The rise of the internet and, more recently, the proliferation of social media platforms has put a wealth of information about current employees and potential new recruits at your fingertips. Increasingly, it’s a source of information that employers are turning to more frequently as part of their background screening activities. It’s also a source that needs to be handled sensitively with debates still ongoing about how best to use some of the results it generates.
Traditional media still features within this sub-set of background screening. With an archive going back more than 20 years, we’re able to search press articles from over 20,000 local and foreign news sources. These include all major newswires, newspapers and magazines as well as trade media and specialised industry publications. Such a search can look for negative publicity associated with an individual or evidence of illegal activity or can simply be used to authenticate elements of their work history, whether they’ve chosen to declare these or not.
A broader internet search follows the same pattern. It uses an individual’s current name and key words from their CV to look for information on them in more than 1000 search engines. Those include search engines able to search the invisible web (also known as the deep or hidden web); the deeper recesses of the internet that most mainstream search engines, for various reasons, don’t list in their results. Again, this checks for adverse stories or connections that may be of interest to you as a potential employer.
With social media checks, there is the added element of establishing whether someone’s social media activity could damage your brand, reputation or client relationships. It’s about highlighting undesirable personal characteristics as much as it’s about negative publicity or checking someone’s work history. In a more positive vein however, such checks may also unearth positive character attributes – such as a willingness to get involved in charitable or volunteering work – which an individual was either too modest to mention or didn’t feel was relevant.
With all media searches, there is the possibility of configuring the search to look for something very specific that an employer wants to be aware of. Checking whether someone has a history of animal rights activism is one such example, or close relationships with any sort of political activist group. Rather than revealing anything and everything that might be of interest about an individual across traditional media, social media and the internet, such a search will focus very tightly on just this one area of special interest.