For longtime HR professionals, ordering and reviewing criminal background and drug testing reports is second nature; however, screening methods have evolved with today’s changing workforce culture. Employers are now opting to add social media screening to their standard pre-employment processes to gain a better picture of their potential hire. Most HR professionals can rely on years of knowledge to when analyzing background and drug screening results – but what are the best practices for reading a social media report?
Have a Social Media Policy in Place Before Screening
Because social media is a popular place for personal expression, it’s important to have a company social media policy that employees can use as a guide for their digital behavior. “Social media policies give employees a good idea of what is and isn’t appropriate. They also serve as a reminder that all employees are ambassadors of the company, and what they say has impact,” says Nicole Kincaid, Director of Human Resources for ESS. Without a baseline, it can be difficult to determine if any items flagged in the Social Media Profiles report go against company policy.
Be Sure to Follow FCRA Guidelines
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) contains the governmental rules and regulations that stipulate what information can be used to make employment decisions. “A social media screen is considered a consumer report just like a criminal background check and FCRA guidelines apply. Items like Pre-Adverse and Adverse Action, Disclosure and Authorization, Permissible Purpose, Consumer Disputes and Reinvestigations, etc., must be followed,” explained Whitney Van Pelt, Business Development Manager for Social Intelligence, one of the industry’s leading social media Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA).
Employers should utilize CRAs for their pre- and continuous employment screening, as they are well versed in the policies therein. CRAs are professionals in navigating the compliance standards for employment screening and utilize their knowledge of state and federal laws to provide consumer reports lawfully; ensuring the standards of the FCRA are followed during a social media screen is paramount.
Report Hits Don’t Necessarily Equal “No Hire”
A Social media screening report include flagged social material that is actionable for hiring decisions, but that doesn’t mean that the employer must decide to deny employment. “While everything Social Intelligence flags is actionable, the ultimate hiring decision is entirely up to the employer. As a CRA, we are simply providing information on what’s out there in the public view while protecting the employer from non-relevant and protected class information,” said Van Pelt.
Flagged material includes items that match specific risk areas: Demonstrations of Racism and Intolerance, Sexually Explicit Material, Potentially Violent Behavior, and Potentially Unlawful Activity.
Ultimately, it is up the employer to decide if the flagged posts should result in unemployment, at which point they must follow the adverse action guidelines set by the FCRA.
Reading Social Media Profiles reports is not that different from background checks and drug test results. HR professionals can gain a complete picture of a candidate through social media screening but should first have clear corporate policies in place. It is best practice to understand that the material included, while actionable, does not necessarily mean having to pass on the perfect candidate.
Are you ready to add social media screening to your employment process? Call one of our experts today at 866.859.0143.