January 25th, 2024 | Sterling

4 Reasons to Use Tech-Enabled Social Media Screening 

With nearly 60% of the world’s population engaging online, social media is fundamental to the way people interact in their everyday lives. It’s not surprising that hiring managers use online content to help them learn more about their candidates. After all, reviewing social media can give additional insight that employers can’t discover in interviews. 

According to a recent survey, nearly 75% of employers use search engines to research their job candidates. Of these employers, 85% uncovered online content that caused them not to hire a candidate, potentially saving their company from a negative hiring experience and the cost of a poor hire. 

However, while using social media checks might sound simple and safe, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) encourages employers to exercise caution when conducting social media reviews. While these searches have the potential to help employers avoid a bad hire, those using an informal in-house process for social media review can also create organisational liability. Consider these concerning stats from the above survey: 

  • 68% of surveyed employers admitted to using social media to find answers to illegal interview questions, increasing potential company risk. 
  • 55% of surveyed employers checked social media to see if a candidate is a good fit, increasing the possibility they reviewed protected class information that could lead to biased hiring decisions. 

Using informal social media reviews in the hiring process can create procedural inconsistencies and inaccuracies, biased hiring decisions, and a lack of supporting documentation. The bottom line? It matters how employers conduct social media reviews. Here are four ways your organisation can benefit from tech-enabled social media screening. 

Tech-Enabled Social Media Screening Helps Build Trust and Safety 

Leveraging tech-enabled social media screening can assist you in efficiently building a great company culture while also helping protect your business from the potential risk associated with informal checks. Here are four reasons to consider incorporating technology-assisted social media screening into your background screening program: 

1. Social media screening driven by advanced automation promotes greater process consistency. 

No matter how prescriptive your processes may be, people interact with technology differently. Variable key search terms, different browsers, and alternate sources viewed can all create variation in the flagged results. Regardless of intention, these differences can ultimately result in potentially biased results. Using advanced automation helps to create a repeatable process by leveraging consistent search terms and uniform sources, removing the possibility of human variability. Technology helps you build the standardised criteria required for a more objective hiring process. 

2. Using tech-enabled social media checks reduces potential for employee exposure to protected class information. 

When hiring managers or recruiters perform social media checks in-house, they can learn a lot of relevant details about their potential hire, including whether they’re a good culture fit or whether they’ve posted public content that could be perceived as a liability for the employer. But an in-house social media search can also expose hiring managers to protected information that shouldn’t be a part of any hiring decision — such as religion, national origin, or disability. Once the information has been viewed, it can’t be unseen; consciously or not, it may still become part of the hiring decision. Automated social media screening filters out protected class information, so these details are never viewed at all, rendering them unable to influence your team’s decisions. Instead, the search focuses on specific, pre-determined categories of work-relevant behaviour with the potential to negatively impact your employee experience and your business’s brand. 

3. Automated social media searches can provide more meaningful results. 

Unless you have employees in roles dedicated to conducting social media checks in-house, it’s likely that your informal social media checks are part of a busy work schedule. This makes them subject to competing work priorities that can influence the thoroughness of the manual review. As a result, while some reviews may be extensive, others may miss important information that might impact the decision to hire. Automated social media checks reliably scan tens of thousands of publicly available online media sources (up to seven years back) for content relevant to each of your potential employees. Content is automatically evaluated not only for negative or positive sentiment, but also for intensity, helping to create consistency around what is flagged and what is not flagged. 

Further, the process of validating that any flagged information is related to the candidate is one of the most critical steps of the entire check; you want to know if the information considered is related to your potential hire. Using tech-enabled social media searches means flagged content is carefully authenticated using multiple identifiers to increase matching accuracy, so you can be confident that what you review is actually connected to your candidate. 

4. Social media screening via automation generates simplified reports to support your hiring decisions. 

Careful documentation is very important for any background check. It provides the evidence and support necessary for the hiring decision in the unlikely event the decision is challenged. Even with the best written processes, in-house social media checks performed by different hiring managers can result in variable quality documentation. When your social media searches are performed using advanced automation backed by a screening company with deep market experience, your process consistency extends to the provided results. The details of the flagged work-relevant content, including images, are delivered on a simplified report for your careful consideration, relevant to the candidate’s job position and responsibilities. 

Social media screening conducted using advanced automation helps address the potential risks of in-house social media checks, enabling you to build a great culture more efficiently and effectively. 

Creating a Social Media Screening Policy 

Before you add social media checks to your screening program, first discuss your plans with your legal counsel and make sure a social media screening policy is in place to help guide your processes. 

SHRM recommends your social media screening policy should include: 

Who will perform the screening? 

Preferably, this should be someone knowledgeable about employment law in order to help your organisation avoid hiring discrimination lawsuits. 

When in the process will the screening be conducted? 

Generally, later in the hiring process is better for pre-employment screening to reduce possible exposure to risk. 

Which job positions will be screened? 

Developing an understanding of who should be screened in the organisation — and keeping this choice consistent — is key to avoiding potential discriminatory practice. 

How will the search be performed? 

A consistent process defining the scope of the search, including the sources that will be reviewed, is important. 

How will the results be documented, and who will receive them? 

Consistent search results documentation is important. It’s also essential to define who will review the results, and how those results will be interpreted. Only job-related content should be considered in a hiring decision. 

Social media screening helps provide important insights about your job candidates. While in-house social media screening has the potential to create added organisational risk, tech-enabled social media screening can assist you in hiring better-quality candidates while protecting your company. 

Sterling’s social media servicescan aid you in building a culture based on trust and safety. If you’d like to speak to a representative about tech-enabled social media services, contact us here

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.