Social Media Screening: A guide for HR

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05
May

Social Media Screening: A guide for HR

Is asking for social media information from your applicants more common than you may think? At times when you are recruiting a manager, for example, you may ask for their social media information, as well as the applicants’ CV, references, and their cover letters.

Social media has a massive impact on society and has grown tremendously, this now makes it essential for HR departments to use social media as part of performing background screening checks. However, there have been some concerns of legal and privacy consequences and involvement from carrying out Social media screening.

A research taken place has shown that social media screening of applicants is more common as 70 percent of employers look at applicants’ profiles before recruiting them. Complygate offers social media screening for new hires to be carried out. This is because a brand image can be damaged by your employee’s social media platforms.

Character insights

You can get to know someone deeply by them leaving a social media footprint. This can lower the risk by the HR department using such information to ensure that they hire the right person for the job and for the company. Leader and managers can raise concerns when they are actively monitoring a social media page of the followings:


  • Violent content
  • Sexually explicit content
  • Illegal activities
  • Inappropriate content
  • Hateful/ discriminatory behaviour
  • Extreme views

When conducting a social media screening it includes more than just going through an applicant’s social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, etc. The following are some tips for the HR department on the best practices for social media services.

Good practices:


  • Applying the policy that you have chosen – do not pick a policy just before you are going to conduct the social media screening/search.
  • Deletion of old posts must be allowed and applying social media policies to any newly recruited applicants.
  • To make the applicant aware that there will be a social media screening/search apart of the pre-employment screening before it is taken place.
  • Ensuring that you have realistic policies, like, the way we show ourselves on social media/online is normally open for people to see, our families, friends, employers, colleagues, and our customers or clients can see as well. Screening resources and tools that we know use and have available claiming ignorance will not be a definable position in most cases.

Bad practices:


  • When examining a red-flag result do not forget the context of it.
  • You will have a less balanced view if you only focus on the negatives, whereas if you look at the positives too there will be a balanced view.
  • Do not risk, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, oversights and may even discrimination when carrying out social media screening within your company.
  • The following must not be in your reports, protected characteristics.

Advice for Candidates

When you are looking for a new job or wanting to transition to a professional role after graduating from university, giving you social media, a deep cleaning is a good first action to take. This is because the leaders and managers that will be recruiting you will go through your social media platforms like, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. most organisations will conduct a social media screening; however, it can also depend on the industry in some cases. A way to know if your social media page is cleaned up is, down off your privacy setting and carrying out a social media screening test on yourself.

Screening yourself

When screening yourself, you want to first ensure that your privacy setting is locked down. You may want to double-check especially if a job position is at risk. The following are some further actions that you can carry out to ensure that you are prepared to start your job search.

Google yourself

When you Google yourself ensure that you are doing it in a private mode in your browser, you can do this by using Google Chrome incognito. This is because it makes sure that any cookies or history etc that you may have does not impact the results of the search. In other words, it will as though you are the first person to be searching/ googling yourself and your name.

During the search that you will be carrying out if you discover any compromising picture or information about yourself, you will essentially need to something about it. You may need to get in contact with a website to get some information that is private removed from it. However, in some cases, legal action may be needed to successfully get the private content. Even though you have the right to demand it to be taken off.

There are some services available to help with cleaning your presence off the internet, this is if the results from the search come up with lots of adverse material or the request that you have put through to a website does not comply with the removal of it.

Go through your social media pages.

There may come a time where you no longer use your social media platform, however, platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn you will discover some shocking information, where you will find old Myspace accounts that are still active with photo and information which may be embarrassing.

When you google search yourself the search results should come up with your social media pages. As explained before you should use a private browser, so you would be going through your search result as a stranger would see it and all the profiles that they will have access to. Even though a common thing to get access to the information you need to log in to the platform yourself, like Facebook as an example. However, these websites so still often have ways in which you can see your platforms as if you were a stranger. So, when you cannot use a private browser like incognito, this becomes useful as you will still be able to see the information that you may be exposing yourself. After you know exactly what information and pictures that you will be giving away to other people to see. What could be your next action?

Reading your social media for your job hunt.

In this day of age where digital is everywhere and everything people use and rely on, to prepare for a job search there is more that goes into it than just simply printing out your CV. The following will discuss the ways that you can make your social media platforms ready for any screening that may be taken place.

Professional, consistent profile photos.

Considering the way your profile picture looks on your social media platforms and the way that they will look to other people that may come across your pages. It may be that in the photo your face is too close, or the picture is not of you but of your pet perhaps that is representing you. Something you may want to keep in mind is how professional-looking is your profile picture, and how would it appear to others, and if you need to change it.

To get a professional and perfect-looking picture for your profile it should be focused on yourself, not a picture of a group of people with you. To make it more professional and easier to recognise you should use similar or the same profile picture on all of your social media platforms. Here are some tips:


  • Show your teeth, smile more.
  • Dress formally if it is work-based, for example, LinkedIn.
  • Make your head and shoulders visible in the picture.

Be careful about your posting.

Organisations what competent and composed professionals, therefore, it is fair to say that is what managers are looking for. So, if your social media platforms do not meet this, perhaps change the types of things that you post on your social media. It can also depend on the job role that you are applying for example if you are for a job role as a manager-level position as a financial organisation, you may want to stop or cut on posting about you and your friends at nights out partying.

Some further tips that may be helpful:


  • The things that you post on social media put limits on what others can see. There could be a wrong impression given to managers or whoever is doing the social media screening with the people that you interact with and how they think of you. You may also want to remove any friends on your platform that post offensive material.
  • Texts and photos that can be easily misinterpreted you may want to avoid from posting. You also want to be careful of the things that you post on your platforms and not share anything that can be insensitive or controversial.
  • Another thing that you want to avoid is posting anything about your previous jobs and your current job e.g., anything negative about the job, your boss, colleagues. It is not a professional look if you talk badly about your previous boss even though they may have been horrible.

Make sure you are making the correct posts.

What is the reason for organisations conducting pre-employment careening? One reason is that businesses will most likely have certain things that they are looking for in their employees, therefore they will do the screening to see if a candidate is what they are looking for. For example, they may investigate your LinkedIn profile, to search for key skills that you may have listed in your profile. To show your ability for good communication skills online they may investigate your Facebook account.

A qualified applicant is what a company will always look for no matter what job it is. This is the reason why we list our skills in our CVs and take them into job interviews. You may also want to list your qualifications and skills on your social media platforms as it may be helpful.

You are given a dedicated space on Twitter for a short description to give of your strengths as a professional. This is key for digital marketers as your social media platforms represent the kind of understanding that you have. To show you Hashtag skills Instagram is a good place for this.

To pass social screening and to get job positions in the future do not make any mistakes in the things that you post on your social media platforms.

Showcase your ability.

Social media platforms are a great and helpful way of promoting yourself and presenting your qualifications and skills, as well as, keeping up with family and friends. A platform where you could self-promote is LinkedIn. Whereas Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook are platforms where you can use to present your abilities of professionalism.

By doing this it is a good way of impressing any future employers. It all depends on where you work such as the industry that you work in, although, for example, someone that works in sales, could they do any harm in posting about their success quarterly? Or if you are working in the creative industry, you can use social media page kind of like a portfolio, letting you create and share them. It will allow employers to see how passionate you are and not just be doing the bare minimum of clocking in from 9-5.

Let your personality show.

Once you have got your picture, and your description perfected to how you want it to be and professional looking that is all that you can do until you get into the job that you want. When it comes to social media a person’s personality showing through it is not a factor that is focused on that much. However, allowing yourself to open about yourself to the fullest will allow and help you to be more personable, relate to others, and likeable.

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