Best Practice for Internet Background Checks? Survey Says…

Hiring & Recruiting
by Stephen Bruce, PhD, PHR

In yesterday’s Advisor, we presented the results of the Monster/BLR Survey of Recruiting Best Practices. Today, the survey’s data around social media and Google background checks, plus an introduction to our ready-to-go digital collection of 350 HR policies.

Of the survey respondents who conducted either Google searches or social media searches:

Concerned about learning too much online?

Twenty-six percent were concerned about learning too much (For example, a candidate’s gender, religion, or race.)

Have your hiring decisions been influenced by what you found online?

Forty-one percent have been positively influenced to hire based on information they found online, while twenty-six percent have turned down a candidate based on what they found online.

Do you visit candidates’ social media pages (e.g., FaceBook pages) as part of your background checking procedures?

Nineteen percent of respondents indicated that they did visit candidates’ social media pages.

Answer Options

Response Percent

Yes

18.7%

No

77.7%

Don’t Know

3.6%

For those that do visit candidates’ social media pages, overwhelmingly the HR department does the search.

Who searches?

Response Percent

HR Department

72.1%

Hiring Manager

22.1%

Third party within the organization

8.1%

Third party outside the organization

7.0%

Of employers who search social media, most perform the search for finalists only.

For whom do you do a search?

Response Percent

All candidates

24.7%

All those who are contacted

12.9%

All finalists for the position

51.8%

Only those to whom a job has been offered

14.1%

“Other responses” included the following:

  • Applicants that have proceeded through the screening process up to F2F [face-to-face] interview.
  • Occasionally for office hires
  • Applicants that appear to be a potential candidate, but based on application/resume information, we feel there is reason to check them out a little further before going the next step in the consideration/interview process.

Very few (fewer than 1%) of those who conduct social media searches ask for the applicant’s social media password.


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Do you conduct a Google or similar search?

Of those who do a social media search, the vast majority (80.5 percent) also conduct a Google or similar search on candidates.

Of those who do not conduct social media searches, only about 23.6 percent conduct a Google or similar search.

Comments tended to indicate a “sometimes” approach to doing Google or similar searches, for example:

  1. Not often but have done it
  2. Some, not all
  3. It depends on level of employee
  4. I have done this occasionally once a candidate is on board, but not as a practice or rule
  5. Not unless we have a suspicion that we need to
  6. Not company policy to do so but will quickly look for any red flags

For which candidates is the Google or similar search performed?

Answer Options

Percent

All candidates

23.5%

All those who are contacted

16.8%

All finalists for the position

45.6%

Only those to whom a job has been offered

18.2%

Who performs the Google or similar search?

As with the social media searches, most Google or similar searches are performed by the HR Department.

Who performs the Google search?

Percent

HR Department

80.5%

Hiring Manager

17.0%

Third party within the organization

6.3%

Third party outside the organization

5.7%

Internet background checks—yet another policy challenge for HR managers. Actually, our editors estimate that for most companies, there are 50 or so policies that need regular updating (or maybe need to be written). It’s easy to let policies slide, but you can’t afford to—your policies are your only hope for consistent and compliant management that avoids lawsuits.

Fortunately, BLR’s editors have done most of the work for you in their extraordinary program called SmartPolicies.


Don’t struggle with creating compliant HR policies! We’ve already written them for you, and at less than $1 each. Plus, for a limited time receive a bonus special report. Click Here.


SmartPolicies’ expert authors have already worked through the critical issues on some 100 policy topics and have prewritten the policies for you.

In all, SmartPolicies contains some 350 policies, arranged alphabetically from absenteeism and blogging to cell phone safety, EEO, voice mail, and workers’ compensation. What’s more, the CD format makes these policies easily customizable. Just add your company specifics or use as is.

Just as important, as regulations and court decisions clarify your responsibilities on workplace issues, the policies are updated—or new ones are added—as needed, every quarter, as a standard part of the program.

SmartPolicies is available to HR Daily Advisor subscribers on a 30-day evaluation basis at no cost or risk … even for return postage. If you’d like to have a look at it, let us know, and we’ll be happy to arrange it.

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  1. Anonymous        
    November 9, 2012 10:25 am

    One thing I wonder about is whether applicants grasp that their social media and online postings are subject to search by potential employers. Based on some of the things you see, it seems like a lot of people are oblivious about the problems they could cause.