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Conducting criminal background checks have been long standing practices of human resources departments. In a 2012 analysis from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), approximately two-thirds of organizations surveyed reported they conduct criminal background checks on all of their job candidates. However, new technologies such as social media and search engines provide hiring manager new ways to gather information on candidates.
Due to rise and popularity of social media, there has been an increase in formal and informal workplace policies regarding the use of online tools, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to screen job candidates. According to a 2011 SHRM report, “In 2008, 72% of organizations had no formal or informal policies on the use of these sites for candidate screening. Today, this figure has dropped to 56%. In addition, 29% of organizations plan to implement a formal policy in the next 12 months, up from 11% in 2008.”
While many companies use social media tools to screen for applicants, there are those that do not and for a variety of reasons. First, many acknowledge that not all applicants actively participate in online social networks, such as LinkedIn or Twitter. Second, there are legal risks and concerns, such as identifying information about a candidate’s race, gender, or age. Third, many organizations realize the information they find online might not be relevant to the actual position and may not indicate if the applicant would be a good fit.