How employers can screen your social media posts during the hiring process

Posted at 11:56 AM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-01 16:51:20-04

In the digital age, it's no surprise that how we manage our social media accounts can easily impact our success when we're in the market for a new job. 

But, in what ways can employers legally use that information to screen potential candidates?

Randal Cole, a member at Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler, PLC in Bloomfield Hills, stopped by Broadcast House today to discuss how social media reviews are conducted during the hiring process. 

"At this point, we're recommending that employers use social media as a supplement to their standard hiring policies," said Cole. 

As far as the places employers can snoop, Cole says it's pretty straight-forward. 

"They can use anything that's in the general public domain to inquire about a candidate's social media background." 

Cole says one person in the company should be designated to conduct the social media reviews, like a human resources representative, to ensure a uniform policy.

There's also a key to the timing of that social media check, he says.

"That should be done after the first interview. You don't want to come into any pitfalls or allegations of discrimination, so wait until after the interview," Cole said.  

When discussing social media with a candidate, Cole says employers should also keep the questions general and avoid asking for specific passwords or private account information. 

If there is a red flag when it comes to a candidate's internet habits, Cole says the employer should be willing to have a conversation with that person. 

"A lot of times, someone might have a lapse of judgment, for example. A lot of times social media accounts can be hacked, so it's the best practice to go to the source, talk to that employee first and when in doubt, consult a labor employment attorney." 

And when people finally do land their dream job, they should especially be aware of their internet habits when they're not using a personal device, according to Cole. 

"There's a federal law that allows employers -- and we recommend that our employers have written policies --  that an employee has no expectation of privacy with respect to any computer or electronic device that they may use for a company's business purposes. So, all employees should be careful about what they're doing on company equipment because again, that's fair game for any employer to look at."