Everyone’s talking about social media background checks as the next trend in employment screening. Companies already are popping up to probe into the personal Internet profiles of job applicants. While this type of pre-employment screening can in some cases be useful, there are thorny privacy issues and potential issues with bias and discrimination.
What if a social media background check on someone turns up nothing illegal but something an employer deems to be unsavory or simply in poor taste. Will their view of the applicant be unfairly skewed based on something that has nothing to do with the applicant’s ability to perform the job he or she has applied for?
The first step an employer should take when contemplating the implementation of some sort of social media background check for employees (current or prospective) is to take a look at the company’s internal social media policy. Do you have one? According to a recent survey, nearly half of all businesses do not have social media and networking policies in place, despite the fact that 76 percent use social networking for business purposes. The survey, conducted by Proskauer’s International Labor & Employment Group, was of more than 120 multinational employers.
If your company doesn’t have a social media policy, now’s the time to get busy crafting one. Set down some social media standards that employees are expected to adhere to, and have every employee sign a written copy of the policy. Having set standards for employees will give an employer a more objective way to screen potential employees using social media in the future.