Pre-Employment checks are becoming increasingly common in all sectors of employment. Employers will look at a range of factors, and checks will vary between organisations. For an entry-level position, employers may just carry out the basics of a Right to Work check, to make sure they aren’t employing anyone illegally. For senior positions in other organisations, the checks may be extensive and include credit checks, enhanced disclosure or DBS checks, formal reference checking and fact-checking of CVs. One of the most common checks carried out is a social media search – it’s free to look at someone’s social media profile and may give a good indication of their personality and what they get up to in their spare time.

Recent surveys indicate that 79% of recruiters look at a candidate’s Facebook profile when deciding who to hire or interview. LinkedIn or Twitter are looked at by around half of employers, with fewer looking at Instagram or Tik Tok. Around half of all UK employers are actively scanning social media feeds when recruiting, so what sorts of things could be affecting your chances if you are applying for a new position?


Negatives on Social Media

Employers aren’t interested in pictures of your kids, or whether you’ve shared the latest meme about a grumpy cat. Social media scanning isn’t about being nosy; it’s about looking for “red flags” which may raise concerns about your suitability for the position, or lead to concerns that you might do something which could bring the company into disrepute. The main “red flags” employers are looking for are:

  • Drug use or excessive alcohol use – if you’re out getting very drunk with your friends every night, or posting about working with a dreadful hangover, this might put employers off hiring you.
  • Racist, sexist, or homophobic comments, or sharing offensive posts by other people
  • Posts complaining or “badmouthing” previous or current employers
  • Swearing, or aggressive behaviour towards other users on the social media platform
  • Side hustles – every employer wants to think that you are spending all of your work time working, not promoting your own business on their time.


Social Media and DBS Checks

The law has been slow to catch up with the development of social media but there are now laws which can see people prosecuted for threatening, racist or homophobic behaviour on social media. These are criminal offences just like any others and can show up on a disclosure check (DBS check) if the position requires it.


Managing a Social Media Check

The obvious advice to anyone concerned about employers scrolling through their social media feed is to never post anything which could cause a problem in the future. Go through your profiles and delete anything you wish you hadn’t posted, and then use the security settings to increase privacy levels to make sure that only verified friends can see your feed, especially on sites such as Facebook. Many experts recommend the “grandmother test” – if you’re happy to share what you’re posting with your granny, it’s fine. Otherwise, think twice about adding it to your public feed.