Background Check Expert Attorney Lester Rosen Explains Social Media Screening at 2017 SHRM Talent Management Conference


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), “presented how to successfully use social media for recruiting or background screening” at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2017 Talent Management Conference and Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, according to a Workforce Magazine article about Rosen’s presentation.

“Social media allows employers to look under the hood to who a candidate really is,” said Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ and a frequent speaker on due diligence issues at conferences nationwide. “But if you use it incorrectly, there’s a world of privacy and discrimination problems that could arise.” Rosen made three presentations during the SHRM conference that took place from April 24 to 26, 2017.

“Social media should not be a tool that allows you to stop someone from getting to the interview stage because you found information that’s not a valid predictor of job performance,” Rosen told the SHRM audience. He also said employers need to be aware of Too Much Information (TMI) with social media or they may “become knowledgeable of factors that should not be considered for employment purposes.”

A survey released by SHRM in 2016 – ‘Using Social Media for Talent Acquisition—Recruitment and Screening’ (PDF) – found 56 percent of organizations said online profiles of job candidates could not indicate work-related performance. Also, 84 percent of organizations used social media to recruit candidates, and 82 percent of those firms said the top reason was to recruit passive job candidates.

“Recruiters looking for passive candidates look for positive attributes, while HR looks for the negative,” said Rosen. The SHRM survey also revealed more than one-third – 36 percent – of organizations rejected a job candidate in 2015 because of “concerning information” such as “illegal activity or discrepancy with applications found on a social media or online searches,” according to the Workforce Magazine article.

“Firms can be at risk for discrimination claims for ‘failure to hire’ in sourcing, even if a person is passed over and they don’t even know it. Establish standard practices to show decisions are made on an objective basis using metrics,” said Rosen, who recommended organizations clearly state the essential functions in job descriptions and have a clear policy and documented training in discrimination.

Rosen suggested employers perform social media background checks through a third party provider behind an “ethics wall” since these providers do not make the hiring decisions and only provide job related data to decision makers after a job offer. He also explained why automated key word searches of a job candidate’s profile can be ineffective: “The problem with key words is its all context,” he said.

“There is less risk for HR professionals if Internet searches are done pursuant to a written consent and after a conditional job offer has been made,” said Rosen. “Social media is growing as a tool for recruiting and sourcing, as long as you use it wisely.” The complete article from Workforce Magazine is available online at

Rosen has also written a whitepaper – “Ten Potential Dangers When Using Social Media Background Checks” – to provide an informative introduction for both employers and recruiters using social media screening, the possible legal risks faced, and potential solutions to legal issues. The complimentary whitepaper is available at

ESR and Fama to Present Webinar on Social Media Background Checks

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) will present a live webinar entitled “Top 5 Best Practices for Social Media Background Checks” hosted by Ben Mones, CEO and Founder of leading social media screening provider Fama, on Thursday, May 18, 2017, from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM PDT. To register for this event, please visit

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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