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Revisiting “Using social media for background checks”

Posted by Kathleen Smith

Earlier in the summer at the IDGA HR for Defense Summit, a question was raised about HR professionals using social media for background checks. We brought this discussion to our blog Inside the Net and other social communities such as GovLoop. Many insightful comments were generated. We could debate the merits of the subject endlessly. Is it ethical or not ethical? Is the information gained reliable? Is the information current? It’s best to assume that, rightly or wrongly, a recruiter may be using social media such as LinkedIn or Facebook as a form of reference checking.    

But what challenge does this present for security cleared job seekers? For more than two years now, there has been an ongoing debate whether professionals with security clearances should participate in social media or not. There are two very staunch camps. 

One says definitely no way, no how, should a person with a security clearance participate in any social media. From this standpoint, it’s difficult to reconcile that many within the intelligence community actively use social media tools to support their program activities; that more and more agencies are deploying social media tools; and that social media has become mainstream as a way of communicating, even surpassing email as a communication tool.

The other camp says yes, do participate in social media to establish a profile which you control and monitor wisely. 

As more security cleared job seekers pursue new careers they will need to embrace some of these social media tools to support their career search, because recruiters are using more of these tools to carefully screen candidates. Many companies are now reaching out to job seekers through LinkedIn, Facebook and other social communities, and the value gained from the networking and researching tools available through social media will make a candidate’s job search much more effective.

The bottom line is that a job seeker can control the information they share about themselves online, utilizing the same awareness that they use in offline circumstances. By leveraging these media channels effectively, social media can be tremendous advantage in your job search.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 10:00 am

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