We all know that social networking sites are becoming a part of life quickly. Nearly everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, or some even have the dying Myspace accounts, but here’s something not many people think about, the budding of social networking background checks. That’s right, now not only do you have to pass a criminal background check, you may have to be concerned about what kind of information you’ve willingly gave to the public on websites. Now, there are professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn, which may help your case, but may not be able to out balance any negative connotations you’ve racked up through your other sites.
What are they looking for? They really aren’t looking at your pictures, unless you have explicit ones laying around on your Facebook, Flickr, or blog, but they are looking back seven years and noting any time of aggressive, racist, or sexual content. Here’s the fun part though, the employer puts the information to search for, kind of like a glorified version of Google if you would, things that you would supply on your resume, your e-mail, phone number, address, that sort of thing. No, this is not an invasion of privacy, the fact of the matter is that this is our future. Companies already have rules about how to use social networks in agreement to your employment, in example, don’t post unreleased ads, sales numbers, anything that the company would consider private. Now they are just learning how to use networking to their own advantage and Social Intelligence offers that service for them.
There are some disadvantages with these searches, again they are based on information that you provide the employer, so it’s only as accurate as you can make it, meaning favorable information could be missed. Also, the people who review things for explicit context are simply that, people, human and it could come down to personal opinion. Things, especially text, could be taken out of context, something that your friends would realize is a joke, may not come across as that in the test. The nice thing about the report though, is it simply gives a pass or fail to the employer, meaning that they will not find out anything about your race, religion, sex, and keeps the test objective and keeping your life fairly personal still.
So how do you keep from flunking your social networking background check? Well, I don’t think there’s a sure way to beat the system, but the one thing that I would highly suggest, other than don’t be stupid, would be to have a professional e-mail that’s not tied to your personal one. Use your professional one on things that you want them to find, your LinkedIn account, for example, so they can see that you are capable of networking professionally. If you’re applying for a job that your blog actually applies to, use it there, but it keep it away from your Facebook, Twitter, and any other account that you may tend to post on when you’re drunk, angry, or just being plain sarcastic.
Social networking background checks will probably be seen more and more as time goes on and technology takes an even bigger part of our lives, but it makes perfect sense. People lie on their applications, resumes, and those silly little personality tests, but the internet can reveal much more about a person. Eventually it will become the norm to allow Social Intelligence to preform a background check on all candidates and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it if you don’t like it.