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How to Use Social Media to Background Check Employees

Courtesy of Jane Smith

When you own a business, it can be absolutely heartbreaking to find that an employee has done you wrong. Whether they were less than polite to a customer or turned someone away as a result of incompetence, you know that the first thing customers notice about your business are the employees running it. That’s why it’s so important to protect yourself from hiring the wrong people. While you can’t avoid this every time, there are plenty of ways to make sure that the persona an interviewee presents to you is as close to accurate as possible.

While many employers pay big bucks to run background checks of potential employees, you may not wish to go this far, or you may not have the funds to cover multiple screenings. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to use new social mediums to your advantage when screening employees. With a little extra effort, you can do a quick background check of your own to help you find exactly the right fit for your business and, hopefully, avoid employee disasters in the future.

Find the right person.

The first thing to do is use all the information you have on hand to make sure you are targeting the right person in your online search. You will have their first and last name, their address, their last few employers, and their phone just from receiving a resume. With today’s social media sharing, that information should be enough to find the employee you want to search. Do a Google search first, and then try Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Check for employment consistency.

The first way to see if an employee has been forthcoming during the interview process is to see if their resume and details shared during an interview match up to any online trails they have on profiles.

Facebook now has a timeline that marks the year and date of employment, travel, relationships, and everything in between. A LinkedIn profile should also most definitely match a resume.

Assess general attitude.

Once you know that you’ve found the right person and that they seem to have told you the truth about their background, you can use sites like Twitter and Facebook to get a general feel for who this person is. Are they constantly complaining? Do they make fun of co-workers or their bosses online? Is there a general negative, apathetic or aggressive attitude that seems to persist in their online interactions? If so, it may be best to pass on this candidate.

Check friends’ profiles.

Next, you should go the extra mile by taking a quick look at the friends of a potential employee. While no one wants to be judged by the random interactions on their Facebook wall, if it seems that this candidate regularly associates with particular people, check out their friends’ profiles. You can learn a lot about a person based on the company they keep.

Look for clues in photos.

Another good way to learn more about a candidate or track down their friends is by searching their photos. Many Instagram users take photos throughout the day, and you can get a good look at who someone is, where they’ve been, and with whom by taking a look at photos they post online.

While some of these suggestions may seem like a bit much, the things that people post in public forums are there for the world to see. There is no reason not to protect yourself as a business owner and use everything at your disposal to make sure there is nothing lurking behind a candidate’s interview persona that could potentially affect your business.

With knowledge of the best background check companies and tactics, Jane Smith provides vital information and tips throughout her blogs. Email her your thoughts or concerns at

Photo credit: Sfaiez

3 Responses to this post.

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  3. Kat Barger's Gravatar

    Posted by Kat Barger on 29.06.12 at 5:00 am

    Look for clues in the photos. People get tagged in photos all the time. Some of these tagged photos are from the night out where you are caught with a beverage in your hand or doing something goofy. These tagged photos automatically get linked too your profile for everyone to see, including your professional connections on Facebook. Note that you can change your tag setting so that all photos you’re tagged in have to be first approved by you. If it’s too late and you’ve already been tagged in a few ‘fun’ photos, you can untag yourself. Keep your profile PG as you never know who is looking at your profile.

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