By Jennifer King
Screening a potential job candidate online is one thing. Asking for a candidate’s login information for his or her Facebook profile is another. But why do recruiters and hiring managers go to such lengths to check up on their candidates’ social networking profiles?
First and foremost, it’s expensive for companies to hire a candidate only to eventually realize he or she isn’t the right fit for the position, perhaps due to personality, professional behavior, etc. These recruiters and hiring managers just want to know as much as they can about a person who they may give a job offer.
However, Eric Meyer, social media expert and partner in the labor and employment group at Dilworth Paxson LLP, stresses that “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.”
Those red flags will vary from company to company. In a 2011 survey about how recruiters use social networks to screen candidates, 91% of the respondents claimed they have visited a candidate’s social networking profile. Of those, 69% have even rejected a candidate based on what they found, such as an inappropriate photo or negative comments about a previous employer.
At the same time, 68% claim to have actually hired someone based on what they found on a candidate’s social networking profile - 39% did it because whatever they found “gave a positive impression of the candidate’s personality and organizational fit.”
“In terms of mindset and outlook on life, people use their social networks and their blogs to really express themselves,” says Rachel Dotson, content manager for ZipRecruiter. “If you see someone consistently posting negative things and it’s apparent they have a poor outlook on life, that’s the kind of thing (especially at a small company like ours) that’s going to give us a lot of pause.”
Manage Your Online Perception
In this day and age, we all have an Internet persona, and we’re all searchable online. As a job seeker who’s active on social networks, prep your profiles because it’s likely a hiring manager will glance at at least one of your social media profiles throughout the hiring process. It’s also likely that what the hiring manager finds will shape his or her first impression of you.
“Perception is reality in the business world,” says Amy Henderson, account executive with the staffing and recruiting agency Technisource. “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.”
Jennifer King is an HR Analyst for Software Advice, a company that reviews and compares human resources management software. She blogs about trends, technology, and best practices in the HR market.