Guidelines for Employer Social Media Site Checks

social networking
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With everyone's social information showing up just about everywhere online, it's important to be aware of what you should, and shouldn't, do when it comes to social networking

Keep Your Personal Info Private

More job seekers are diversifying their presence on social media and are separating personal from professional activity.  Candidates have become savvier about applying privacy controls to their personally oriented social networking accounts.

Younger candidates, in particular, are spending more time on sites like Twitter and Instagram and less time on Facebook.  

Make Your Professional Info Public

Given these trends, it makes more sense for employers to focus on professionally oriented sites with their social media checks. Candidates should still monitor their presence on personally oriented sites and restrict access to non-friends. However, you should make an extra effort to build a strong professional presence on LinkedIn and/or a personal website.  Employers will often find it more fruitful to examine the LinkedIn profile for candidates and review information like recommendations, endorsements, and portfolio samples.

What Companies Check

It is important to be aware of the rules companies should be following when it comes to checking out job applicants on social networking sites. Even though not all companies have policies on what and how they check, many do.

From the employer perspective, it's important to have guidelines in place when conducting social networking research. That way there is a standard protocol that applies to all candidates, and there are no potential discrimination issues.

Tips for Conducting a Social Networking Check

Here's what companies ought to know, and what job applicants should be aware of, about conducting employer social networking checks for candidates for employment from Jay Zweig, Partner, Bryan Cave LLP.

  • Be consistent. Use social networking research to screen all job applicants for all positions or do not use it at all.
  • Tell applicants in advance that you will be looking online and at social media sites as part of the application process.
  • Designate someone who is not the ultimate decision maker as the social media researcher to help ensure the decision maker does not know about legally protected information.
  • Decide what information about applicants it is that you are looking for online and provide your social media researcher with specific instruction on reporting back this information only.
  • Do not access any applicants' social media profile or web page through dishonest or deceptive means.
  •  Consider the accuracy and validity of the information before making a decision.

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