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Conducting Google, Social Media background searches on job applicants

Aug 24, 2020 MicroBilt News

Conducting Google, Social Media background searches on job applicants

Finding the right person for the job is always challenging. Not only must you find applicants with the proper credentials, but you also need to identify those who will work well with the rest of the team. COVID-19 has made this task more difficult. To protect current employees and to avoid the complications of state quarantine rules, many companies are opting only to conduct video interviews, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. With workers being hired without personal interactions, background checks are critical. Google and social media searches can provide insights into the applicant, but they also have pitfalls.

Who Uses Google and Social Media?

A CareerBuilder study found that seven in ten employers use social networking sites to research potential hires, and 66 percent use search engines.  IT and manufacturing employers were most likely to use online research, while those in retail sales were less likely.

What Useful Info Can I Gain?

Online research can help support an applicant's claims of experience or education. Many employers use LinkedIn as a secondary resume verification site. Personal-oriented social media such as Facebook and Twitter can help you determine if the applicant is well-rounded and whether their personality seems to be a good match. Searches can also show whether the applicant has shared confidential information, badmouthed a previous employer, or lied about an absence. They also can turn up inappropriate posts, such as lewd photographs or discriminatory comments.

What Are the Pitfalls?

While searches can provide valid, helpful information, they also can pose legal problems. For example, you may discover whether an employee is in a protected class based on race, age, or disability. Or you find out information, such as religion, marital status, and political affiliation, that you cannot legally ask in an interview. If you have this knowledge and you don't hire the candidate, you set yourself up for a lawsuit that you based your decision on illegal criteria.

Some states, such as New York, have outlawed discrimination based on lawful off-duty activities. You may discover during a search that the candidate has demonstrated in favor of an unpopular cause or participated in union organizing activities. If you then fail to hire them, you may be sued unless you can provide a valid and legal reason for your hiring decision.

On the other hand, if you hire someone who turns out to endanger the lives of others and this information could have been found on the applicant's public Facebook profile, you may be liable for not considering it.

Finally, searches may provide inaccurate information. You may turn up information about the wrong person with the same name or an untrue or defamatory review. Also, if an applicant has lied on their resume, they are likely to post false credentials. 

The best way to get to obtain the information while avoiding pitfalls is to partner with a professional. Microbilt can help with criminal checks, motor vehicle checks, and verification of credentials.