Featured Image - Are Digital Footprint Checks Right For Your Recruitment Strategy?

Are Digital Footprint Checks Right For Your Recruitment Strategy?

Date Published: January 27, 2023 | Last Updated: January 25, 2024 | By Khai Ngo

Conducting a thorough background check on potential employees is essential to any successful business’s hiring strategy. In today’s competitive and ever-evolving job market, hiring managers and HR professionals must be increasingly vigilant about evaluating and vetting the job applicants they are considering for hire. 

Background checks provide employers with valuable insight into a candidate’s past, allowing them to identify skills, work history, and qualifications that may be relevant to the position for which they are hiring. 

While most pre-employment screening policies include typical screening techniques such as criminal history checks and reference checks, it’s becoming increasingly popular for HR professionals and hiring managers to add digital footprint checks to the list.

Reviewing a candidate’s digital record can provide a glimpse into a candidate’s interests, values, and personal conduct. For example, if a candidate has made offensive or inappropriate comments online, this could raise red flags for a potential employer.

But are digital footprint checks suitable for your recruitment strategy? 

Let’s find out. 

What are Digital Footprint Checks?

A digital footprint check is essentially an online background check of an individual’s digital presence and activities on search engines like Google and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Tik Tok. 

It can uncover relevant information regarding a person’s past behaviours, lifestyle choices, and beliefs that may help HR professionals and business owners when hiring a new employee. By seeing what kind of online activity a candidate engages in, employers can determine whether or not their values, interests, and attitude are compatible with the company culture. 

For example, if a candidate has a favourable digital footprint and their online activities align with the company’s values and culture, this could indicate that they might be a good fit. On the other hand, if a candidate has made negative or offensive comments online or has engaged in activities contrary to the company’s values and culture, this indicates that they are not a good fit for the company.

It’s worth mentioning that if you’re looking for a job, you can also conduct a digital footprint check to see what might come up if potential employers search your name online. This way, you can clean up anything that might not work in your favour. 

If you’re looking to clean up your own digital footprint, the Australian Government has a Digital Health Agency that provides this handy resource tool to help you improve and manage your online presence from a desktop or mobile device. 

Why Carry Out a Digital Footprint?

Other than the grounds mentioned above, there are a few other reasons you should consider adding digital footprint checks to your background screening strategy. These include: 

  • Verifying the accuracy of the information provided on the job applicant’s resume and job application, such as their first and last name, contact details, and previous employment
  • Assessing the applicant’s online activities and professionalism
  • Identifying any potential red flags or warning signs about the applicant’s character and behaviour, such as certain posts exhibiting a unique pattern of antisocial behaviour
  • Ensuring the applicant’s online presence aligns with the company’s values and culture
  • Protecting the company’s reputation and avoid hiring individuals with a negative online presence
  • Identifying any potential conflicts of interest or legal issues associated with the applicant’s online activity
  • Assessing the applicant’s online skills and ability to use digital tools, websites and platforms effectively
  • Gain insight into the applicant’s interests, hobbies, and personal life outside work.

How to Conduct a Positive Digital Footprint Check

Conducting a digital footprint test involves two main parts: an open search check and a social media check. 

Carrying Out an Open Check on Search Engines

An open search check involves performing a Google search of the individual’s name to see what information returns. You could also do this search using other search engines such as Bing or Yahoo. 

The information that may come up includes news articles, blog posts, professional profiles, and more. 

You can review digital footprints by including the following terms in your search: 

  • Full name of the candidate
  • Aliases or variations of the name
  • Current and past addresses
  • Current and past employers
  • Professional associations and memberships
  • Educational institutions attended
  • Legal proceedings


Performing a Check On Social Media Accounts 

A social media check involves looking for the individual on various social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to see what publicly accessible information and activity is available. Their more sensitive information should be respected, and so be sure to review only those things that relate to their suitability for the job position. This can include: 

  • Posts and comments made by the candidate
  • Photos and videos shared by the candidate
  • Connections and followers of the candidate
  • Groups and pages liked by the candidate
  • Reviews and ratings given by the candidate
  • Information and details included in the candidate’s profile
  • Any posts or comments made about the candidate by friends or other account holders

Risks of Carrying Out Digital Footprint Checks

Carrying out digital footprint checks on potential new employees can be a risky endeavour.

Employers must be aware of the legal and ethical issues of using personal information to make hiring decisions, especially in a digital world where privacy is becoming increasingly important. 

You might also be interested in reading the Legal Considerations with Background Checks. 

Inaccurate data with no context can lead to an unfair judgement about a potential candidate and could also lead to discrimination against certain groups of people. There is also the risk of infringing on an individual’s privacy, as employers may access confidential information that may not be relevant to the job.  

Or, let’s say the individual who conducts the digital footprint check ends up working with the new candidate; they may have access to more personal information about the candidate than is appropriate for a work context. This can create uncomfortable or awkward situations and may damage the relationship between the two individuals.

Given these risks, amongst a few others (such as a data breach), employers need to weigh all potential outcomes before deciding whether or not to carry out digital footprint checks on potential new employees. Doing so will help ensure that each candidate receives an unbiased assessment regardless of their online presence and prevent any unwanted legal repercussions down the road.

Because of the sensitive nature of the content and the need to balance the company’s safety with the candidate’s rights, it may be best to enlist the help of professionals such as Accurate Background.

Key Takeaways

Digital footprint checks can provide valuable information for employers when assessing the online presence and reputation of potential new employees. They allow employers to double-check the information and working history outlined in a resume, as well as gain insights into the candidate’s background, interests, and behaviour, which can help them make informed hiring decisions.

However, digital footprint checks also carry certain risks, including the potential invasion of privacy and inaccurate or unreliable information misused within a hidden process. Therefore, you must carefully consider these risks and take steps to mitigate them, such as obtaining consent from the candidate and hiring a third-party screening agency, such as Accurate Australia, to carry out the digital footprint checks on your behalf. 

Accurate Australia adheres to strict privacy and ethical guidelines, ensuring that the information obtained through their digital footprint checks is used fairly and responsibly. By partnering with Accurate Australia, you can access the information you need to make informed hiring decisions without risking the invasion of privacy or other ethical concerns.

Contact us today to find out more.