Is trawling social media the future of background checks?

Is trawling social media the future of background checks?

Is trawling social media the future of background checks? The number of employers who use social media to screen job candidates has reached an all-time high in the US, according to a recent poll commissioned by CareerBuilder. About 70 percent they used social media before hiring – a significant rise from 60 percent last year, and 11 percent in 2016. 

"Most workers have some sort of online presence today– and more than half of employers won't hire those without one," said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. Results came from a February to March survey of 2380 hiring and human resources managers in the US private sector.

Employers cited different reasons for canvassing a candidate’s social media profile. Over half (61 percent) of employers said they were looking for information that supports a candidate’s qualifications. Half (50 percent) were looking for a candidate’s professional online persona, while less than a quarter (24 pcercent) looked for reasons not to hire the candidate.

Data also revealed that 54 percent of employers have found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate for an open role. Top reasons include:
  • provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information (39 percent)
  • information about candidates’ drinking or using drugs (38 percent)
  • discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion (32 percent)
  • the candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee (30 percent)
  • the candidate lied about qualifications (27 percent)
“Job seekers should make their professional profiles visible online and ensure any information that could negatively impact their job search is made private or removed,” said Haefner.

But having an online persona also has its benefits, as 44% of employers have found content on a social networking site that caused them to hire the candidate.  

The study also revealed that workers shouldn’t disregard what they post online even after getting hired.  Some 51 percent of employers use social media sites to research current employees, and 34 percent of them have found content online that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.