Article About Social Checks: The Global Recruiter (Issue 179)

ASIA PACIFIC FOCUS – Taufik Arief, director of People Search Indonesia and Asia director of NPA Worldwide and Noviyanti Setiyaningsih, commercial director of PT Alpha Integra Indonesia discuss cyber-vetting.

Social media is part of our life. On this media, like no other, people show their character, demonstrate behaviour and share their values. This must be important for employer. Instead of digging around secretly to find these attributes, the candidate now reveals themselves and users can easily capture the required information.

By doing employee background checks over their social media activities – also known as ‘cyber-vetting’, employers can see:

  1. Personal value of the candidate, in order to determine the alignment between it and corporate values.
  2. Talent’s social awareness and social management, as integral part of their Emotional Intelligence (EI). Despite the freedom of speach environment, can he or she understand the implication of what they say/comment in social media towards their social media networks? How do they respond or engage with inconvenient conversations? EI is very important in hiring, and social media activities are a good medium for observing this.
  3. Productivity. High frequency social media activities during business hours might jeopardise productivity. We might see how frequent someone tweeting, re-tweeting, posting, commenting during the working time. If you are the boss, and you see your non-performing staff heavily active in social media, what is your reaction?
  4. Someone representing their organisation – such as a business owner, CEO, director, public relation officer – might be perceived as the company’s ambassador. Whatever they say personally, might be considered as company’s policy or view. Sending wrong or inconvenient statements publicly might hurt the business, especially if your key customers, employees, investors or vendors feel offended.
  5. Talent’s integrity with their historical data, such as employment, school, community involvement, achievement and awards, and other attributes might need to verify or investigate further.
  6. Social media activities might indicate someone is involved with crime, a terrorist or extremist organisation which might ruin company reputation, endanger company assets, etc.

Cyber-vetting is increasingly performed by potential employers through the most widely used and busy platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other popular social media. If a candidate has been ever covered by press/media, that even will be easier to trace. At present time, everyone leaves a digital trail, available for observation and analysis.

Here are some tips when doing a social media background check:

  1. Define the objectives of the vetting process, and set the boundary of the investigation: is it to understand talent’s value, behaviour? Do we want to check the integrity of talent’s historical data? Or do we want to check whether the candidate is involved with extremism or criminal. Each objective might need different vetting process, platform and supporting tools.
  2. Therefore, collect all personal and professional information of the candidate. Information obtained from CV, interview and other references can be verified and investigated further from their social media. Actually simply by seeing their social media we can do a lot of investigation according to above stated objectives. Let us make some investigation samples as below:
  • We can verify talent’s communication style between during interview and through their Facebook.
  • If candidate received professional award, we can verify their Linkedin info with other website (public domain) or through off-line investigation too.
  • If your talents love to write professional blog, we can assess their mindset, intellectual capacity and personal values.
  • Does the talent indicate his involvement with extremism by seeing their posts, comment and their friends demography?
  • Linkedin recommendations might be indication from previous employers perceived the candidate works at the past.
  • Does the talent spend their work hours with massive social media activities not related with their job?
  1. Always combine information – findings in social media, other websites, further off line investigation, reference check and interviews should all be considered. We should have a positive mindset when we approach the candidate and avoid prejudice. When performing media background check, the result may often lead us to cognitive bias. This can lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment or illogical interpretation.
  2. As supporting tools, there are relevant search engines which provide information about candidate social media, connection and activities such as:,,,,,, and others. Those search engines offer free and paid services. Keep in mind some search engines only widely used and effective in certain regions or countries. In the future, we will see artificial intelligence (AI) performing this kind of activity, enabling us to know better about our talent in much easier ways.

Recruiters can learn to this vetting process with available tools. If this cannot be done internally, employers can use the services of screening companies, as they usually have the know how to conduct proper cyber-vetting. However it is done, employers should now be using social media screening, to ensure more quality candidates are hired.