2/8/2010 Life is Not an Open (Face)book (Talent Management Magazine)


Published in Talent Management Magazine, February 2010

Social networks and other online media offer a seemingly easy way to weed out poor candidates. But when brand image, legal liability and top talent are at stake, there is no substitute for solid employee screening practices.

It’s a hard reality every hiring manager these days knows well: More people are vying for fewer jobs. Applicants pad their resumes even during economic booms, so the temptation to embellish one’s experience, abilities and credentials — and downplay drug charges or other criminal history — is even greater now.

Background screening has never been more critical, but the methods used are particularly important in this digital age. Some screening methods could expose an organization to legal liability, lost business or brand damage.

Social Media: Screening Friend or Foe?

Back in the day, hiring managers checked applicant references, maybe even took the extra step to verify college degrees, and the rest was up to a background screening partner. But the advent of social media sites has opened the door to a whole new kind of applicant screening.

CareerBuilder publishes an annual study on social network use among recruiters. In 2008, 22 percent of hiring managers were looking on social media sites — including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs — as part of their research and screening efforts. In 2009, that number jumped to 45 percent. An additional 11 percent intended to start using social media sites for screening.

There are three challenges that arise from this trend.