Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tips & Tricks: Three Simple Ways to Keep Up With Social Media Trends

A few weeks ago, we wrote about maximizing your training experience. Part of that discussion covered the need for individuals to look for free sources of information. When you are looking to expand or narrow the scope of your open source Internet-based intelligence and investigations solutions, there are three main open sources you can use to help you make those decisions: social media content, blogs and news sources, and research.

Social Media Content

As social media content has become an integral part of online research, it becomes increasingly important to stay abreast of social media trends. One quick way to identify new sources of information is to look in content feeds. Many social media sites and applications connect with one another to push and pull data. As an example, we can use a Twitter feed. On Twitter, many people push Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, Tumblr, and Vine posts into their Twitter feeds. By watching these sources of information, you can easily identify new social media sites to incorporate into your investigations.

Blogs and News Sources

Often, blog and news-based content are some of the first places to see emerging trends in social media use. The best way to organize the influx of data is to be selective about the sources you use and to use an RSS reader like Feedly. Feedly allows users to subscribe to any written source with an RSS feed and to organize these sources into categories. When building out your reader, adding investigation, intelligence, and technology sources are greatly beneficial to keeping abreast of emerging trends. This information will not only help you identify new sources of information, it will also help you understand which types of individuals are using the technology and how they are using it.


Similar to blogs and news sites, many research entities discuss the changes in the social media landscape. A major issue is that most research is scholarly in nature and costs money to access. However, there are two free research sources that provide excellent data: Pew Research Center and Nielsen. Both organizations study changes in technology usage and social media trends and release reports on a routine basis. You can even add their RSS feeds to your RSS reader. By keeping up with their findings, you can stay on pace with changes in society at large.

In the dynamic social media environment, investigators and analysts cannot afford to fall behind. By using these three sources, you can easily cultivate basic knowledge of the changing social media landscape. This allows you to update your practices, improve research and analysis, and add value for clients.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cut Bad Hire Costs Using Employee Vetting

Hiring a new member of any team is no easy task. Every company sinks thousands of dollars into each new employee via hiring costs, wages, and training. However, not every employee ends up being the right fit for the job, resulting in a bad hire. According to a December 2012 CareerBuilder survey, these bad hires can cause the company many different issues ranging from poor work quality to workplace turmoil to customer dissatisfaction. Ensuring the individual is a right fit for the organization before bringing them in is essential to prevent both bad hiring costs and hires’ remorse.

Recently, we began writing pieces about employee vetting processes. First we wrote about The Importance of Employee Vetting from a security and image perspective. Then we wrote about The Importance Social Media Policies in the entire employment process from background checks to continuous evaluation. Now we’re going to tackle the issue of cutting your number of bad hires by enhancing your hiring process.

Calculating the Cost of a Bad Hire

To get a basic idea of how much a bad hire can financially cost your company, you can use ADP’s Bad Hire Calculator. Considering the data sources used to compile this tool are approximately 10 years old, the costs of bad hires have likely risen since the formula was created. However, these direct financial costs connected to the hiring process are not the only costs companies pay when they make a bad hire.

One major downside to a bad hire is the negative impact it has on the organization as a whole. Managers report that bad hires ultimately bring a negative influence to the business, cause a decrease in employee morale, and waste managers’ time with unnecessary supervision. When bad hires are let go, it also leaves vacancies in the company which burden the current staff with an extra workload and potentially result in lost opportunities during the replacement hiring cycle.

The Bad Hire Solution: Enhanced Background Checks

When you consider that the costs of a bad hire are in the thousands of dollars, running additional pre-employment screening methods on advanced rounds of candidates is a wise investment. Many employers report they are rushing to hire candidates and lack the intelligence crucial to making wise hiring decisions. You can improve your company’s hiring process by gaining the intelligence you need by creating a comprehensive employee screening solution for your final candidates that will capture the intangibles necessary for the position. There are two main solutions you should consider when enhancing your pre-screening process:

Resume & Application Vetting – With the current state of the economy, employers report that resume fraud is a persistent issue. In order to ensure your candidate was truthful in their resume and on their application, you can vet applications and resumes using a variety of techniques spanning from reference calls to online investigations. Social media sites like LinkedIn can assist with confirming the timeline individuals present on their resume, and you can build networks of coworkers and classmates to demonstrate personal connections to institutions. Finding inconsistencies on resumes can help reduce the amount of candidates in the final rounds of the hiring process and provide crucial intelligence to making the right decision.

Incorporating Social Media Data – It can provide a wealth of information about a candidate’s personality, allowing you to access a rich set of personal information not contained on resumes or applications. Social media can provide you with an inside glimpse into the lives of individuals ranging from their technical ability to their general demeanor and outside interests. It can also give you valuable data about how individuals interact with others and handle adversity and conflict. This data can be crucial to ensuring you hire someone whose personality will mesh with your current staff and can assist with intelligence for your final round of interviews.

While additional screening methods do bring additional costs, if you only run these methods on serious candidates rather than rushing to a decision, you can actually save your company thousands of dollars in bad hiring costs.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Importance of Social Media Policies

Two days ago, a member of the team was browsing their Facebook feed and found a video of an acquaintance. This individual worked at a local restaurant, and the footage showed the individual and other members of the staff partying in the kitchen of the restaurant after hours. During the course of the video, employees were smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, and dancing to loud music. Within a few hours, the individual had removed the post and posted a status update lamenting about being pressured to remove the post.

If left unchecked, situations like these can lead to bad publicity for organizations and can even damage the company’s reputation. Two weeks ago, we wrote about The Importance of Employee Vetting and Continuous Evaluation. Not every organization has access to the same resources of a giant corporation to deal with the fallout of social media debacles. However, a strong social media policy is a massive step in the right direction. In order to have a robust policy, there are a few main things organizations need to do along the employee timeline.

Add Social Media to Your Background Check Procedures

Presently, many companies are adopting social media pre-employment screening as a part of their comprehensive background check process. This allows organizations to assess certain character traits vital to their organization and authenticate some resume and application-based data by using open source information on social media sites. It also helps assure due diligence on the part of employers during the hiring process. However, it is pertinent to fully disclose the scope of the background check process on authorization forms. The Society for Human Resource Management has posted a good example of a standard authorization form which may cover the scope of a comprehensive background check. It is important that companies routinely update these forms and their hiring procedures to remain Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliant.

Make a Sound Social Media Policy

In addition to incorporating social media to background check procedures, companies need to have a robust social media policy in place. Social media policies and monitoring procedures can help employers ensure that employees understand and acknowledge the full scope of workplace monitoring and that employers apply the policy equally using standardized procedures. This policy can cover a multitude of areas, including acceptable employee use, business use, and investigative procedures. While businesses need to respect employees’ right to organize, there is still a lot of leeway given to companies to create and enforce acceptable use policies. Attorney Heidi Carpenter wrote a great set of guidelines employers should use when utilizing social media in the workplace.

Follow Through

One major issue that arises is employers’ laxity regarding policies and procedures. Employers need to reinforce the policies by integrating them into the larger company culture. In order to ensure compliance with company regulations, businesses also need to routinely monitor their employees’ social media profiles and enforce the policies in a nondiscriminatory manner. In doing so, companies can help protect their reputation by hiring the right person and preventing situations from getting out of hand.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes and should not be construed as giving legal advice. For legal advice regarding social media policies and procedures, consult a legal professional.

About CES PRISM Blog

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The CES PRISM blog is the place where CES shares the newest developments in social media sites and tools, data analytics, eDiscovery, investigations, and intelligence. We will also share workflow tips and tricks, case studies, and the developmental progress of our open source social media research and analysis tool, PRISM. Our goal is to open a dialogue with the community which allows all of us to learn together.