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Start Hiring Smarter with Social Media Background Screening

Updated: May 19, 2019

More employers today than ever are using social media background screening to vet their candidates before they make an offer. This article explores what employers are finding and things you should consider when using social media background screening in your company.



You get inundated with resumes on every job posting daily. You winnow your list down to maybe the top 5 candidates based on their past experience. You setup phone interviews and then invite the top 3 in for face-to-face meetings. After this lengthy process, what do you really know about the candidates?


More employers today are trying to answer that key question before pulling the trigger. A bad hire can be costly. Researchers at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University performed a deep dive into this very question and what they found is that a toxic hire can cost employers -- in direct costs alone over $12,800 on average. When factoring in indirect costs and depending upon the position, this number can exceed $100,000 in costs to the organization.


More employers today are turning to their candidate’s public persona via online searches of their social media profiles.

According to a 2018 study by CareerBuilder, the percentage of employers scanning social media profiles of their candidates exceeds 70%.

A survey by CareerBuilder showed that while 70% of all employers use social media to screen their candidates, the more astonishing number is, of those employers, more than 50% said they found something that made the employer not hire the candidate. Other studies on this topic put this percentage closer to 69%.


Here’s a look at what these employers found that caused them to NOT hire a particular candidate:


  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39 percent

  • Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs: 38 percent

  • Candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender or religion: 32 percent

  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee: 30 percent

  • Candidate lied about qualifications: 27 percent

  • Candidate had poor communication skills: 27 percent

  • Candidate was linked to criminal behavior: 26 percent

  • Candidate shared confidential information from previous employers: 23 percent

  • Candidate's screen name was unprofessional: 22 percent

  • Candidate lied about an absence: 17 percent

  • Candidate posted too frequently: 17 percent

If you are among the majority of employers that scan social media prior to making an offer to a candidate, then you aren’t alone. According to the same CareerBuilder survey, 3 in 10 employers have a full-time social recruiter on staff for the sole purpose of performing this task.


If you are currently scanning your candidate’s social media or considering implementing this as part of your hiring process then you need to think about the following questions:


1. Is my process consistent across all of my candidates?

2. Is my process objective or is my personal bias creeping into my decision making?

3. Am I looking at enough of the candidate’s history to make a sound judgement?

4. Am I following EEOC guidelines about protected class information?

5. Am I catching issues in time before you make the offer?


The bottom line? Social media background screening is the best way to get to KNOW YOUR CANDIDATES before you hire but you need to Implement a sound and repeatable process for social media screening that is unbiased and efficient.


#socialmediabackgroundscreening #recruiting