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No one is quite sure what to do with social media profiles when it comes to pre-employment background checks. With all of that said though, you never know when a prospective employer is going to take a glance at your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, either before or after meeting with you for an interview.
Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. With regards to the last couple of questions, employers received some clarification via the National Labor Review Board’s (NLRB) recent decisions on social media policies in the workplace. Unfortunately for talent management professionals, there has yet to be any such federal guidance on social media for a critical HR function like hiring. That said, a majority of employers do actively use social media as part of their recruiting function. The practice is even more entrenched at larger employers (500+ employees), with 73% utilizing social media sites for talent acquisition. When it comes to social media background screening, however, employers tend to be much more cautious. Far and away, Facebook is the most popular site for employers using social media for background screening, with 83% incorporating it into their employment screening process. Given these concerns, HireRight asked the employers who were using social media as part of their background screening effort if they have a company policy to govern the process. Without any guidelines governing how social media background screening is conducted, what information can be used in the hiring decision, and how to verify information, organizations risk exposing themselves to a variety of potential liabilities and may be inappropriately limiting their candidate pool based on subjective criteria.

As reported in the 2013 Hiring Trends and Practice Survey, roughly 8% of HR specialists are using social media to pre-interview a candidate. According to the survey, employers are using social media for both exempt and non-exempt employees, at between 13%-11% when it comes to recruiting, respectfully. According to a recent article from ERC partner Corporate Screening, "There are still many gray areas about using social media in hiring.
However, if you are conducting a background check on your own, here are some of the potential benefits and risks HR professionals run in to when using social media to check on potential employees. Also, information shared on social media is not always true and certainly is not verified information. For this reason, if you are planning a 2014 job hunt, take care to clean up your social media profiles just in case. Consider your other social media profiles: Since Facebook is the most popular and expansive social media outlet on the web, it should get the majority of the attention when you are doing an online clean up. As adoption rates of social media continue to cross generational boundaries and new sites emerge, employers are struggling to remain ahead of the curve and better define how their organizations use social media.
Therefore, employers are still not entirely certain about social media’s role in the process. In HireRight’s 2013 Employment Screening Benchmarking Report, 54% of respondents indicated that they use social media for recruiting, with another 7% planning to do so.
The data indicate a slight growth from 2012, when 50% of respondents indicated they use social media for recruiting.

Only 14% of respondents to the survey reported that they use social media for background screening purposes, with 7% planning to do so. Another 8% are also using social media for the post-offer and post-interview of a potential candidate. Some research indicates that job seekers hold a negative view of employers who check Facebook when hiring, and could potentially put off top job prospects. On the other hand, social media profiles can reveal discriminatory information to an employer that can hinder their ability to judge an applicant in a fair and unbiased manner. From restricting the access non-friends have to your profile to controlling what different people can see, Facebook privacy settings are a must for a professional who wishes to be social online. The numbers indicate a marginally declining year-over-year trend, since in 2012, 15% of employers were using social media for background screening and 9% were planning to do so.
You can even enact settings that let you review tags or comments before they are posted to your profile, so that you can filter out inappropriate content and unflattering photos before they are displayed proudly for all to see.
Going forward, try to conduct yourself on social media as you would in a real-life professional or semi-professional setting. By taking these actions and others, you can make your online presence as squeaky clean as possible and reposition your social media profiles as tools that can help you land a job rather than liabilities that kill your chances.

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