Since 2006, the companies who used social media background screening companies to make sure they don’t hire a bad egg has dramatically increased by 500%. The increasing rate of workplace issues is just getting out of control.

Because of this, companies are following through without thinking about it too much. They jumping into the hype without thinking about the consequences it might bring.

In this article, we listed three important things that you should know about hiring a social media investigator.

Social media reports can increase you hiring discrimination

When you are in a hiring process with an applicant, there are legally accepted questions that you can asked, while there are some information about the applicant that are considered as protected class information.

This means that you cannot legally ask them straight up. These questions are those that are about their age, race, ethnicity, and gender. Once you look at their social media accounts, from one photo alone, you will be able to determine the above statistics about the applicant. You can even determine just from one look if they are disabled or pregnant.

When you decide not to hire them and you have a record of social media background check history on them, it will be hard to prove that what you saw did not influence your decision.

Social media reports are in EEOC’s radar

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has their ears and eyes open for possible discrimination and violations from companies that choose to base their hiring process from social media reports of employment background screening companies.

An example of a common offense that they are always looking out for is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Companies tend to hire younger people, taking away the opportunity from the older people who are also looking for work.

Just one look at a certain social media account of one applicant can determine his or her age. When it comes down to complaints, you won’t be able to prove that you weren’t influenced by age. If you decide not to hire somebody, you must prepare a valid reason why you arrived with that decision.

There are seriously a lot of ways to fail a social media and web investigation, but the fact is, no matter what your reason is, you should be able to prove that you have other reasons than their social media.

Social media reports are limited in some states

In 2012, a majority of states passed a type of legislation, or even just considered passing it. The legislation limits every employers’ rights to meddle with their applicants or employees’ social media accounts.

This means that some companies cannot in any circumstances acquired the passwords of their employees even if they logged in at work. This also means that companies are not allowed to base their hiring decisions on social media scores alone.

With the government full monitoring companies, what you can do is make sure you are on the right side of the law in case some mishaps happen. Make sure you also ask your HR some questions before you proceed, and then assure that you follow the following.

1. Only let professionals do the monitoring.

When you do the investigation yourself, you may be endangering yourself to a lawsuit. You may be invading the privacy of your potential hire without meaning to. It is best to leave the online investigation to the experts.

2. Make sure the applicant already had several interviews and is on the end part of the hiring process.

Don’t screen an applicant who only had one interview. Make sure they are near the hiring process already. Once you screen an applicant, make sure you screen all the applicant for the position, all in the same stages in their hiring process to retain your consistency.

3. Only focus on “public” information.

Posts that aren’t made public by your applicant cannot be included in any report that will be given to you. There are protected class information that even the social media screening companies cannot dwell into.

4. Develop guidelines or policies that you can give to you social media expert

As a company, you should have a solid guideline about what you look for in social media reports. Make sure these are understood by the screening company that you will hire. Also make sure that you are consistent with it regarding all your applicants. This will serve as proof, in case it comes into lawsuits and complaints.

5. Document everything you can.

Anything that your applicant does while still employed by your company should be recorded. Make these records accessible in case the applicant gets fired for misdemeanor and decided to turn the tables and blame you for discrimination or invasion of privacy.

Above all these, you should understand that you are not doing something illegal when you hire someone to have a digital footprint investigation on your potential hire. There are just some common misconception that can easily be addressed by reading and understanding. Doing these simple preparations can ensure that you get to protect your brand and your company. In addition to that, you will be able to provide a safe working environment to your current employees.

Contact your chosen social media screening company now and establish a guideline with them, ask them questions and make sure you understand their terms.

Author's Bio: 

Bianca Lager is the President of Social Intelligence, the leading provider of social media background investigation in the market.