Social networks are public spaces, yet many people feel they are among friends. We’ve all seen those in our social circles’ indiscretions – photos of wild parties, drug use, alcohol consumption – these are not in fact, private, but very public and accessible.
Employers have begun engaging in more than just the cursory criminal background check. They now delve into the applicant’s online history, and not just a Google search.
Companies are emerging to run social background checks, and they investigate all traces of the prospect’s online life – Facebook, Twitter, comments on blogs of all sizes, Yahoo user groups, e-commerce sites, Craigslist and photo and video sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr.
These searches can reveal the best and worst about potential employees. A search on an accomplished professional would reveal their extensive professional network, their personal blog, etc.
However, more and more employers want to see those youthful indiscretions. Only about 5-10% of social network checks are flagged as adverse, most of those tending to be young, white-collar employees.
They are flagged for information discovered such as racially insensitive remarks, sexually explicit material, flagrant display of weaponry or other illegal activity.
These companies protect employers from lawsuits by not providing the information directly to them but reporting the type of offense. The applicant’s rights are not abused – the employer does not know the person’s religion, race or marital status for example.