Can social stalking hinder successful recruitment?

I will never forget the time I had a candidate rejected for interview because of his social media representation. This individual was in possession of a skill set that had become highly covetable within his chosen sector yet because it was a new area of specialism, demand was resolutely outstripping availability when it came to finding talent. Despite this, the Chief Executive of the organisation that had retained me had conducted more than just his due diligence when looking into the background of potential employees, discovering antics on Facebook that made him doubt the professionalism of the individual I was hoping to bring into the recruitment process.

Every organisation has a view or policy on social media. Some are happy to see the Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter logos pop up on their employee’s computer screens whilst others see it as a significant business threat, strictly monitoring or even banning its usage within working hours. The recruitment process is often the only time when most organisations have a more open view. After all, networking sites such as LinkedIn have become an important method of finding talent, particularly in niche areas. Social media has also proven useful when it comes to finding passive job seekers – those who may not be actively perusing the job sites but who remain open to interesting opportunities when presented to them through different avenues.

There is also the obvious fact that social media allows employers to do a bit of background research before making an approach. A good LinkedIn profile will show where and how long a person has been with their employers. Many will have photos and some will also have recommendations, both of which are useful when it comes to ascertaining organisational fit and/or professional credibility. Where lines start to blur is when networking sites, designed for the personal rather than the professional, are brought into the mix, particularly with channels such as Facebook where people think it is safe to share anything from holiday photos and personal pictures to their political views. The language used is naturally less censored and most people really don’t expect a potential employer to be analysing their activity; if we did then Facebook would probably be far less popular as a personal social platform.

Despite this, some employers, wary of making the wrong hire, are turning to every source available to try and gain a true picture of potential employees. Whilst you can understand their motives, placing too much emphasis on personal Tweets or Facebook posts could mean missing out on someone incredible. Just because a person shows a few photos of a raucous night out it doesn’t mean they will turn up to work late every morning with a hangover – on the contrary, outgoing social antics may reflect a vibrant, enthusiastic and personable individual who will slot into a new team with ease and be well liked by their peers.

The point is, unless the activities displayed are unquestionably in-proper, then recruiters and employers should take them with a pinch of salt and reserve their judgement for the LinkedIn profile, the CV and most importantly the face to face interview.

Interestingly I have followed the career movements of my unlucky Facebook candidate and it has flourished. He is now the Head of division in his chosen sector proving that the social doesn’t always have to mirror the professional when it comes to achieving success.

About the Author

Helen Harling

Office and Marketing Manager for both Procurement Heads and sister brand HR Heads. Graduating with a marketing degree, Helen has continued her passion by leading our marketing function forward. You will see her blogging, tweeting, posting, videoing about Procurement Heads. You can see this on our LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram page.

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