Media Screening Can Help to Avoid Brand Damage Through a Bad Hire

Kean University's president
Kean University’s president

We are all familiar with the story of the Yahoo CEO who took on his role in early 2012, only to be dismissed when stories arose that he padded his resume with an embellished college degree.

Many executive screening packages only look at qualifications, work history, education, and public records, that can result in “misses” like the one above.

To help develop the “big picture,” many companies are looking to add media screening when hiring at the executive level. Media screening is a comprehensive search through various databases to access thousands of news sources including newspapers, trade publications, professional journals, articles, transcripts, and numerous others. The results of this search can include award nominations and other achievements by the applicant, and community and industry association involvement, business and job disputes, references to criminal activity, or other potentially negative information.

Is Media Screening the Same as Social Media Screening?

The simple answer is no.

Media screening practices go beyond what the potential employee shares with you during the interview but don’t cross the line into the “personal” aspect of social media checks.

Media screening pulls back all results from published items and periodicals that include the individual’s name and other defined criteria. This part of the screening process can help you see the kind of person you are hiring beyond the office setting. This executive has the potential to help or harm your brand.

Recently, Kean University President Dawood Farahi was questioned on the validity of his resume after he claimed he had written about various topics for peer-reviewed journals. However, those written pieces were never seen. Upon further investigation, other inconsistencies in his resume were brought to light.

Media searches can complement your background screening efforts by providing information about incidents or investigations that may not be reflected in official records. Has the individual been unfavorably portrayed in the news? Are they involved with an organization that has a conflict of interest with your company?

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Media screens also highlight the positives about an individual that might not come through in the interview process. Are they a volunteer? Have they taken part in speaking engagements? Are they a thought leader in the industry on a specific topic?

Social media screening is a controversial topic; however, some companies are still using this method as part of their total vetting process. Social networks provide employers with more information about job candidates than most hiring managers wish to take on. Sorting through the true and false of a personal social media profile can become a job task all on its own. There is always the possibility of same names and false identities. The same issues apply to a basic Google search.

Employers may want to give more weight to information that has been “published” versus what has been “posted.”

Is Media Screening Reliable?

Broadening your screening for executives is essential to making a good hiring decision. Media screening is just one part of the bigger picture, including litigation screening, corporate affiliation searches, bankruptcy records, and even tax liens.

Many companies do not know they have these additional screening features available to them, but these extra searches could be a brand differentiator. You are hiring a person, not just a skill set. The information that has been provided by or about your executive candidate and media screening can be a reliable, thorough, and efficient way to know how your candidate has been portrayed and what issues or subjects they have been attached to.

Jeff Wizceb is the vice president of business development and account management for HR Plus. HR Plus offers comprehensive solutions for employment and background screening needs though a secure and easy-to-navigate web interface that can be customized to meet clients' needs and integrated into most human resources workflows. Core services include background screening, drug testing, and fingerprinting. For more than 40 years, HR Plus has provided thousands of clients with quality background screening solutions.


6 Comments on “Media Screening Can Help to Avoid Brand Damage Through a Bad Hire

  1. There are emerging automated tools out there to address this issue for recruiters. For disclosure, like the Social Resume we represent at CrewRevu, that automates the manual screening, includes one click candidate approval (alot of information is hidden if you not a ‘friend’ and we solve this) and importantly does not expose viewers of social media profiles to discriminatory datapoints (eg sexual preferences, illness etc). Hopefully this has been helpful.

  2. Jeff – this is a really enjoyable, smart article and highlights an interesting bridge. Deep expert recruiters have been doing media screening for years – but they’ve been doing it primarily to develop their candidate pipelines.

    Your article suggests formally incorporating the media profile into the overall candidate picture. An excellent idea. I think it fits well when organizations look to truly partner with recruiting (internal or external) and focus on quality of search effort over quantity. But then, every organization does that, right?

    Kevin – your comment missed a key point (made in big bold text), that this is NOT about social network screening. Unfortunately, your comment is a thinly veiled attempt to advertise your service.

  3. Todd – thanks for this. Your comment on positioning our service is quite correct and I noted ‘for disclosure’ in my comment. You quite correct, the article in the middle draws the distinction on media screening practices and how this differs to the personal aspect of social media check – it is in this positioning that my interest lay and commentary.

  4. Thanks, Jeff. This seems like a higher-level of due diligence. Who will perform it? If this comes up frequently (as with a large, growing firm), it might be cost-effective to keep a trained investigator on retainer or hire to handle this sort of thing.



  5. Keith- Jeff rightly makes a distinction between media searches and social media screening. Long before social media, organizations relied on firms like Jeff’s (HR Plus), Kroll, and others in the background screening industry to provide media searches on high profile, executive level employees, BOD candidates and other advisors, investors, etc. where greater due diligence should be exercised. (full disclosure: I was a VP with Kroll and Director with Social Intelligence)

    That said, the lines between social media information and the media search examples provided are becoming blurred. For example, how are an executive’s blog posts – whether on a personal, company, or industry blog, or perhaps as a LinkedIn thought leader – different or less relevant today than bylined articles, quotes, or other references to the person in “newspapers, trade publications, professional journals,” etc.? Some would apply the same argument to tweets, FB posts, and other social media, but that’s a whole other article.

  6. Thank you, David and Jeff. It’s been my experience that background checks have always been sent out to firms such as Jeff’s.


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