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What Role Does Social Media Play in Background Checks?

Can a potential employer really look you up on Facebook and other social media platforms? Sure they can. Do they do this regularly? Probably more often than you think. Since social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, are no longer new concepts, employers have been evaluating potential employees on social media for years. Although some may not like potential employers pursing their Facebook pages and twitter feeds, employers are finding that social media background checks can produce more useable information than regular background checks.

Why do they bother? The first question you're probably wondering is, "Why do employers care about what I do on social media?" The answer is simple: Because social media is transparent, it displays exactly who you are, what you believe, who you're friends with, and how you spend your time. Everyone knows that you're going to be on your best behavior in an interview. If an employer really wants to know who you are, all they have to do is see what you're tweeting about or posting on Facebook. Since social media platforms were never intended for professional networking, users forget to sensor themselves. This is still the case even after years of social media background checking.

What are they looking for? So, if employers are perusing applicant Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, what exactly are they looking for? They're looking for red flags. They'll look through your photos to see if you promote or engage in inappropriate behavior, they'll read your posts and tweets to see if you're racist or anti-Semitic. They will scroll through your newsfeed or follow you to see if you are respectful to other social media users. They are looking for dirt and, boy, is it easy to dig through social media. When social media platforms make it easy for you to advertise your entire life and everyone in it, employers know that what they are seeing is transparent and real.

Where can they find information? You don't tweet and you don't bother using Facebook, so it looks like employers won't be able to perform a social media background check on you. Wrong! Major social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook aren't the only places employers go to do their social media background checking. They will search Google, Bing, Flickr, YouTube, Craigslist, and even various blog domains. Why? Because everything you say, do, and post on these platforms can give the employer a better glimpse of who you are as a person. To make the process easier, many employers use programs that allow them to quickly search across a variety of social platforms. If you think you're safe from social media background checking, think again. No one can hide from social media back ground checking, so clean up your social media act.

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