The risks of checking out candidates on social networks

Employers often use social media to perform background checks on current or prospective employees. However, legal experts stress that these background checks could violate employment and privacy laws.

Many employers use sites like Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook to check on employees. Performing an Internet search on a potential or current employee is similar to an interview; however, this interview poses some risks.

For instance, you may find out too much personal information about the candidate. Maybe you’ll discover a candidate’s religious beliefs or her medical conditions — and it could be possible for a rejected candidate to argue they were turned down because of that information.

Employers need to keep these things in mind:

  1. Don’t base your hiring or firing decisions on what you discover about a candidate online. By doing so, you risk mistaking that candidate’s identity.
  2. If you do decide to use social media to research potential candidates, obtain that candidate’s permission first. Also, give those potential candidates an opportunity to explain anything suggestive found on the web.
  3. Exercise caution when using social media to terminate current employees. By setting clear guidelines for how and when employees are permitted to use social media, there will be fewer problems.

For more information on social media background checks click here.

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