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How to conduct fair, compliant Social Media Checks

Updated: Mar 27

Increasing regulations along with a growing demand for companies to be more socially responsible has accelerated the growth in the Social Media Background Check UK market.

Almost everyone has a social media presence these days. Social media apps and sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr have become an extension of our daily lives and can serve as a way for employers to find out more about the candidate they are hiring by conducting Social Media Checks.

The rise in Social Media Checks means employers and hiring managers can now gain valuable insights into a candidate’s suitability for the organisation and role by scanning through the digital footprint of the candidate’s social media accounts to uncover beliefs, attitudes and behaviours which might be at odds with the values of the organisation. Performed correctly, a Social Media Check will reduce the risk of brand or reputational damage as well as ensuring the candidate is a good fit culturally for the organisation.

VettingGateway’s Social Media Checks will fairly and compliantly assess your applicants’ social media histories and provide a comprehensive but easy-to-read report, highlighting any content found linked with violence, extremism, hate speech, profanity, nudity and negative sentiment.

Certain industries like education, finance, healthcare, government and any companies in the public eye are well advised to conduct social media checks before recruiting new employees to their workforce. But how can hiring managers conduct these checks fairly, ensuring that they remain compliant throughout the process?

Whilst every organisation will have different standards and policies relating to recruiting and compliance, we have listed five tips when considering to use Social Media Checks as part of the recruiting process:

  1. Ensure consent is obtained before checks are conducted A professional Social Media Check must include a way of gaining consent from candidates before their accounts can be accessed. This step is crucial for compliance and an oversight or breach could lead to legal action further down the line, even if the candidate has provided access.

  2. Ensure consistent standards for all new hires A professional Social Media Check will provide a report at the end of the scan, highlighting any findings that the employer should review. It is important to have a way of ensuring consistent standards are applied for all new hires to be evaluated. If discrepancies are later discovered, they could be perceived as discrimination and legal action could ensue. For this reason it is not recommended to conduct manual Social Media Checks as the risk of human bias is too great.

  3. Be transparent in what will be reviewed The background checking phase can be a stressful process for candidates and building in transparency is recommended for improving the Candidate Experience when conducting checks. For Social Media Checks in particular, it is vital that candidates know what will be checked so they understand exactly what they are consenting to.

  4. Minimise human intervention Employers need to make sure human bias is removed from all forms of background checks. Done correctly, a Social Media Check should be automated so that the need for human intervention is minimised. A digital scan resulting in a report is best advised for any organisation wanting to conduct Social Media Checks so the need for a manual review is eliminated.

  5. Ensure compliance with data and privacy laws Employers must ensure that data extracted about a candidate from a Social Media Check complies with the data and privacy laws governing the region in which the employment contract has been agreed. Using VettingGateway to conduct Social Media Checks means this headache is minimised as data and privacy compliance is already built in to the solution.

Professional vs Manual Social Media Checks

As Social Media Checks rise in popularity, employers are advised to avoid the temptation to to manually check the social media accounts of their candidates. The risks of compliance breaches and human bias are, quite simply, too great. Here are just some of the problems associated with manual Social Media Checks:

  • Breaches in data and privacy laws

  • Inaccurate information – it’s easier than you might think to check the wrong person

  • Human bias and error

  • Cumbersome and time-consuming – it is virtually impossible to scan and collect social media data as comprehensively as a purpose-built algorithm

  • Candidate Experience – a candidate is likely to have a much more favourable view of an employer if they trust that their social media will not be accessed by a human. The impartial nature of using software to conduct a Social Media Check means that employers won’t lose the trust of their new hires during the background checking process.

If you are considering adding Social Media Checks to your pre-employment vetting process, VettingGateway offers an easy way to carry out these checks. The process is fully compliant, automated, comprehensive and objective. At the end of the check, you will receive the results back in the form of a PDF report which will alert you to any issues or risks uncovered. By obtaining consent and providing transparency to the candidate, you will also be able to maintain trust and ensure best practice with regards to Candidate Experience is achieved.

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