Keep It Clean: Social Media Screenings Gain in Popularity

Monday, July 31, 2023

Your personal social media profiles can potentially seriously affect your professional life.

“Because we tend to view our personal social media accounts as being ‘personal,’ there’s a good chance that by viewing someone’s profile, you’ll get a glimpse into their personality beyond the resume,” said DeeAnn Sims-Knight, founder of Dark Horse PR.

What is a social media screening?

A social media screening is usually done prior to employment, when a candidate is applying for a job. It involves researching a prospect’s social media profiles and their activity, including what they post, like and comment on. Some of the platforms they are likely to check are LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and WhatsApp.

In a survey conducted by The Harris Poll, 70 percent of the employers who responded said they believe every company should screen candidates’ social media profiles during the hiring process. Moreover, 78 percent of employers believe that current employees should maintain a work-appropriate social media profile.

And it’s not just job candidates who are at-risk if they post certain content on social media; it’s also current employees. In a survey conducted by Express Employment Professionals, an overwhelming majority of employers said they would fire existing employees for posting certain social media content. 

So, what are hiring managers and employers looking for when screening candidates’ and employees’ social media profiles? Generally, they’re looking for red flags that include the sharing of illegal activities, offensive comments, violent or aggressive behavior, sexually explicit material, and confidential information.

Which social media channels can employers check?

Audit your social media accounts before applying for a position. While it’s important to check every account, there are some platforms hiring managers are more likely to check, such as LinkedIn.

“The three main platforms that most employers check are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter,” said Matt Erhard, managing partner of Summit Search Group. “I am personally most interested in the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, as it’s the most relevant.”

Most employers view LinkedIn as a secondary resume, and some even post jobs on LinkedIn. However, they are still likely to check other social media channels, such as Instagram. In addition to what you’re posting, make sure you are cognizant of who you follow and how they are interacting with your content.

“When I check a candidate’s Facebook or Twitter, my aim is more to get a sense of them as a person than to look for damaging information,” Erhard said.

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