Excerpted from The Global Recruiter By Newsdesk

Background and identity services provider Sterling has called for greater awareness around the intricacies and potential risks behind social media background checks. This comes following a survey which revealed that most HR professionals are not using these channels to vet candidates due to a lack of clarity around the rules.

The research, carried out in a recent webinar by the company titled “Background Check Compliance: The Mistakes You could be Making without Realizing”, revealed that 63 per cent of HR professionals are not carrying out social media checks, while 62 per cent stated that they did not understand the risks of searching a candidate’s social profiles.

Steve Smith, managing director of Sterling EMEA, has urged recruiters and talent acquisition managers to be aware of the risks of social media screening, but not to discard it altogether. “What’s clear from our recent analysis is that a lack of awareness over the potential risks of social media screening is potentially preventing many HR and recruitment professionals from using these channels,” said Smith. “As long as the etiquette, ethics, and legality of social media screening continues to remain a grey area for businesses, this issue is bound to persist.

‘’Companies must be absolutely certain of what checks they can perform for different roles, and develop a comprehensive and consistent background screening policy,” he added. “Letting ‘protected characteristics’ revealed on social media such as gender, age and race affect recruitment decisions could potentially lead to fines and damage to your employer brand.’’

Smith notes that 43 per cent of hiring managers have uncovered materials online that caused them not to hire someone, so not carrying out such checks could prove very costly. “By adhering to a few well thought out guidelines, companies can enjoy all the benefits of social media screening – with fewer risks,” he concludes.