In the current economic climate, any company with an actual job opening or one that indicates a possible future need for employees is met with a veritable flood of applications. Faced with this sea of “paperwork,” electronic or otherwise, those in charge of recruitment and hiring are looking for tools to narrow the applicants to a more manageable number. One of the more useful methods has been the research of suitable applicants on such social media websites as Facebook and LinkedIn.
The rise of social media over the past decade has spawned an attitude amongst the latest generations of Internet users that these sites are a necessary and fundamental aspect of their lives and personalities. As such, they generally reveal important and relevant details about their life priorities, work habits and eventual goals. While a review of an applicant’s social media sites will never replace the formal interview process, it can significantly minimize the number of candidates and also provide information that subsequently can be addressed in an interview.
Resumes and letters are still the defacto standard of every HR recruitment department. They establish the candidate’s education, training and occupational ability which are the fundamental basis for a hiring decision. The social media websites, however, also help establish such key factors as work ethic, loyalty and trustworthiness that traditional pre-screening procedures perform.
LinkedIn and Facebook are Indispensable Resources for the Recruiter
The LinkedIn and Facebook accounts of any outstanding candidate should be considered as they offer an important and somewhat unguarded glimpse into his seriousness and his life choices. LinkedIn is an important barometer of how important work, career and networking are to the candidate. It can also show how valuable a resource he can be in a sales or marketing position. On the other hand, a Facebook page offers a look into the choices that the candidate has made about his personal life and can give an overall idea of his stability and his priorities.
There is a caveat that should be included here. The information on these sites should not automatically disqualify an otherwise suitable candidate. The sites may be outdated, the account owned by someone else, or even been “hacked” by another person. Issues raised by these sites should be addressed in a formal interview with the candidate able to defend themselves. Nevertheless, one of the best uses for a site like LinkedIn is the ability of a recruiter to compare the current resume with the one that is used on the site.
Most Applicants Reveal Quite a Bit about their Personality on a Social Media Site
It is somewhat of an irony that most people think that they carefully guard their real persona online when in actuality they reveal inordinate amounts of information by their online actions. The simple inclusion of a picture, a comment or a link can afford a careful observer a glimpse into the character of a candidate. These observations need not be made on a moral or otherwise judgmental basis but simply on whether or not the candidate will fit into the culture of your particular company. Indeed, a careful consideration of these profiles can aid you in discriminating between the merely average candidates and the truly exceptional ones.
With these observations made, it should also be noted that many candidates will do little to hide their less than reputable activities. While hard to believe, seriously qualified candidates will post pictures and comments that he would be ashamed to have his own mother read but that he is perfectly comfortable sharing with the rest of the world. A prudent HR administrator should wonder how a candidate with such a cavalier attitude towards his own reputation will represent his future employer and their reputation.
A Picture is Worth a Dozen Interviews
Many young professionals seem to feel that their online presence should be out of bounds for their employers to investigate. A casual examination of many LinkedIn and Facebook pages will reveal that this observation is, in fact, true. It simply boggles the mind to find the some of the photos, not only available, but freely admitted as factual, by candidates in high profile positions. Regardless of the legality or sensibility of the behavior exhibited, these “young guns” fail to realize that the photos are highly unprofessional and their effect is to marginalize their value.
Again, a candidate should not be automatically disqualified for a ten year-old frat party photo but his decision making ability should definitely be explored in the interview.
The Information is there for the Taking
A routine search of a candidate’s social media sites can easily be accomplished in a few minutes. In addition, the time spent on this process should be commensurate with the importance of the candidate. Nevertheless, no one is advocating a massive online hunt to uncover the various indiscretions of a candidate. Instead, a social media search should be viewed as a casual glimpse into the more pertinent aspects of the candidate’s abilities. It can also provide additional information to help decide between two equally suitable candidates.
In terms of the sites to investigate, LinkedIn is always a good starting point with public profiles available from over 90% of the members. Twitter and Tumblr are next, also with high rates of accessibility, as the users want visibility and recognition. Lastly, Facebook trails with only 30% of the profiles available to the public. Nevertheless, all of these sites can help piece together a profile of a candidate that would not be available otherwise.
HRIS/HRMS products now include social media offering
Many HRIS developers are looking to expand their HR software to include social networking data into employee data management. Recruiting and talent management platforms can now incorporate social media analytics to maximize recruiting efforts. The newest advances in HR technology will need to embrace social media and mobile devices for maximum exposure and return on investment.
Social Media is here to Stay
These days, it is almost inevitable that a young professional will have an Internet and social media presence. Some will be defined by their careers and some will be purely personal. It is the obligation of the user to keep his own information private. Anything made public is fair game for the savvy HR administrator looking to make his own job easier and more effective. It is their obligation to use any and all of the tools available to find and hire the very best employees for their companies.