HR Management & Compliance

Outsource SM Background Checks? Pros and Cons

Yesterday’s Advisor featured attorney Kevin McCormick’s tips for social media sleuthing; today, his take on outsourcing social media searches, plus news of an upcoming free webcast on talent management.

Several consumer reporting agencies specialize in social media searches, McCormick says. For example,

  • Social Intelligence. This California start-up is “FTC-approved” in that an investigation was conducted with no charges. It compiles red flags from public social media sources, including drug use, racism, etc.
  • Reppify. Creates a “job fit score.”
  • Identified. Does candidate “scoring” based on Facebook profile.

Basically, it’s akin to drug tests where the medical review officer gives a pass/fail report to the employer, McCormick says. These social media search companies are saying that they will sanitize the information before it is passed on to the employer. “I haven’t seen any useful information come from these sources,” says McCormick.

Chair of the Labor and Employment Section of Baltimore law firm Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP, McCormick is also a member of the 50-state Employers Counsel Network. His remarks came at the Advanced Employment Issues Symposium held recently in Las Vegas.

Benefits to Outsourcing Social Media Searches


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  • Separation between social media investigation and recruiting team reduces chances of discovering information regarding protected classes.
  • Vendor may be able to better focus on job-relevant issues.
  • More thorough search may lessen negligent hiring risks.
  • May reduce risk of appearance of invasion of privacy.
  • May reduce risk of interference with concerted activities.

Costs to Outsourcing Social Media Searches

  • Consumer reports require Fair Credit Reporting Act and state equivalent compliance.
  • Additional costs on top of regular background checks.
  • May collect information irrelevant to success in workplace.
  • May create appearance of discrimination.

Handling Protected Class Information Revealed in Social Media Searches

McCormick offers the following suggestions for coping with social media search issues:

  • Request “redactions” from third-party vendors and consumer reporting agencies of protected information.
  • Rely on topic-neutral social media sources (e.g., public Twitter and Facebook accounts vs. posts on Mothenng.com).
  • Stick to public content.
  • Notify applicants of policy.
  • Comply with terms of service for each social media site searched.
  • Do not coerce passwords or access during interviews.
  • Be consistent.
  • Have in-house reports prepared and summarized by personnel not directly involved in the hiring process.

Social media challenges—actually all manner of technical challenges—are the issues of the day, and technology and talent management are becoming the top issue for many organizations.

Fortunately there’s timely help–—and it’s free, thanks to sponsor ICIMS. Join us March 25 for Talent Management Technology: 5 Reasons to Embrace HRMS in Attracting, Sourcing, Recruiting & Onboarding Top Talent. In just 60 minutes, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how technology can enhance your talent acquisition process.

Register now for this event—there is no charge to attend.

Monday, March 25, 2013
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)
1:00 p.m. (Central)
12:00 p.m. (Mountain)
11:00 a.m. (Pacific)

Prior to the live event you’ll receive an email as a reminder with instructions on how and when to join the webcast and download your materials.

Join us on March 25—you’ll get the in-depth Talent Management Technology: 5 Reasons to Embrace HRMS in Attracting, Sourcing, Recruiting & Onboarding Top Talent webcast AND you’ll get all of your particular questions answered by our experts.


Join Daily Advisor and iCIMS on March 25 for a free 60-minute webcast on the exploding impact technology is having on talent management. Find out how talent acquisition and technology go hand and hand and why using technology is crucial to your organization’s future recruiting and talent management success. Register now for this free event.


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  • Train all the staff you can fit around a conference phone
  • You can get your (and their) specific phoned-in or emailed questions answered in Q&A sessions that follow each segment of the presentation

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About your speaker:

As CEO and Chief HR Consultant of Jumpstart:HR, a Managed HR Services Firm, Joey V. Price, MS, PHR oversees the operations of the organization by providing trusted on-site and remote Human Resources support and expertise to small and medium sized business across the United States.

Price has been consulted as a career management and HR expert for BlackEnterprise.com, CareerBuilder.com, and Workforce Management Magazine, among others, and he has spoken around the United States and Internationally including serving as a panelist for the 2012 SHRM Staffing and Talent Management Conference.

About Our Sponsor—ICIMS

iCIMS’ Talent Platform is the industry’s premier talent acquisition solution that enables HR professionals to manage their organization’s entire talent lifecycle from sourcing to applicant tracking to onboarding all within one location.

Register now for this free event