In today’s world, everyone is using social media and you probably know more people that have at least one type of social media account than have none at all. But as a business owner, how likely is it that you are you going to use this information to hire your next employee. The tide is turning, and now more than ever, employers are requesting more than the traditional background check and are investigating their candidate’s conduct online.
The first question a business owner may ask is if there are any liability issues for conducting a social media background check on your next employee. The federal government has passed the buck to the states in this regard. Currently in South Carolina, there is no legislation that regulates the use of social media content as long as it meets the federal guidelines, employment laws and regulations. Therefore, as with any background check, precautions must be taken.
These precautions include following the guidelines set forth in the Department of Justice’s Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. If the terms of service of a particular website, for example Facebook, are violated in the public space, then the violation can be considered a federal offense.
If an applicant is careless enough to post a public picture of themselves smoking a bong or leaving derogatory comments it’s hard to vision them being your next sales superstar. This said, you may not request login information from your applicant to access their personal and private information in order to discover what material they have shared in confidence within their tight circle of friends.
You should also strive for uniformity and impartiality. Using a third party to conduct social media background checks will give your company a uniform format to follow. It’s a good idea not to have a direct manager conduct the social media background check. A direct manager may not find anything in violation to the Terms of Service of the social media site, but may be biased by other material.
Another guideline to follow is making the applicant aware that a social media background check will be conducted. Having the applicant sign an acknowledgement form, just like with any other background check you may conduct, is advisable. It is best to do this after the initial interview.
As a final point, be ready to document any reason you decide not to hire your applicant based on their social media background check. Make sure the information used in making your final decision is public knowledge.
Just remember, your next sale superstar is checking you out on social media too!