A Guide to Social Media Searches: The Dos and Don’ts

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

April 6 2022

A candidate’s behavior on social media platforms is a crucial piece of the puzzle when deciding whether they are the right fit for your company. People can put their best foot forward on their resumes and in interviews yet present themselves differently on the internet. This could quickly turn a candidate into a liability for your company. Luckily, a social media search helps your company determine warning signs that may impact a hiring decision. Before you dive into social media searches, however, you want to ensure you are performing them in the correct way to avoid potential legal trouble.

To help employers uncover what social media searches may reveal about candidates and how to best perform them, we asked hiring managers and business leaders for their insights. With the help of our featured industry experts, we built this comprehensive guide that covers the basics of social media searches. Read on to discover what should and should not be revealed when checking a candidate’s social media platforms.


Investigate Whether They’re Spewing Hate

You can use social media to see whether a candidate is involved in any hate groups or uses racist language. Recruiters are regularly involving themselves in online investigations these days. For this reason, candidates should make sure they’re casting themselves in the best light on social media. Sometimes social media can make or break a candidate’s success in finding a job.

Phillip Akhzar


Workplace safety is vital to your company’s health, and that safety can be threatened by hiring violent or hateful employees. Often, the warning signs of these safety concerns can be found via social media. A social media search scans a candidate’s profiles and reveals any posts that may contain racist, sexist, or violent language, as well as any hate groups or pages that the candidate may be affiliated with. If the search is properly and thoroughly run, it will check for adverse behavior across the internet rather than on a short-list of the most popular sites. With this added layer of protection, you can rest easy, knowing that the people you hire will not be harming your company’s reputation with hate speech on any one of the many internet platforms out there.


Look for Key Red Flags

An interview may only reveal certain traits of a candidate. A background check may reveal a few more insights. But on social media, where people are usually more of themselves and seldom pay heed to who’s watching and who isn’t, a person reveals more than ever. It shows you how social the person is and any potential red flags.
Eva Taylor

WP Buffs

Some people show warning signs that they could potentially face legal trouble via social media. A candidate could have many red flags that threaten your company’s brand and data security, including sexually explicit behavior or involvement in illegal activities. When performing social media searches on a candidate, you want to make sure the service you use is getting the whole picture by scanning for these red flags.

At InfoMart, our social media searches look across all available internet profiles and scan for any posts containing sexually explicit or illegal behavior in the past seven years. Now, even if a candidate’s initial background check comes out clean, you will have an extra layer of protection. This ensures there are no warning signs of sexual harassment, drug use, or any other threatening activities that may harm your company’s reputation or get your company entangled in lawsuits.


Expose Yourself to Sensitive Information

It is not against the law to look at a candidate’s social media profiles. However, if you use what you find in your hiring decision, you may get into legal trouble. Many candidates will publish their LinkedIn profile with the assumption that it will be reviewed by an employer. A specific website exhibiting a candidate’s work or online portfolio may also be listed.

If you dig deeper into other social media sources, you can learn about the candidate’s race, sexual orientation, familial origins, causes they support, age, and a long list of other data pieces that are protected under the law when making employment decisions. Proceed with caution or, better yet, avoid doing it altogether by getting a trusted third party to perform the check for you.

Dari DeSousa

DeSousa Professional HR Group

Social media searches are an asset to your company when executed properly. They offer extra information beyond the resume and standard background check that will help your company make safer hiring decisions. However, social media searches can also open your company up to legal trouble if done the wrong way. Many companies are unaware of this and continue to run social media searches on their own in-house, which makes it essential to educate businesses on the topic.

For example, it is a federal crime to go against any social media platform’s terms and conditions, so employer’s have restricted permissions to data. Moreover, it is illegal to discriminate against a candidate based on their race, gender, age, religion, origin, and more when making an employment decision, and employers can subconsciously discriminate on this protected information when they find it on the internet. This makes it crucial that compliance is a top priority for your company when performing social media searches. Since your company likely does not have the time to investigate all the mandates surrounding social media background checks, it is wise to go through a trusted third party that will do the work for you. Read more about the legality of social media searches here.

Get an added layer of protection from social media searches by working with a reputable third party. At InfoMart, our expert FCRA-certified compliance team monitors compliance changes and makes proactive updates to our technology and processes. This ensures you’re getting the most out of your search while upholding the law. With our professional social media searches, we will alert you to any red flags you need to know about without giving you information that could tarnish the integrity of your employment decisions. We offer tailored social media search solutions that best fit your company’s needs. Learn more about the InfoMart advantage today.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record.

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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