By: Jennifer King
In a 2011 Reppler survey about how recruiters use social networks to screen candidates, 91% of the respondents claimed they have visited a potential candidate’s profile on a social network as part of the screening process. But why? With all the tweets, status updates and comments, it’s unavoidable for any social job seeker not to be searchable in some way.
To learn more about why recruiters and hiring managers screen job candidates online, I talked to a few social media and recruiting experts.
Why Do Recruiters Care?
With social media, it’s possible to learn a lot more about a candidate than what’s on their resume.
“Businesses and recruiters want to know as much as they can about a person who they may give a job offer,” says Eric Meyer, partner in the labor and employment group at Dilworth Paxson LLP and author of The Employer Handbook. “But the real purpose behind screening is to make sure the person you’re hiring doesn’t have any red flags that would make them a bad fit or a potential liability for the business.”
According to Amy Henderson, account executive with Technisource, part of Randstad Technologies, her method for screening candidates online really depends on the role the person’s being considered for.
“We heavily rely on LinkedIn to verify skill sets and backgrounds required for more technical positions,” says Henderson. “You’re friends with your friends on Facebook and it’s hard to say you’re something you’re not. You see it more when someone’s background on their resume doesn’t align with their LinkedIn profiles.”
With more customer-facing roles, Henderson may check out a candidate’s public Facebook profile to make sure they’re representing themselves in a way that doesn’t hinder their chances of being placed.
“If we find questionable photos or status updates, we’ll use that as a coaching opportunity and try to consult the candidate on his or her online reputation so the client [hiring company] doesn’t get the wrong idea when and if they choose to screen the candidate on social media sites.”
Tips for Job Seekers
For hiring managers who choose to look up candidates online, it’s likely that what they find will also shape their first impression of that person.
“Perception is reality in the business world,” says Henderson . “The way people perceive you online, through social media–that’s what they use to make first impressions. And those first impressions are lasting impressions.”
And even with privacy restrictions set up on social networking sites like Facebook, it doesn’t mean an employer won’t take extra steps to get a look at what’s behind those privacy restrictions, even if that means bluntly asking a job candidate for his or her login information.
But by requiring login credentials for candidates’ social media profiles, employers run the risk of losing top talent due to a perceived lack of trust.
“Employers run the risk that if they require job candidates to relinquish Facebook logins and passwords as a condition of employment, those candidates will respond by removing their names from consideration,” Meyer says. “At the moment the company requests that private information, it projects a lack of trust, which is a bad building block for an employer-employee relationship.”
What other best practices should social job seekers consider for maintaining their social perception online?
Jennifer King is an HR Analyst at Software Advice, an online resource that shares reviews and comparisons of recruiting and employee performance review software. She reports on trends, best practices and technology in human resources. Read the full article on her HR blog.