Employment Background Checks on Facebook

Nick Fishman

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The folks at Talent Management Magazine just published a position paper we wrote on the use of social networking sites to conduct employment background checks, entitled “Life is Not an Open (Face)book“.  I’ve posted an excerpt below.

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.

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Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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