August 09, 2011
The next time you apply for a job, it may require a social media background check. Do you know what this means? It means your future employer now has the capability to scour the web, searching out risqué photos and racial comments.
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission allowed a company called Social Intelligence to begin running background checks and searches for up to seven years worth of public files and data from social networks and websites. Social Intelligence also looks for other things like aggressive or violent acts or assertions, unlawful activity, discriminatory activity like racist statements and sexually explicit activity. Forbes.com posted a blog featuring screenshots of what your potential employers might see.
The company searches only what’s publicly available from social networking sites based on data you provide on your résumé like your name and email address. Just like a criminal or credit background check, a job applicant must acknowledge and approve the use of a social media screen.
These services actually make a lot of sense. A lot of employers already Google job candidates, but an outside party combing the Internet is safer and avoids unethical employment discrimination.
If you haven’t already, make every effort to find out what’s out there about you. Check and recheck the privacy settings on your social media accounts. Better yet, don’t post anything you wouldn’t want an employer to see. Just don’t wait until you make a mistake that costs you your job.