How Social Background Checks Preserve Work Culture

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Every employer wants to provide a safe, supportive environment where people can do their best work. That’s a key reason why social background checks have become so popular. But many organizations don’t talk openly about how they make this happen.

I get it. This can be tricky to manage. But workforce wellbeing and your brand reputation are on the line. So, it’s wise to include a strong social media screening solution in your HR toolkit.

What kind of services are leading the way? And what should you consider when seeking a provider you can trust? Join me as I explore these questions on the latest #WorkTrends podcast episode.


Meet Our Guest:  Ben Mones

Today, I’m speaking with Ben Mones, Founder and CEO of, the world’s largest provider of social background checks, and a leader in applying artificial intelligence technology in workforce screening services. As an expert in this process, Ben is an excellent source of advice for HR practitioners and business leaders.

Linking Culture With Social Background Checks

Ben, welcome! Let’s dive right in. How do you see social background checks tying into the employee experience?

Too often, employers don’t talk about background screening because they think it’s a “dirty” job at the front of the candidate funnel or during the onboarding process.

But that’s not what we do. We look at publicly available online records to detect behavioral patterns associated with intolerance or harassment. We look at things that, if left unchecked, could find their way into a company culture and create some damage.

Remote Work Raises the Stakes

Many of us work virtually now, so the stakes are higher. I mean, how are we getting to know people?

Agree. We often meet our coworkers by friending them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, or exchanging DMs on Instagram. So, if we’re interacting in these digital spaces, the importance of digital identity naturally follows.

Digital Screening Adoption Rate

How many companies are screening candidates or employees?

CareerBuilder and SHRM say 70% of employers perform some sort of social media or online profile check before bringing people on board. For example, they may be Googling someone before hiring them.

Risks of Social Background Checks

Compliance is a big concern with this process. What are the risks?

I think the risks of doing it yourself scare people away.

For example, you could be exposed to things you shouldn’t see. If a recruiter does this internally, they’ll see a person’s gender, ethnicity, pregnancy. You’ll see all these protected classes.

EEO says you can’t unring that bell. You can’t unsee that information. So because bias naturally occurs within all of us, you consider these sorts of things in your hiring process.

Avoiding Compliance Pitfalls

How can employers deal with these risks?

Managing the process through a third party helps squash those risks because you can configure the solution to filter only for job-relevant information.

This means you’re blind to all the protected class information you’d see if you were conducting social background checks on your own.

Key Screening Factors

What core behaviors do you look for in social screening? 

Here’s what we don’t do. We don’t do a yes/no recommendation on a person. Instead, think of flags for things like intolerance, threats, harassment, violence, crime and drugs.


For more advice from Ben, listen to the full podcast. And for detailed information about how your organization can benefit from social background screening, visit the website, where you’ll find benchmarking reports and other resources for employers.

Also, be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And to continue this conversation on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Passive To Active In Less Than 90 Seconds

Yes, you do it, too. Don’t deny it.

When you’re gainfully employed, happily or not so, and you actually make the time to update your LinkedIn profile, for whatever reason, you uncheck the box in your account settings that reads:

Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies.

LinkedIn even adds a footnote for you that calls out why you would uncheck the box:

Note: You may want to turn this option off if you’re looking for a job and don’t want your present employer to see that you’re updating your profile.

There you go. Sure there are valid reasons as to why you’re updating your profile that don’t relate to job seeking. Maybe you received a new certification, or you want to list a recent volunteer stint.

And the converse value of wanting to be found online, having a peer-vetted public profile, is the fact that is it public and you can be found when you don’t really want to be. Again and again I’ve heard from sought-after professionals who get hit on more often via LinkedIn than at a hip new nightclub.

“Hey, do you come here often?”

So they don’t update their profile. Or they mask it with false information. Or then pull it down completely.

But mercy me if you’re socially savvy and know how leverage the Wild West Interwebs and have pivotal skills companies need and don’t call yourself a thought leader while others do, you’ve got to pull down a lot more than the LinkedIn profile if you don’t want to be riddled with spray-and-pray pitch pellets from virtual sawed-off shotguns.

And if you haven’t done it already, social profiling sites like Entelo and TalentBin have most likely already aggregated all your online exhaust and profiled you for the big game hunters. We make ourselves big ol’ targets with our data – created by us and distributed by us – some clean, vetted and valid, and much of it not so much.

Plus, according to 2013 Candidate Experience Award data, “active” candidates are clearly using a few sites quite extensively in their job search activities, which means we’re quite visible on them including (of course) LinkedIn (55%), Glassdoor (21%), Google+ (17%) and Facebook (14%) – all of which were probably underreported and will surely to spike higher in the 2014 CandE data.

But the operative word above is “active,” and during a recent conversation with a PeopleFluent colleague, a long-time recruiting and ATS veteran who works everyday with large global talent acquisition teams, he scoffed at the proverbial “passive” candidate myth.

“Passive, schmassive.”

Okay, he didn’t actually say that, I did, but you get the idea. That’s when we talked shop around the public profile conundrum outlined above, especially for those who don’t want to be found.

Invisible is not the same thing as passive. People are either looking for jobs or they’re not; they either want to be found, or not.

And that’s when the visceral snap of a simple epiphany hit me right between the eyes. Bryan Chaney, sourcing executive at IBM, told us on the TalentCulture #TChat Show “the difference between a passive and active candidate can be less than 90 seconds.”

Damn straight. Less than 90 seconds, which is why we need:

  • Relevant Content. Happy or unhappy, opportunity in the form of smarter and engaging content and storytelling, personable and professional, can remove even the most elusive engineer’s invisibility cloak. In fact, after Bryan conducted a 90-day case study on social media content, conversation-based content increased response rates by 54%. Stories rock and that’s immersive marketing 101 these days anyway.
  • Makes for Relevant Conversations. Savvy marketers can and should educate recruiters and sourcers how to engage prospects in real conversations. Whether it’s on a forum, user group, blog, simple email or any social network, or the old-fashioned phone call or at a live event, the relevant conversation should always be the goal.

Not easy to do when you’re a global company dealing with hundreds of applicants per open req and hundreds of thousands per year, but the recruiters who hit their marks always know their market and the talent they’re targeting. Recruiting (and marketing) are only human and all about relationships and the tipping points of interest can come in a [enter city here] minute.

Passive schmassive indeed. Wait, you can’t really see me, can you?