When I test drive a vehicle I would like to purchase, one of the critical factors I consider is my range of visibility when sitting in the driver’s seat. Are there any blind spots? Sometimes the blind spots are minimal and can be compensated by using the rear camera, side mirror, lane sensors, and some of the newest vehicles even have 360 degrees of visibility for parking awareness.
If I know what the blind spots are and believe I can overcome them, and if all the other factors (style, color, comfort, etc.) align, I likely will purchase the vehicle. However, if there are too many blind spots that even all the added technology cannot mitigate. There, I’m likely to pass on that vehicle because I simply don’t want to risk injury to myself, my family, and others due to the blind spots.
What does this analogy have to do with Social Media Screening? Well, a lot. Social Media screening emerged about five years ago to help resolve the blind spots in the candidate vetting process. It became one of the new technologies to help minimize the blind spot of social media when screening candidates, just as the now normative background checks had done years earlier when the need emerged to evaluate motor vehicle, criminal, financial, legal, employment and education records.
The emphasis on social media screening helps minimize the risk of hiring employees whose social media posts contain offensive, violent, hateful, threatening, sexually explicit text, images, or videos. This made sense as organizations want to minimize social media blind spots and the risk of hiring someone only to discover social media posts that violate their employee code of conduct expectations and result in termination.
As much as automotive engineers attempt to eliminate many blind spots, they will always happen, whether in design or due to driver limitations. Each new model faces its own challenges of blind spots, as does the candidate vetting process. Once you solve for one, another emerges. When discovered that candidates provided false or inaccurate information on their resumes, the need for accurate and third-party verification was needed. When new employees’ social media posts were deemed inappropriate, social media screening was needed. Each solution minimized or eliminated the blind spots in the candidate vetting process.
One of the critical, although subjective, factors in the hiring process is institutional fit. In this context, institutional fit means: the potential employee knows, appreciates, supports, and understands the role, philosophy, and mission of the organization where they are seeking employment. The question of fit can often be determined by performing diligent reference checks, and unfortunately, that is not always the case.
An Example Blindspot
Recently, an article in the Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) reported a recent hire in the University of Louisville Athletic Department resigned after only one month on the job because of previous social media posts. The problematic social media posts were derogatory to the University of Louisville and its athletic programs. The individual had grown up a University of Kentucky Wildcat fan who graduated at the in-state rival to his new employer. Working for an athletic or institutional rival is very common in higher education athletics, academics, and administration. However, making disparaging remarks about those rivals and competing institutions and then working for them is not. Here is a link to the article - https://www.courier-journal.com/story/sports/college/louisville/2021/09/29/university-louisville-employee-critiqued-school-old-posts-quits/5920001001/.
The “blind spot” for the University of Louisville Athletic Department was they could not have imagined that someone who wanted to work in the program would have made such comments. They incorrectly believed social media screening for the position wasn’t necessary, even for graduates from their rival, the University of Kentucky. No one thinks graduating from a rival school should disqualify a candidate.
Unfortunately, there were enough of this individual’s “friends” and “connections” on social media who knew precisely how the person felt about their alma maters rival. They shared these publicly available sentiments with the UofL Athletic Department.
Even though organizations and institutions continue to discover blind spots during the early vetting and social media screening of candidates, new blind spots continue to materialize. Validating those potential employees have not made derogatory, and disparaging comments about their possible new affiliation is now a blind spot that must be mitigated. In addition, let’s identify another blind spot; has this potential employee made derogatory and disparaging remarks about any of the organization’s clients, stakeholders, or benefactors? Will these posts be discovered during screening?
Growing up, living away, and returning to live again in Alabama, I can understand the passion fans and alumni exhibit with rivals such as Alabama and Auburn. I also lived in the Commonwealth of Kentucky for 18 years and know the fans and alumni of Louisville and Kentucky are equally fervent.
What sometimes we forget, or cannot imagine, is that your future employment opportunities may be that rival you so feverishly disparaged. This is even true in the business and corporate sector, as one may never know when they might find themselves working for a competitor. Because of this, organizations and institutions have identified these new blind spots, and they will be screening potential candidates more thoroughly as they address the question of institutional fit.
As your organization seeks social media screening services, ensure they can provide the in-depth screening that identifies these factors and reduces the risk of hiring someone who does not believe in your nature, mission, and ideals.
Social media screening will continue to be a vital part of the candidate vetting, and over time, new blind spots will be discovered. Social media screening service providers must be adaptive to the ever-changing landscape of this process.