Social Media Employment Screening


social_mediaDid you know that many companies today are using social media to check out their employees before and during employment?

In today’s world this may seem like either an invasion of privacy or a brilliant move, depending on your view of social media. The truth is, if you manage your social media properly, there should never be a reason for an employer to reject, discipline or fire you visible in any social media. With the privacy controls available today, any individual can manipulate who may see each post they make, whether it is a status update, a picture or something tweeted in a moment of serious judgment lapse. You can even go back in time on your posts and erase an entire evening of poor posts if you so choose.

Why, then, to employers bother to look at these sites? The answer is simple: If you do not care enough to censor what the public can see of your posts, you may not be a good fit for their company. Laziness and the lack of desire to keep the public view of your social media “cleaned up” of the kinds of posts that could be offensive to their customers is as good a reason as any to decline an application for employment.

At least from the employer’s point of view. However, the laws on this type of screening are not as clear. This is where those who advocate the privacy of social media step in and have their say. For many, the whole idea of social media is that it is the one place they can be themselves, totally and completely, without judgment or offense. The person they are in office differs from the image they portray on their social media – and they like it that way. For these individuals, an employer surfing their social media just seems wrong. It is an invasion of personal space that should not be allowed.

As you can see, the issue is complicated. To be safe, many employers will discuss the issue with a lawyer familiar with the legislation related to social media and hiring decisions. However, there is much that is still unclear about this practice.

We want to ask you, our readers, what you think of this practice. Is it a taboo that should never have begun, or a smart business move that can help employers weed out the duds in their applicants?

Comment below and we could use your feedback in our next blog!

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Thompson, B. Kevin. “Sorting Out Social Media for HR.” Units Apr. 2013: 42-44. Print.

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