How Social Media Checks Can Help Employers Avoid Costly Hiring Mistakes

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Written By Berry Mathew

Most people have a public profile on social media. Even if their settings are private, an employer can find their likes, interests, friends, photos, and general musings.

Professional social media checks help an organization assess a candidate without the risk of breaching compliance or unconscious bias. They also look for threats, such as affiliation with criminal organizations, involvement in illegal activities, etc.


A social media background check is a crucial part of any recruitment process. It helps reduce risks to brand, reputation, and confidentiality breaches by identifying negative behaviors such as bullying, racism, drug-related comments, and excessive foul language. It also uncovers any affiliations with illegal groups and associations that could threaten your business.

A professional social media check can also help prevent hiring fraud. Many social media accounts are difficult to verify and can be created by identity thieves. Moreover, if a job applicant has more than one account, it can be hard to tell which is the real one. A professional service will be able to verify and validate the most reliable data from a candidate’s public profile.

It’s imperative to remember that not all applicants’ social media accounts are pertinent to the employment they seek. Supporters of particular sports teams, doll collectors, and political party members don’t necessarily indicate that an employer can carry out their position’s responsibilities.


The same social media checks that highlight an applicant’s professional skills can uncover potential problems. For example, if an applicant has been photographed with drugs or alcohol, it could indicate they’re prone to substance abuse. Similarly, an employee who posts racist or sexist messages could damage your company’s reputation.

A person’s real-life personality comes through in their online behavior. For example, they may not seem professional if they frequently post about being drunk or raging against others. A social media check also provides a more complete picture of an applicant than an interview can.

Running a social media check can be tricky, as you want to respect all candidate’s privacy rights. You must be careful to avoid obtaining data protected under the law (for example, gender, race, disabilities, etc). HR experts suggest hiring companies or third parties to perform social media checks. By doing this, you can be sure the search was legitimate under the law. Also, it’s a good idea to limit the research to LinkedIn and other social media accounts that are considered professional and not personal.


A social media check can help you find red flags, such as evidence of alcohol or drug abuse, that might be problematic for the safety and security of your employees. Likewise, it can reveal insensitive or offensive posts that may indicate a candidate’s lack of cultural awareness or sensitivity toward minorities or women.

According to a recent survey, over 75% of employers agree that looking into a candidate’s social media accounts is a legitimate hiring technique. Employers must avoid discriminating against job applicants by using such searches.

Ensure that all searches are conducted in compliance with privacy laws. It’s also wise to limit the type of information retrieved, such as only reviewing publicly available data on platforms. Never request passwords or access to private accounts; always have an outside party conduct the search instead of a current employee. Employers that fail to protect themselves from discrimination and harassment claims can face costly legal bills. Some of these costs are immediate, and others may take months or years to resolve.


Social media checks can be used to identify misconduct by candidates and employees, but they must be conducted carefully. Almost every applicant has a social media footprint – on public platforms, and their accounts can reveal much about them. However, if an employer searches an applicant’s private accounts and stumbles across protected characteristics such as race, age, gender, or religion, they could risk getting sued for discrimination.

A social media check thoroughly examines an individual’s social media accounts, looking for negative behaviors such as bullying, racism, or extremist religious or political views. It may also expose a candidate’s online activity that could cause damage to a company’s reputation, such as posting offensive images or language.

Rather than having someone on staff conduct a social media search, organizations should outsource the process to a specialist provider that uses screening and online behavior evaluation tools in conjunction with artificial intelligence. It will deliver results in a comprehensive report, enabling an organization to make a more informed decision about a new hire.

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Illegal Activity

Employers use social media more and more for hiring and background checks. However, balancing businesses’ need to hire trustworthy employees and the desire for privacy may be challenging.

It is acceptable for employers to run social media background checks as long as they don’t request passwords or access to individual accounts. Using a third-party company to run searches can help avoid this pitfall and ensure compliance with federal regulations. The company should also clearly define what types of information can be considered during a social media background check and not consider protected data such as race, gender, disability status, religion, age, and genetic information.

When hiring, it is essential to consider how a potential employee’s personal views might impact the workplace culture and productivity. While a person’s work behavior may be completely different in the office than on social media, some content could be incompatible with the company’s values. For example, if an applicant posts offensive or discriminatory comments, they can cause disruptions within the workforce.