Background Checks Now Include Twitter, Facebook and more

More and more employers are checking the social media profiles and posts of potential hires.

Any post or group that could be taken out of context, or construed to make you out as “somebody who likes a racist joke, drinks too much booze or maybe is a bit too fond of guns” can be grounds for an employer to pull your application, according to this recent ABCNews article states. And it’s all legal.

“The Federal Trade Commission has just given the okay for Social Intelligence Corp. to sell these reports to employers and the file will last for seven long years,” the article states.

Even if your profiles are squeaky clean and you actively manage your public information, consider your friends. ” It’s still possible that among your Facebook friends, unbeknownst to you, there’s someone with a criminal record,” the article continues. “An employer could turn you down for having iffy friends and not run afoul of any employment discrimination law.”

Potential employers aren’t getting this information by friending or following you. Often they are outsourcing their research to companies like Social Intelligence Corp. or checking in with friends of your friends to see what you may have hidden. Remember, there is a huge difference between a photo album on your shelf at home and one online, even “protected.” Some employers are going so far as to require potential employees share their usernames and passwords. Whether or not you choose to share this information depends on the position, your personal opinions and how much you want to work for that employer. Before you log in, in front of your future HR Manager or boss, consider this, do you really want to work for someone who would ask you to do that?

While slightly outdated, this CareerBuilder article from earlier this year includes information on how many employers search social media profiles as part of a background check.

The only way to really protect yourself is to be mindful of what you post in the first place. Be sure to check your history for inaccuracies, strange settings, old comments. Ask yourself, out of context does anything seem strange? Make it a habit to check this once a month, when you Google yourself.

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Google Yourself

I can’t even tell you how often I’ve said this lately and not just at Career Days with college students. Adults who insist they don’t have an online identity are shocked when I Google their name and all kinds of things come up.

Even if you aren’t currently looking for a job, you need to be checking yourself out online at least monthly.

Don’t just stop at Google. Try Bing, Yahoo and anything else you can think of. Go beyond page two. See what’s out there. You can’t be proactive unless you know.

I tried comparing it to a credit report only to find that even fewer people get their credit reports as Google themselves. Which is just as bad! If you might get to use a company credit card or drive a company car, your employer is going to check your credit. If you don’t know what’s on the report how can you tell them your identity was stolen or the credit card was in your ex-wife’s name?

Aside from the main search engines, should I recommend checking your name in other places?