For any business, it is imperative to hire candidates that have the required qualifications and integrity to do the job. The right candidates for the job ensure a healthy work environment and help businesses achieve their goals. However, hiring has become unpredictable. It is no longer possible to accept candidates at face value.
To have an efficient hiring process it is vital for businesses to delve into the background of the candidates. This gives a better understanding of candidates’ abilities and previous employment performance. Eliminating unsuitable candidates from the talent pool can minimise the risk of grievances and other forms of legal action against a company.
In the digital age, we see more people adopt social media. With a new Instagram influencer being born every minute and media-related mental health issues on the rise, it is vital to understand that users may not present themselves in the same way when in a professional environment. Due to these rapid changes and the vast amount of online data, organisations today are opting for social media checks to support their recruitment decisions.
Social media screening is a fast and cost-efficient solution. These checks can allow your organisation to streamline the onboarding process. Social media checks should not be a ‘fishing’ expedition. To remain fair and compliant, companies must only seek the information which is relevant to their recruitment process. However, candidates reserve the right under The Data Protection Act 2018 (GDPR), to ask for a copy of any data being captured. This would include any information associated with the social media screening.
This is why the following considerations are important when carrying out these checks:
- data is used fairly, lawfully, and transparently
- data is used for specified, explicit purposes
- data is used in a way that is adequate, relevant, and limited to only what is necessary
- data is accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
- data is kept for no longer than is necessary
- data is handled in a way that ensures appropriate security, including protection against unlawful or unauthorised processing, access, loss, destruction, or damage
social media checks can help businesses protect themselves against:
- potential addiction or substance abuse
- sexually explicit content
- illegal activities
- inappropriate / undesirable content
- self-harm/ harm to others
- violent content
- hate and discriminatory behaviour
- extreme views
benefits of social media checks
Social media checks are heavily influencing the recruitment process within HR departments globally, here’s why:
Social media screening allows you to view a candidate from another perspective. This can help in understanding the person outside of a professional environment. For example, they may do volunteering or charitable work. Furthermore, it may detail what qualities or concerns they could bring to the workplace.
- added support
These checks allow you to check for anything which may support or contradict the candidate's professional experience, such as qualifications and work history. You may also be able to identify key or soft skills they may have forgotten to mention, on either their application or during the interview process. For example, their ability to showcase excellent communication or forward creative thinking. In contrary to this you may find the negative concerns regarding the candidates spelling, grammar or choice of words.
- reduced cost
As you are probably aware the amount of time and money in hiring new employees can be extensive. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure you get the right person, the first time. Re-advertising, multiple attempts of onboarding, and interviewing exhaust the company’s resources. Social media background checks can not only reduce this cost but save you a vast amount of time in the future.
- business safety
Social media background checks can ensure the companies’ reputation remains intact. In more extreme circumstances, it can even protect employees from any potential threat a candidate poses. Proper screening can help your company improve its retention rate.
It is a common practice that you should not consider certain protected attributes in a background check or any other part of the procurement process. When doing a social media check internally, it is highly likely you will unwittingly learn things about the candidates’ protected attributes. Decision-making based on protected attributes is both immoral and illegal and if proven, could result in prosecution.
To avoid any issues regarding an unconscious bias, it may be worth getting an employee who will not be part of the decision-making to review the candidate’s information. Alternatively, you could outsource your social media background checks to a third-party company. Searches conducted by third parties eliminate the risk of GDPR or unconscious bias, by using specified categories to highlight any negative or positive content you should be made aware of. Anything identified will be supported with evidence and shown in a report to you.