Social Media Applicant Screening: A Double Edged Sword

Is your prospective employer using social media sources such as LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter to learn more about you? According to HRhero.com, companies are using these forums as inexpensive recruitment and retention tools.

Social media is becoming more main stream for employers to find prospective employees and to do background checks on them. “Three-quarters of hiring managers check LinkedIn to research the credentials of job candidates” according to a Jump Start Social Media poll on the use of social media in the hiring process. “Of the hiring managers surveyed, 75% use LinkedIn, 48% use Facebook, and 26% use Twitter to research candidates before making a job offer.”

What would they learn about you? As with most decisions we make, there are benefits and risks to revealing ourselves publically.

The Hiring Manager’s Advantage

If an employer finds you from a traditional channel, such as networking, newspaper solicitation or through a recruiter, don’t be surprised if they “Google you” or tap into some of the larger social media hot spots prior to extending an offer.

Employers are turning to the internet as a cost effective proposition to post jobs or place recruitment ads on many of the sites at little to no cost, unlike Monster for Employers where you buy job postings.

Job hiring internet surfers will look at your public profile to learn about your background or expertise before contacting you. Depending on what they uncover, you might never hear from them. Conversely, if they like what they see, it may solidify an invitation for an interview.

It is easy to find someone on the internet if they have a presence. In social media networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn, search by entering their name. Many profiles have pictures to assist identifying someone with a common name.

To do a general search, use your favorite search engine, Google, Yahoo, Bing or other application and enter the person’s name in the search bar. To narrow a search, use “quotes” around the search criteria.

Are you new to using social media as a recruitment tool? Click to Client gives an example of a step by step process for how to hire star talent.

The Job Seeker’s Advantage

On membership sites, the amount of information you share is an individual decision. Some people are open to sharing their public information; others are more private. There are options on most sites to hide your profile, making your information available to select users or no one at all…which may defeat the purpose of being on the site.

If your profile is public, consider it to be your calling card or brand statement. What you say and how you say it will shape or affirm the perception a prospective employer has of you.

If your profile has links to other websites, blogs or other recommendations, expect employers to visit them. For example, there are job seekers who start blogs – sometimes to promote themselves or maybe to share their passion around a special interest. If the purpose of your blog is to convey your knowledge and expertise, it may be a good move.

Recently, I met Dara Greiger who started a blog to raise awareness of her personal journey to conquer a mountain and raise funds for organ transplantation. I am in awe with her determination to climb both mountains.

On her blog and Twitter account she readily shares her success as a transplant survivor. If she was looking for a job, I wonder how prospective employers may see some one like her – do they see her as a more risky employee?

To me, she is someone who perseveres and meets her challenges – a sure sign of a winner. The challenge is that not everyone sees things the same way.

If your special interest(s) is a potential deal killer with an employer, reconsider how much you want to share publicly.

As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words“. Plastering your party pictures or stupid moments on MySpace or Facebook could jeopardize your chances of the dream job. Employers ultimately want to hire responsible individuals who make sound judgments. It is unlikely employers will ask you to explain the photo; they will have already rendered a decision.

Legal Implications

There continues to be legal debate on whether or not companies should utilize the social networking sites for screening purposes. The information companies learn about a candidate could provide a basis for discrimination if someone is not hired. It is something to consider, though unlikely to impact how the internet continues to change how connect on a more global level.

Author: Lynn Dessert

Lynn Dessert is a certified ICF and NLP Coach specializing in Executive Career coaching in Charlotte NC. She works with individuals to accelerate their career advancement and organizations to fast track leadership skill development. Her career eBooks What To Do After Being Fired and The Secrets to Successful Job On-Boarding give you a roadmap to DIY. Start your discovery process by contacting her at 704.412.2852 today.

Share This Post On