Employers and recruiters should not conduct Social Media Background Checks in-house; there are strong legal reasons why this should be subcontracted to a neutral third party.  But if you must…

  1. Consider Direct Entries Only.  Only consider direct posts by applicants; “friends” are not at all helpful in this context.  There is a big difference between “I drank so much last night that I am still drunk at work this morning!” and “Wow Betty you drank so much last night, you’ve gotta still be drunk at work this morning!”
  2. Be Methodical and Consistent. Build Social Media Background Checks into the hiring process in a formal way, such that all applicants are checked in the same way at the same time in the process.
  3. Asking for Login Names and Passwords is Verboten – It’s probably a violation of one or another federal or state laws, not least of which is the (federal) Stored Communcations Act.  So can applicants hide behind their privacy settings? Probably yes.
  4. Procrastinate. Investigate the social media profiles of applicants AFTER meetings or interviews, when association in protected groups is already known.
  5. Ask HR to check social media profiles, not the hiring manager. Have a neutural, informed, and non-involved member of HR or management check the social media candidate profiles. (But what if this person has political or racial leanings?  That’s why it’s best to sub this out to a third party.)
  6. Keep Dated Copies Of Everything.  Social media pages change frequently for a multitude of reasons.  Don’t assume that content of interest will be there when you need it.  Make copies and screen shots on the spot.  “Printing” to a pdf page may be the best using tools such as FoxItPhantomPDF or Software995.  These docs may be critical in responding to government audit questions, such as why certain candidates were not hired.