When you hire people to work with your company’s data, whether it’s on the computer or in a filing cabinet, you’re giving them access to sensitive information. You may not realize how easy it is for employees to wander into areas they’re not authorized to view. People get curious. Not everyone will be a threat to your business, but some might be. Unless you’re willing to do some research, you may find out the hard way.
The top three ways employers investigate candidates and new employees is through researching their contact numbers, screening social media profiles, and running background checks.
1. Perform a reverse cell phone number lookup
It doesn’t hurt to do a little investigating into who your new employees are. Every method you use will give you different pieces of the puzzle. Start by researching their contact numbers provided on their application or resume.
A reverse cell phone number lookup is easy and won’t take much of your time. You can find out all kinds of information about an employee or potential employee, including:
- The phone number’s location
- Whether it’s a mobile or landline
- The owner’s full name
- The owner’s address history
- The owner’s relatives
- Whether the number has been flagged for spam
This is the first step in your investigation. The next step gets a little more serious.
2. Check out their social media accounts – with caution
In 2017, 70% of employers admitted to screening candidates by looking at their social media profiles. Three in ten employers have a dedicated position for researching a candidate’s online presence. So, what are employers looking for? According to Career Builder, they’re looking for:
- Evidence of the candidate’s qualifications for the job
- The existence of a professional online persona
- What other people are saying about the candidate online
- Any reason to not hire the candidate
It makes sense to at least check out a candidate’s social media presence. It even makes sense to check out the profiles of your existing employees. You don’t want to hire someone who publicly admits to faking illness to get a day off work. You also don’t want to hire someone who can’t stop bragging about how drunk they get on the weekends. The danger is that if you make a hiring decision (or a decision to fire someone) based on what you see on social media, you open the door for a discrimination lawsuit. First, you can’t verify the information you read is true. Second, you don’t want to consider the wrong information.
Social media screening needs to be done with extreme caution
By browsing a person’s profile, you’re going to pick up information that can’t be used for the basis of making a hiring decision. For example, a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, and citizen status are protected characteristics that can’t legally factor into your hiring decision. If someone feels like they weren’t hired because of a protected characteristic you discovered on Facebook, they have a legal right to file a discrimination lawsuit against you, and they’ll probably win.
A discrimination case after an employer checks a person’s social media presence isn’t hard to win. Les Rosen, founder and CEO of a background screening firm says, “once the employer has become aware of a candidate’s protected characteristics, it is difficult to prove that the information was not considered in the hiring decision.”
To avoid a lawsuit, Rosen says you need “objective, consistent and documented procedures to demonstrate information found online is a valid predictor of job performance and [is] used fairly.”
This means you need an actual documented procedure for your social media screening practices. Rosen recommends getting consent from the applicant first, then screening only after you’ve made the job offer. Landing the job would be contingent upon completing the check.
3. Background checks
It costs money to run a background check on someone, but it’s always worth the expense. Consider the cost an investment in the success and integrity of your business.
Make sure you follow the law when running background checks. All background screening firms are bound by the Fair Credit Reporting Act rules. Make sure the firm you use has been vetted and approved.
Allow your employees to have a life
You may not like knowing your new employee cracks open a beer at the end of the day, but does that make them a bad worker? Be cautious about writing off new employees because they enjoy a little alcohol or like to be silly with their friends. If they are truly a red flag, it will be more than obvious.