Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Impact on Hiring in the Social Media Era

There is no denying the fact that the business environment has changed over the last decade. Telecommuting has seen an increase. The rise in the phenomenon known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work has resulted in easier access to projects. With BYOD, there is also an increased possibility of security breaches. But, perhaps, the biggest change in the business environment is how employees are hired.

As a result of social media, employers have the tools to conduct a comprehensive background check of all potential hires before ever speaking on the phone or meeting in person. A hiring manager can conduct a Google search and quickly see a potential hire’s digital footprint. This digital footprint can, and often does, include a LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, Facebook page, Pinterest page, YouTube channel, SlideShare account, and Google Plus page. And these sites form just the tip of the social media iceberg.

Back in February 2013, Vala Afshar, Chief Customer Officer/CMO of Enterasys, wanted to hire a social media professional but removed résumés from the process. Instead, he asked that candidates apply via Twitter with a hashtag phrase of #socialCV and a link to their LinkedIn profile. Additional requirements for consideration included a minimum Klout score above 60, a minimum Kred influence score of 725, more than 1,000 active Twitter followers, and blog experience. Enterasys found its employee online, and this “experiment” is no longer viewed as an experiment in the chronicles of social media hiring.

So, how can a midsize business use online social media data to its advantage? After a detailed job description is created, the hiring manager needs to understand what success in a specific job looks like. Then, he or she can appropriately review a potential employee’s social sites with a better understanding of how the prospective employee would fit into the company’s culture and accomplish a position’s tasks.

Here’s what hiring managers should look for when conducting social media reconnaissance:

[1] If a prospective employee has a Twitter account with an egghead avatar, this probably means that he or she doesn’t have a professional photo or doesn’t care.

[2] If a prospective employee has a Twitter account with a few Tweets or statements about where he or she dines or the movies watched, then he or she doesn’t understand this platform – make sure that the person actually Tweets about his or her specialty area.

[3] If a prospective employee has a personal Facebook page and has photos from college parties or other weird events, this probably means that he or she doesn’t understand Facebook’s Privacy Settings or doesn’t care about the image being presented.

[4] If a prospective employee has a blog with posts filled with incorrect spelling and poor syntax, then you definitely don’t want to hire this person for any copywriting position.

[5] If a prospective employee has a YouTube channel, make sure that the uploaded videos don’t just feature funny cat antics – unless your business is a circus.

Is this the wave of the future? The answer will depend on your industry, the size of your business, and your corporate culture. But, one thing is certain: If you conduct social media searches for new hires, make sure that you understand social platforms and know the difference between appropriate content and inappropriate content. Your workplace success depends on it.

Image Credit: Thanks to Scott Hampson for use of his comic with this post. Check out Scott’s work at

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

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