Social Media Screening – Right or Wrong?

There are a couple of ways you can interpret the title of this piece.

Is screening someone via social media right or wrong?

Is there a right way and a wrong way to use social media to screen someone?

The answers are “kinda” and “absolutely.”

Here’s the deal. We know employers screen candidates and employees through their online presence. If you have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vimeo or whatever account, chances are your boss is looking or has looked at your stuff. Proof? Check out this cool infographic about social media screening courtesy of Here’s some of the stats we pulled from it:

  • Two in five employers use social media to screen candidates
  • 43% of employers say they’ve found info online that helped them decide not to hire a particular candidate.
  • One in five hiring managers say they found reasons to hire someone from their social media profiles

So, it’s happening and it’s happening in a big way. What can go wrong? A LOT, regardless if you’re a candidate or an employer. Here’s what you need to take into consideration before you jump on or into the social media backgrounding bandwagon.


  1. For goodness sake, if you haven’t already done so, clean up your online profiles. Remove profanity. Wipe away pics of you with a beer, a joint, doing the walk of shame, or texting while driving. Eliminate nasty political rants. Basically, your social media profiles should represent your best self. Think of it as being on a first date. Do you really want this attractive person sitting across from you to know that you hate puppies and are a certified beer pong champion? Maybe that’s second… or third… or fourth date material. If you need more assistance than what you can manage on your own (which begs the question, ‘Dear God, What Have You Been Doing?,’ sign up for an online media monitoring service like this one from Reppler. Trust us. You’ll be glad you did.
  2. Broaden your professional scope by joining LinkedIn (if you haven’t already done so) and engaging in some networking groups on the professional site. For example, if you’re new to say, Naples, Florida (as I am) you’d want to look for some networking organizations in Southwest Florida like this. If you’re new to LinkedIn, it’s great. You can post your resume, keep a current profile of your work history, engage with other members, and list your interests and special areas of expertise, like fluency in another language, perhaps. LinkedIn is a vital tool toward joining, reentering, or advancing in the work space.
  3. Be honest. If you lie, someone will find out. Social media profiles are easy to cross reference and if that information doesn’t jibe with what you’ve put on a resume or said in an interview, it will come back to bite you. In a study conducted by Reppler, 69% of employers said they rejected a candidate because of something they didn’t like on a social media profile. Of those, 13% admitted it was because a candidate lied about their qualifications. Just don’t do it.


  1. Know the rules. Skimming social media sites can count against you if you improperly use the info to eliminate a candidate. This is a real problem as we point out in this Active Care post: EEOC Zeroing in on Social – 5 Ways to Avoid Trouble. Employers are not allowed to consider certain information like race, gender, religion, or other protected classes when hiring. But this stuff – and lots of other info that can, but shouldn’t, play into earning a job – is almost always readily available through social media. We’re talking things like pregnancy, age, marital status, sexual orientation. By law, these things can’t be considered in an employment decision if found on social media. If you’re doing it, you’re walking a fine line.
  2. Figure out where social media fits into your screening process and make sure you have a uniform policy about it that everyone, including hiring managers, recruiters and buzz marketers knows and follows. If you have questions about what a good social media policy sounds like, we have some resources for you to check out:

    7 Steps to Implement Social Media Background Screening
    Thinking About Screening Applicants on Social Media? Read This First!
    Social Recruiting: Are You Doing It Right?

  3. Manage your social media presence. As much as applicants have to watch what they’re posting on Facebook and the like, you do too. Some reports show up to 29% of job seekers use the internet, and specifically social media, as their primary tool toward locating openings. Social media is a great place to further establish your workplace culture and engage with people in a direct, and often less salesy, way. That’s why we love our Active Care Blog. You get to know us and what we do in a fun, informative, two-way street. You need to be thoughtful that your social media presence matches what you’re all about. For example, The Honest Company does a great job of promoting its “healthy and sustainable future for our children” mission on all of its social profiles. Check ‘em out!

We’d love to hear some of your tips. Don’t be shy… we don’t bite!


This entry was posted in Background Screening, General and tagged , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
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