People often think that social media is pure harmless fun, but for many companies, it is a very useful resource to know more about their prospective employees. Around 90% of hiring managers look at a candidate’s online behavior and base their decisions on what they find. Social Screening has become a staple of recruiting, and social media behavior is now more scrutinized more than ever.

There was a study conducted by Reppler, a social media monitoring service, they found that 91% of employers checks their applicant’s social media accounts and that 69% was rejected based on their social media behavior and information acquired from these social media sites.

Some common online behavior of applicants that resulted to their rejection include:
● Lying about their qualification
● Posting negative comments about previous company
● Posting inappropriate pictures and comments
● Demonstrating poor communication skills
● Posting about drinking and drugs

While some applicants might be inclined to erase or decrease their social media presence, in the hope that employers will not find anything that will hurt their chances of getting the job, this strategy might backfire, since most hiring managers don’t want to interview applicants who doesn’t have any online presence.

Fairly so, hiring managers also look into a candidate’s social media behavior and find a lot of information that often influence them to hire a certain applicant. Some of these positive online behaviors are:

● The candidate’s website reflects a professional image.
● The background information of the candidate matches the qualifications of the job.
● The candidate has good communication skills.
● The company culture fits the candidate’s personality.
● The candidate shows a wide range of flexibility and interests.

To help employers maximize the benefits of social screening and minimize the risks involved, here are some guidelines to follow when using social media reports in the hiring process:

1. Be aware of the laws that apply. For instance, if you are employing the help of a third party in social media screening, you have know that you are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, or any similar state laws.
2. Never Ask for Passwords. In all 50 states, employers are prohibited to ask for an applicant’s password and should only look at public content.
3. Be Consistent. Don’t focus your search on one social media profile, there are so many public social media sites that give pertinent information about the candidate.
4. Consider the Source. Focus on the applicant’s own posts, and not on what others say about her or him.
5. Decisions should be Documented. Be sure to print out the content on which you based your decision. This will serve as protection in case the decision is challenged by the applicant.

In hiring our future employees, valuable information can be acquired basing on their social media behavior, and many argue that it is unethical to do so. But as long as the information is directly job related, consent is obtained, and information is public, Social Media screening is here to stay.

Author's Bio: 

Bianca Lager is the current President of Social Intelligence.