to their organisation, their employees or customers.
  • To confirm or contradict any suspicions about the candidates.
  • To assess any discrepancies between what a candidate has said in an interview.

As said earlier, organisations have to request social media checks with express permission and they must be conducted in a compliant way. Many of them inevitably turn to third party background check companies to avoid any risks of unconscious bias.

Why use a Social Media Employment Screening Agency

At Eurocom CI, we conduct social media reference checks on our clients’ behalf. With us, there is less risk to your organisation, as we will only provide you with the necessary information related to your business risks. We will always ensure any protected information is not disclosed. 

Many organisations turn to our services as we can carry out other types of background check simultaneously. Whether this is a right to work check, ID verification, credit check or AML check, we can help. Our scalable solutions are designed to benefit your organisation and make your life easier.

Contact us today to see how we can help.