Background checks include screening of social networking accounts

pre-employment background checks have become a formality with most job applications. Job seekers know that potential employers may look into their employment history, education and perform a criminal record check to ensure they are honest and reliable individuals. What is not expected, yet is becoming more common, is to include social networking accounts in this screening. Organizations and businesses are delving into applicants online personas to find the right candidate for the job – screening facebook photos, reading over tweets or checking up on contributions to online forums. Be aware of what you post online, and remember – once something’s on the internet, it will always be on the internet!

As we’ve mentioned before, screening has been introduced to the online dating industry, and it seems that many organizations are heading in the same direction. In particular, the police industry is really starting to focus on social media accounts of applicants, requesting that candidates sign waivers allowing investigators access to their Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and other personal spaces. More than a third of police agencies review applicants’ social media activity during background checks, and this number is only going to increase.

So what are the lessons to learn here? Well, a couple of years ago we all thought that these social networking accounts were a harmless bit of fun and we thought that our privacy settings protected us from repercussions. Now, we know different. Anything online is a representation of ourselves, regardless of whether you think only your “friends” can see it or not. Be careful how you portray yourself online and the identity you create for yourself, as it directly relates you offline, and this persona cannot be erased easily.

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