As recent eruptions on the Internet have proven, a single tweet can and will likely be used against you. The most recent example of this came from a three year old tweet from professional fútbol hopeful, Julio Rey.
Rey was right on the cusp of achieving his dream and signing with Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña, only to have his hopes crushed by a last-minute scan of his social media activity by the club’s legal department. One negative tweet from 2012, slamming the club and the stadium it plays in, cost him his opportunity. What was behind that one unfortunate tweet? Only Rey knows. The fact remains that the tweet may have cost him his professional fútbol career.
As social media gets more prevalent, I continue to get more questions over the role it should or should not play in background screening. My opinion? It should not.
I know it’s naïve to think that in this day and age, with all the technology and self-uploaded content available, that any HR and/or hiring manager does not check social media sites for information. However, there are many inherent risks in doing so.
For example, an employer could make the decision not to pursue a candidate who seems pregnant in an online photo. Or the hirer could deny someone a job because they do not like the religious beliefs expressed on the candidate’s profile. The potential for discrimination is great.
Furthermore, by law an applicant must have a process available to them to address information used to make hiring decision. In most cases, if an employer is using social media to make a hiring decision they are not sharing that feedback with the candidate, which denies the applicant the ability to dispute adverse information.
Using social media to make hiring decisions starts a dangerous precedent.
Unfortunately, I think it is only a matter of time until we see the very scenarios I outlined above become the fodder of future discrimination lawsuits and front page Internet news.
Avoid the red card and adopt a compliant background screening processes that give candidates a fair process and follows the letter of the law.