Social Media Background Checks…

As far as I know in my career I have skipped out on this but one could easily guess that this will be as common as any other pre-employment background check. This new thing I am talking about is the Social Media Background checks.

If you are reading this I am guessing it is safe to bet you have some other form of social media. When you apply for a job you most likely agree to a background check and your potential future employer goes out and hires a firm like Social Intelligence and then they go out and scour the internet for all the good and bad things you have done for the past seven years. Then it assembles a report. These reports include professional honors, charitable work, and they include negative information that meets specific criteria: online evidence of racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity.

If you are giving high fives at a cross burning on a public site out there, well the career prospects may have just dwindled a bit. Is it right, well that depends on how you look at it?  You can still perform at a high level and have a private life as well, but to the company you might look like more of a liability with all those partying, or scantily clad pictures you have online. A company will always look out for themselves, so remember you look like a liability to them. Now the only real problem is how do they know that they have the correct person?

These social media background checks have been approved by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) so you can bet it will be adopted by more and more employers in the near future. Now the check is little more than a rundown of Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Twitter, Craigslist, blogs, wikis, and others in search of dirt, but if you ever want to find a job you may want to lock down the privacy settings on your social media accounts. That means really paying attention to all those times that Facebook has changed their privacy settings as it could mean that you have just defaulted back to having everything public. Plus if you really are dumb enough to have pictures of videos of yourself doing illegal things on your profile well go delete them now. That is just becomes evidence.

What do you think should a company disqualify you for something that could not even have any effect on your job performance?

Sort of makes you want to make sure you have everything locked down.


6 responses to “Social Media Background Checks…

  1. Great post! This is something that I do not think that we have discussed in class, but it’s very important.

    You asked the guestion, “What do you think? Should a company disqualify you for something that could not even have any effect on your job performance?” 

    I believe the answer is yes and no. On one hand, as an employee, you are representing the company. If something you say or do is published online, it could effect the reputation of your employer. It could also effect your job performance. For example, at my old company, one of my duties was to train a new hire. On the first day we meet, she told me he was hungover. Why you’d tell your mentor that is beyond me. Fast forward to a year later, she didn’t show up to work one Monday. Our manager freaked out when she couldn’t get a hold of her and almost filed a missing persons report. Turns out she was arrested for a DUI and was fulfilling her mandatory three nights in jail. She was later fired. Perhaps, if HR had done their research they’d find the girl’s Facebook page filled with her late night debaucheries. I realized that this situation is rare. More likely than not, a employee will be able to complete his or her assigned tasks despite his or her personal life. 

    On a personal note, all my social networks are private and I intend to keep in that way. When applying for a job, I usually will disable the accounts temporarily. I have heard that employers do search their prospects social media sites and will more often than not hire the one that doesn’t have an account or profile. 

    • Yea I would think that a temporary disabling of all media profiles would be worse than keeping a couple just because people realize that nearly everyone has a social media account in one form or another. It just looks like you have something to hide with nothing.

      I was reading some of the stories of things the searches have found and was really sort of shocked at what kind of stuff people will put online. One talked about people having photos with drugs and drug plants. Just seems like that could be turned into law enforcement. Another said he was recommended to not be hired because he had pictures of himself with guns; however, without the rest of the story on that one I don’t see where that is a no hire thing.

      It will be interesting to see where this leads. I do wonder though how many people have been told no for the company getting the wrong person’s social media account?

  2. I am currently trying to find a job. One job is with the state government and they do an extensive background check. I know that my social online life is very boring with not much going on other than IMC and boy scouts so I am not too concerned. What does bother me is the post that “friends” have on my wall. I have some old childhood acquaintances that don’t share a family friendly lifestyle. I wonder if that will end up counting against me because it may seem that I associate myself with them even though I haven’t seen them in 13 years. I feel that if there is illegal activity going on such as underage drinking and drug use, a company should take that into consideration. However, when do we have freedom of speech. If I where to post something that would be considered racist or anti-American, should that be counted against me or is that my right? Of course its my right, but it is also the right of the company to not choose me.

    • Well really when you think about it if they can see your profile and any one thing they even have any kind of personal prejudice against you are out. Don’t like religious people your out, don’t like hunters you are out, see anything completely unrelated your job a potential employer doesn’t like and you could be ruled the lesser candidate. Would I want to work for someone who found those things unworthy of a job, no. However, lets hope it never got to that point because could you prove you were discriminated against, most likely not.

      Also freedom of speech pretty much goes out when you accept at will employment. You can bash your government (as long as your not military) and get away with it but the same is not true with a job it really is do your views look bad on the company well you could part ways. It is an interesting thing really. People give up things to allow themselves to work free speech being a major one of them.

      Now that I have brought you way down good luck in finding a job. What area of the world are you looking and what you kind of job you after?

  3. Lindsey,
    This is a really interesting concept. In California the laws regarding former employers and providing references are pretty strict as are the possible legal implications if they do provide information. For that reason, most places in California will only confirm dates of employment and position held. So it’s very difficult for potential employers to find out much information without conducting something like these social media type background checks that your wrote about.

    I don’t have a problem with these types of checks, but I don’t have anything to hide (at least I don’t think so!) I absolutely think that an employee who posts photos of them participating in illegal activities or even those that show poor judgment are probably a higher risk for an organization that those who don’t participate in those types of activities. Granted just because the pictures are not online doesn’t mean people have stellar judgment either! But I think with the economy the way that it is, employers have every right to find the best possible candidate for their organization and if that means choosing not to hire someone because they posted pictures of themselves dancing drunk on a table, so be it. It goes back to the old concept that if you would be embarrassed if your mom saw you doing it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it, let alone posting it online! ~ Joyce

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