Whether you call it background checks or pre-employment checks, screening potential employees is part and parcel in the recruitment process. This is to ensure that the candidate interviewed matches the actual person and to mitigate any possible risk.

The ID verification, criminal record and academic qualification checks are checks we’re familiar with and perform before the candidate receives their employment contract. What about the social media check? Are you familiar with it? If 70% of recruiters are going on social media platforms to fish for candidates- isn’t it worthwhile to know how the person uses those platforms?

 (source for the stat

When we meet someone new or remember an old school mate and wonder what they’re doing with themselves lately, we go on social media and search for their name. The social media check is no different from this.

Some may argue it’s a means to catch people out and highlight negative aspects. No, that’s not it (well at least ours isn’t) it’s to get to know the candidate better. To establish if they’d be a great culture fit or to be able to make their first day at work great by adding a personal touch (a cat meme) to their welcome pack.

Social Media Background Check and Social Media Recruiting Not The Same Thing 

You may assume the two are necessarily the same thing, but they’re not. Knowing the difference between the two will help you understand the importance of both and how to use them efficiently.

Social media recruiting is using mostly LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to search for and attract candidates. This is to find candidates that may not be on job portals or who aren’t actively seeking a new opportunity.

As the world becomes more digital and AI helping to source candidates, recruiting on social media is becoming more and more popular. Paid advertising on social media platforms to reach a pool of potential candidates and organisations posting more of personal photos to give a glimpse of who they are to entice candidates are some of the methods that are used.

The social media background check, on the other hand, takes a look at the persons tweets, Facebook, and Instagram posts and LinkedIn profile to get a better understanding of who the person is and whether or not their behaviour online is not harmful towards any group. The social media background check helps recruiters make informed decisions and helps the individual by highlighting aspects that are unique to them.

Can A Social Media Profile Eliminate A Candidate 

A lot of background screening and private investigator organisations include the social media check to their offerings which is posing the question can I be rejected for a job based on my social media profiles?

Before we answer that question, it’s important to note that in the recruitment aspect the social media check is done as part of the pre-employment screening. Now to answer the question which has layers, it’s illegal not to hire someone based on the following discriminations, race, physical features, religion or gender.

“Social media and social networking has grown exponentially since 2002, allowing greater access to information, connecting people on a global scale in ways we have never seen before. We are able to connect and communicate with people across borders with no restrictions. This has led to people having their lives documented in fine detail, online, for all to see. We no longer keep journals or diaries, we no longer have photo albums, all of this is available at our fingertips, through our smartphones and computers.” Farosian 

The social media profiles of the person will reveal more than they will during an interview or in the first couple of months of working for you, and that’s why this check is helpful. You’ll be able to to pick up if the person has shared racist, homophobic or violent views.

To answer the question with many layers again, yes you may not get hired based on posts and discriminatory comments on race, sex, religion and being linked to any criminal activity. There is a concern that some organisation may not hire you once they found information such as political affiliations and age.

The onus is on the organisation to practise caution and not take the findings of the report to discriminate towards a person but to mitigate risk.

Here are some reasons some organisations haven’t hired someone due to what they’ve found on their profiles

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39%
  • Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs: 38%
  • Candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32%
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee: 30%
  • Candidate lied about qualifications: 27%

from PR Newswire  

Concerns Around The Social Media Check 

It’s inevitable to have some concerns when it comes to this check the main concern is discrimination and personal privacy being violated on some level.

Then there’s the issue of there are so many people with the same name and surname and how sure are you that the profile selected is the candidate? This shouldn’t be an issue because just like any background check consent is sent to the person and they’ll also be required to send through the links to their profiles.

What if the information on the profile is outdated and the person no longer share those views? The most important thing about the check is that it is objective and gives a holistic perspective. It won’t focus on a specific time frame and will take a look from the beginning till current.

Also, the personal or sensitive information shared on there that you wouldn’t want someone you work with to know or anyone other than your social media followers to know is it safe? Yes, it should be-companies/recruiters need to respect and protect peoples personal information just like they do with any of their other data.

The Simple Way To Conduct A Social Media Check 

For whatever reason, you may want to perform the social media check for pre-employment screening or perform it personally to see what comes up under your profile/ name.

What’s important to highlight is that this check must be treated in the same regard as all the other checks, it may not be a criminal or fraud check but it’s just as vital.


Send consent to the person you’d like to perform the check on – it’s a legal requirement. Other than it being a legal regulation, it also highlights transparency, to show that background screening isn’t a secret mission but an action that is inherently beneficial for both parties. 

Use A Legitimate Screening Company

There are many background screening companies and social media screening & training organisations that offer this check. Choosing a reliable company means your working with a trusted company, they know how to handle sensitive data objectively. 

There are some concerns around the social media check but if the check is used for the purpose to make informed hiring decisions and not to discriminate then it is used correctly.

Ask your screening company which third party social media screening organisation do they use and how they go about measuring the risk factor to put your mind further at ease.

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