Why Social Media Screening is Necessary for Informed Hiring

Why Social Media Screening is Necessary for Informed Hiring

By Tricia O'Connor

Even before COVID-19 changed our business practices, employers were using online resources to vet candidates. Now that much – if not all – of the hiring process has gone virtual, social media checks can help you get a better idea of which candidates could be a good fit.

But there are risks involved. Here is how social media is impacting employment and hiring during this pandemic.

An Anonymous Activity?

Remote work is skyrocketing. So is employees’ unfiltered access to social media. Now that we’ve (hopefully) settled into a routine at home and reached peak productivity, employees are back to their old digital habits. For some this means a morning scan of online newspapers and a pick-me-up Microsoft Teams call with some colleagues. For others, it means spending time on social media.  

And for those folks who are looking for jobs, social media can be a terrific networking tool.

But let’s not paint a ridiculously rosy picture of social media or what people do while they’re on it. Although the vast majority of social users conduct themselves in such a way their grandmother would be proud, there is a percentage of people who treat social media as an anonymous activity. But it’s not. Words, pictures, and behaviors have meaning and impact. Especially to employers.

Reasons Employers Won’t Hire

The rise of social media as a recruiting filter cannot be underestimated. Before the anxiety of COVID-19 and the resurgent attention on racial equality even began, 70 percent of you used social media to screen candidates during your hiring process.

A 2017 CareerBuilder survey shows employers won’t hire candidates for the following reasons:

  • 40% – provocative photos
  • 36% – drinking or drug use
  • 31% – discriminatory comments
  • 26% – criminal behavior

With high rates of unemployment, more people working from home, and flared tensions because of recent events, the number of people spending time on social media is surging. Although it might be appealing to try to get a sneak peek at candidates’ online behavior yourself, conducting internal social media checks without proper training is risky, cost-heavy, and filled with holes.

What is Social Media Screening?

A social screening report comprises a 360-degree view of a candidate’s or employee’s digital business-related behavior. For example, EBI’s social screening reports focus on: 

  • Intolerant or racist remarks/images
  • Potentially illegal behavior or violent conduct
  • Sexually explicit material

These reports are curated from a variety of social media accounts, dating websites, pictures, microblogs, forums, and online communities. A proper social screening report from a vetted provider should be Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliant and accurately match a candidate or employee to their digital activity. A report takes the guesswork out of online behaviors and helps employers to: 

  • Maintain workplace safety both in house and remote
  • Bolster culture with people who enhance your mission
  • Reduce negligent hiring and discrimination lawsuits

While there is no substitute for a criminal background check, an EBI Social Screening Report is a necessary component to any comprehensive hiring policy, especially in a post-COVID business environment.

EBI Can Help

Still have questions about social media? We’ve just the thing to help you find the rest of the answers you need.


Join us on Thursday, July 16 at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT for this LIVE webinar presented by EBI and Social Intelligence. We’ll cover:

  • Laws and regulations around social media screening
  • Social media trends during COVID-19
  • The risks of a DIY approach
  • What social screening entails
  • How social screening can work for you
  • Staying compliant

Can’t make it but still interested? Register anyway and we’ll send you the recording and slide deck at a later date. Register Here!

Our goal at EBI is to advocate for your business goals and help propel you forward in our new enterprise climate. Making informed hiring and monitoring decisions with credible social media screening is something our EBI experts are happy to assist with. Feel free to email us, connect with us on our LinkedIn page, or speak with one of our experts.

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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