By Blair Crawford
Many people are speculating that social media background checks are going to be the new future for employment checks. At the present time, they are allowed, although the actual legality of this practice is in debate. But because employers have the option of performing this, does that mean they should? Is it ethical and does it truly reflect upon a person’s ability to perform their job responsibilities, especially in the medical field; more specifically nursing?
There are benefits to social media background checks. It allows employers or job recruiters to find out information that is not available on a traditional background check. For instance, in nursing, it would allow a potential employer to see if this person has discussed prior patients or their employer of the past. They can see if any hospital policy was talked about and therefore violated. But this isn’t an efficient means of determining the eligibility of a potential employee, as information obtained via these methods may not be used in this determining employment eligibility.
Another benefit that is not seen on a traditional background check is a person’s personality and character. They can use social media to determine if that particular person’s character would be a good match for their company. The drawback is that how people act in a social setting may be very different than how they act in a professional setting. A person applying to be a nurse may be extremely professional and highly skilled at their job. But on social media sights they may let loose a little, or have pictures posted of them at a bar. This does not mean that it would affect their nursing ability, but it would cast a shadow of doubt to a potential employer.
A major drawback for people in human resources management is holding this type of information against someone could open the company up for a lawsuit. Also, there are potential discrimination laws that may arise.
Many hospitals have specific standards when it comes to social media and these are outlined in a very specific manner. The practice of discussing hospital policy and patient care are forbidden. Obviously who is in the hospital or what they have gone to the doctor for are absolutely not to be talked about. It violates privacy laws and HIPAA laws and will be grounds for termination.
The issue of looking up someone’s personal information on social media sites simply because you can is going to explode into a major issue that laws are going to be developed over. Some are already in progress. The bottom line is this: set security settings on your media accounts and be careful what you put online. Once it’s online, it cannot be taken back.
Blair Crawford is an emerging marketing and social media talent valuing innovation, hard work, and a relentless approach to creating value for clients and stakeholders. She can be reached on Twitter at @blair_crawford.