Social Media Your Brand

The New Background Check: Make Sure you Pass It!

Getting a Job just got Harder
If you thought it was already difficult to get a job, beware of the new background check!  So many barriers to gaining employment already exist including criminal background checks, drug screens, personality tests, skills assessments, and credit checks but make way for a new type of background check….your digital footprint!  Also known as your online presence, your online brand, or your reputation graph, employers have been screening candidates’ online profiles to gain a much more intimate understanding of who they may hire.  However, now there is a company dedicated to collecting this stuff and keeping it in a file for 7 years!

A New Industry is Spawned
In a recent Forbes article, it was announced that the Federal Trade Commission gave approval to a new background check company called Social Intelligence that screens job applicants based on their Internet photos and postings.  It appears that an entire new industry has been spawned with Social Intelligence leading the way.  Although it is well-known employers have been Googling prospective job candidates for a while and perusing their social media profiles, this is yet another indicator that job seekers need to get used to this growing trend.

What Does This Mean for Job Seekers?
Social Intelligence has set a precedent that social media screening should be a standard practice and it looks as if that will be the trend in the future.  With that being said, it is more important than ever that job seekers clean up their online image.  There are too many job seekers online who have made the mistake of thinking that their online pictures, comments, tweets, and videos can only be seen by their friends.  Not only are those people wrong, but now there is a company digging for that stuff and beware of what they find!

Do you think it is right for companies to use your online images and comments as a screening mechanism for a job?  Leave your comments and tell us what you think.


  • I think it’s unfathomably retarded to use someone’s facebook or other social media tool that the applicant is apart of to determine if he/she is right for the job. Wouldn’t that violate our rights? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” What ever we do outside of work, what ever we do when we are OFF the clock is OUR business. I honestly would not want to work for a company that checks your facebook status before they hire you, obviously that company has some serious issues to spend more money and more time on checking your posts and stats. Isn’t a drug screen and background check good enough? WTF AMERICA?

    • Jeff,

      I imagine many people will be upset with the new employer background trends. It is a reality though that employers are already screening candidates through social media. They Google candidates, scan social media sites, and dig up whatever they can find. One might argue that whatever someone puts on the net is fair game since it has been made public and if employers, including other individuals decide to use it to make decisions about people, it is reasonable to do so. Consider U.S. Representative, Anthony Weiner who was recently slammed in the media for his inappropriate tweets. He ended up resigning from office. Consider the person who decides to blog about their company to trash their co-workers online or to speak negatively about their company….does an employer not have a right to hold employees accountable for how they conduct themselves in and outside of work? The question is….where does one draw the line? Should the Congressman not have had to resign? What are your thoughts?

      • From a business perspective, having the ability to screen job applicants as much as possible is a very appealing proposition. It allows you to bypass the delinquents and search for the promising talent that will drive your company’s success.

        From a personal perspective, having a potential employer sifting through your personal interactions with friends and family could damage your professional reputation, and cripple your chance of getting a job, and opens the gate to the questionable legality of discrimination in the work place. Considering Facebook lets people tag their friends in photos that THEY post, professional credibility could be destroyed by one stupid picture that you may not have even realized was taken of you.

        As with any other background check, it should be an unenforced option, and should only be performed with expressed consent with a signature from the applicant. Without my agreement to a background check, investigation into my personal life is a violation of my privacy.

        That’s how I feel about it anyway. Stuff like this puts a certain level of personal pressure on the internet, and impacts the concept of freedom of expression. It should be unconstitutional.

    • Dear Mr. Secorsky,

      While I agree with the premise of your response Jeff, much like Mr Starks iterated, the reality is that employers are already “infringing” on ones rights by conducting background checks, drug screens (can’t get more invasive than that)and probing reference checks. So, while taking on all the risk that hiring someone can bring, is it any wonder that in a continuing effort to identify the character of potential employees that employers are using yet another resource that’s not only public information, but also out there for all to see. Maybe (for those who are concerned about it the most) people should use more discretion about their personal lives and keep things more private, instead of advertising every ioda of the fun, or the anger, or the rage, or the drinking, or the use of explitives they used during a particular segment of their lives….Just a thought…..Michael

      • Michael,

        I like the way you put it when you said, “…while taking on all the risk that hiring someone can bring, is it any wonder that in a continuing effort to identify the character of potential employees that employers are using yet another resource…” This is insightful towards the employer’s perspective and you are right – they take on risk when they make a decision to hire someone. Good insight!

  • This has been a hot topic across many people, both young and old. Everyone has their “hidden and secret” life outside of work and their jobs, but in the end, when you work for a company, especially for a major corporation or a developing company, you represent them 24/7. I know this is quite a big assumption, but I’m sure companies aren’t going to deny your application just because you have a photo of you in a club dancing or drinking. I’m sure they realize, “That’s typical life”. It’s pictures of you doing offensive things, disrespecting your previous jobs, lie about your “sick day”, and so forth that will get you into trouble. Doing bad things on the internet is equivalent to doing bad things in public. Would you ever do something crazy knowing that your parents are there, or your boss? I think people become a bit too personal in their updates at times, and don’t realize the potential consequences that it may bring. There are tons of hidden ways to share personal information with friends, families, and so forth. Why put it on such a public platform such as Facebook? Once you post something on Facebook, you’re already hinting to the fact that you want someone to see it and react to it, and unfortunately that status might reach someone you didn’t “expect”. As the saying goes, “think before you speak”.

    And for those thinking putting your profiles on private is a good solution, there are tons of ways to find information about you. All they really need is an email address. And also, I’m glad they do check social profiles, because that actually helps a lot of people get jobs. You can interact with people and potential companies before you even get to send a resume, application, or even consider working for them. The relationship can build into a potential job, or help you get leads to others. It’s great to be social online. It shows off your personality, how you balance work and play, and give you inspiration for whatever you do. You just have to monitor it.

    • Dan,

      You make an excellent point – rather than being frustrated that employers screen candidates via social profiles, consider the opportunity it provides as you clearly outlined. People have so much more opportunity to develop relationships with people that they never would have met otherwise and they have so much more opportunity to market their brands.

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