Occasionally, an employer will proudly tell me how they have “researched” their candidates by checking their Facebook page. My first question is always: What did you learn?
If they tell me they were concerned by pictures suggesting the candidate is a “party animal”, it immediately takes me to my second question: How did the candidate perform during their phone screening, interview and reference checking?
If things have gone horribly wrong by this stage, I might be told the candidate in question never progressed to interviewing, because of concerns over their social media profile. In other words, they’re telling me that a candidate that looked good on paper (and may have been even better in-person) wasn’t even extended a five minute telephone chat.
In an equally worrying scenario I might be told that their strong performance during interview and reference checking, has been thrown into doubt over a less than inspiring Facebook performance.
It’s easy to see the danger in what’s going on here.
Now, I’ve never reviewed any of the profiles these employers referred to. There could indeed have been some worrying pictures or comments that scared them off. I’m not doubting that, but what I am doubting, is whether these employers understand the concepts of “perspective” and “balance”.
A social media profile is exactly that. It’s a snapshot of their social life. The candidate can, and probably does, maintain a complete separation between their professional and social lives.
A social media profile is not a resume. It also does not (usually) indicate their professional views and you certainly can’t determine a person’s ability to perform a given job role from their Facebook page.
But, if you are going down the social media research path, have you checked to see whether they also have a LinkedIn entry?
If they do, it’s hard to imagine it’s anything other than a professional, on-line resume. While you’re at it, did you Google them? They might be an active blogger on a subject they’re passionate about – and it might be a good cause.
The bottom line with recruitment is to apply several steps from reviewing their resume, all the way through to interviewing, psychometric testing and reference checking. Doing your own “research” via social media profiles is the step with the lowest relevance to the recruitment process.
What we’re really talking about here to be honest, is looking for pictures or comments that become “disqualifiers” or reasons not to progress. The real danger here is seeing a profile that doesn’t meet your ideal, and then potentially missing out on a great candidate.
Bottom line? – keep social media research in perspective.
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