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Social Media and Screening Recruits

Social Media and Screening Recruits


Social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn have become popular hunting grounds for employers doing research on potential job candidates, and with the increased amount of time many people are spending online there’s more content than ever for employers to sift through.

In our last post, we discussed the outcome of a 2018 Harris Poll, conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder, that showed about 70 percent of employers utilize social media sites during a candidate search. More than half of those interviewed (57 percent) said they discovered online content that caused them to pass on an applicant.

While it can seem like a quick and easy way to look deeper into a candidate’s qualifications and persona, be careful as there are some risks to consider. For example subjects like, age, disabilities, race, gender or religious affiliation, should be avoided in a job application and treated equally in an online search. Additionally, posts relating to an applicant by others should always be taken with a grain of salt, given the sometimes anonymous and malicious nature of social media.

One safe way to use social media is to wait until after a face-to-face interview has occurred. This will allow you to seek information relevant to the position at hand. It also takes away the temptation to make quick decisions based on social media content alone. Consider:

  • Do the online qualifications match up with the resume?
  • How well does the person you are looking to fill that marketing position market themselves?
  • Do they show a level of creativity and professionalism that matches your search? Or have they posted inappropriate memes, photos or videos, as well as content relating to drug use or other improper or illegal pursuits?
  • If you do see content that makes you question a candidate, take a screenshot so that you can follow up with the applicant when appropriate.
  • And finally, always (ALWAYS) keep your searches – and considerations of the content you find – equal among all applicants.

As you contemplate the use of social media content in the hiring process, you should develop a written policy that outlines how and what content may be used in the interview screening process. This can include the time spent on each search, the type of information that will be researched and at what point in the review process social media searches will be used. It is essential that you use the policy consistently, that way should accusations of discriminatory hiring practices come to light, you can back up your methods.

And in terms of the recruitment process, do not use social media networks exclusively as they may cause inadvertent violations of the Fair Hiring Act. An example would be LinkedIn where the vast majority of users are Caucasian.

If you choose to utilize a Consumer Reporting Agency like Risk Assessment Group to do an online search, some additional procedures are required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

  • Inform the applicant of the use of information for employment decisions
  • Provide the notice in writing -- separate from the employment application
  • Provide the applicant with any relevant social media posts that were discovered
  • Give the applicant notice of his or her rights under the FCRA
  • Permit the candidate to rebut the information before a final decision is made


The growing popularity of social media across can muddy the waters as you’re looking to make the right hire, but a company that has done its due diligence through a fair and balanced process will have the upper hand in avoiding troubles down the road. If you would like additional guidance along the way, an accredited Consumer Reporting Agency like Risk Management Group is here to support you.

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