News & Resources

When employers use Facebook in pre-employment screening

May 26, 2011 Matt Roesly

Employers conduct a host of pre-employment screening checks when looking into a potential job candidate's background before making a decision to hire him or her. Looking into a person's background is essential for a business owner or a firm of any size, and can help avoid some bigger issues down the pipeline. Many times, recruiters feel it is simply enough to go off of their "gut instinct" rather than to conduct thorough background checks - an approach that is not advised by experts. However, especially with the rise of social media networks, many employers are inclined to search websites such as Facebook to check in on their candidates, which could ultimately lead to some discriminatory decisions. "There is nothing unlawful about making checks on prospective employees but you must ensure the practice does not discriminate against individuals or groups of individuals," Cambridge-News reported. "For example, a [resume] is unlikely to reveal a candidate’s race or sexual orientation, but this may be apparent from Facebook. Although it is unlikely a candidate will be able to prove a decision was motivated by screening, it is something to be aware of." Instead of looking to social media, an employer should instead turn to criminal records and educational and work background. Additionally, they should ensure their pre-employment screening remains consistent across the board so as not to be discriminatory.