Nearly three-quarters of internet users have a social media footprint, making social recruiting one of the top ways for today’s employers to fill their open positions with the best talent. The majority of employers (at least 60% as of April 2016) use social media recruiting as part of their candidate sourcing process, and many conduct additional research on candidates’ social media profiles before making a hire.
Each platform has its own nuances and advantages. Here are tips for where to look, and how to find the right information:
LinkedIn and Professional Networks:
LinkedIn is a treasure trove of information about a candidate’s professional life. Many professionals post blogs, articles, publications, past work, and professional updates on their pages. A vibrant LinkedIn page signals that a candidate has invested time in staying up-to-date with his or her industry and in networking with the professional community. The variety and breadth of material on a candidate’s page provides insight into their influencers and professional interests. The same principles apply to niche professional social networking sites similar to LinkedIn.
How to check them:
With the exception of premium members who opt for total privacy, all LinkedIn members have a public page that anyone can view; simply search by name and current employer. Closer connections have access to more information, but it is preferable not to send a connection request solely for the purposes of seeing more information on a candidate.
Nearly every job requires strong written and verbal communication skills. Hiring managers can gauge verbal skills from an in-person interview and written skills from a candidate’s thank-you note, however, the interview process mostly reflects the candidate’s communication skills under pressure. Writing samples such as professional or personal blogs reflect a more complete picture of the candidate’s written communication style. Professionally themed pieces better indicate the level of communication that a hiring manager can expect to see from the candidate during his or her employment.
Personal blogs, while not as relevant, are a valuable window into the candidate’s personality, special interests, and the kind of audience they seek to engage.
How to check them:
A simple Google search of “(Candidate name) blog” will sometimes return relevant results. If not, it is generally easiest to ask the candidate during an interview if they have a blog URL they are willing to share.
Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more:
Personal social media profiles offer a previously unavailable window for employers to explore a candidate’s personal life. Normally, a potential employer would see only a faint glimpse of this during the interview process, filtered heavily by what the candidate chooses to reveal. Social media profiles involve far less control on the candidate’s part and can provoke a dilemma for a potential employer who may see more than they bargained for.
How to check them:
It is legal to view a candidate’s public social media profiles as part of a job search process without a waiver, but the best practice is to wait until after meeting a candidate in person and to verbally disclose that the hiring protocol includes a review of public social media channels. Why? A hiring manager and a candidate each have time to prepare themselves before an interview; a candidate deserves the same opportunity to prepare his or her social media footprint for scrutiny by a potential employer. Additionally, it adds a layer of protection against potential accusations of unfair discrimination. Proceed cautiously, and when in doubt, seek professional legal advice.
As a general rule for all social media interactions, be consistent. Use the same searches and processes for each candidate to ensure fairness, and formally document any positive or negative hiring decisions made with information gathered from a social media profile, including screenshots. The interviewing process is still the best format to judge a candidate’s fit; treat social media as an extension of the in-person interview.
Lastly, be aware that candidates conduct their own social media research on prospective employers and hiring managers. It is well worth it for hiring managers and their HR departments to consider their own social media footprint during the interview process.
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