Background Screening via Social Networks Poses Opportunities, Risks

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As social networking websites continue to expand, organizations remain uncertain on how to include it in their employment screening program. While there are many benefits to using it as a talent acquisition tool, many risks remain when using it to check the background of a candidate or employee, as revealed in a recent article by HRO Today.

Many organizations currently leverage social networks in sourcing, allowing them to quickly and efficiently obtain relevant information on potential fits for open positions. This can lead to sourcing that can be completed in a matter of hours or days, not weeks or months. However, the benefits to using social media for employment screening are not as clear or simple.

A recent example of social networking being used to screen came when a job offer was rescinded when the candidate complained on Twitter about the type of work they would be doing. An employee of the company saw the negative post, which resulted in the candidate not being hired.

On the other hand, employers need to be cautious in using social networking to screen candidates, as discrimination lawsuits could result. One pitfall of using social networking to screen is that it may unintentionally reveal a characteristic that is considered a protected class by the EEOC.

One tip to help ensure compliance, according to a partner at Klein Zelman Rothermel, is to designate a “screener” within your organization that reviews social networking profiles for only the information you request, such as employment or education history, thus minimizing the risk of exposure to sensitive information that could result in discrimination claims.

To learn other tips and risks of including social media as part of your background screening program, read the full HRO article: The Gathering Storm of Social Network Litigation

Discover the adoption rate of social networking screening by your peers and other screening trends in the 2010 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report.

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HireRight

HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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