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Researching job applicants through social media

|Feb 25|magazine8 min read

The process for hiring new employees seems to get harder year after year. With unemployment up, there are more experienced people than ever on the job market, and sometimes hundreds will apply for one available position. How do you narrow down your list of qualified applicants when each resume presents similar qualifications? It’s hardly feasible to interview ten applicants, much less hundreds, so some HR staff and employers are looking towards social media to give them a deeper understanding of the prospective talent.

Every platform?

LinkedIn is the most common social site for employers to use to scope out possible employees. Unlike the traditional resume, people are encouraged to include an in-depth look into their responsibilities, noteworthy projects, certificate programs and the like. It also gives an employer insight into the types of professional connections had by a possible candidate. But this isn’t the only place employers will look.

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Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow employers to get a better view of the person behind the resume. This is important when considering office culture and how a future worker will work with current workers. Things to look for on social media sites like these include excessive foul language and references to violence and drug use.

Shon Burton, founder and CEO of HiringSolved goes beyond these few social media sites. “Resumes are dense, often unreadable, and ignorable,” Burton said. “Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, yes, but also YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Spotify and others — these are the places you see a candidate’s real interests at work, as well as their abilities in motion.”

And anyone who works in a creative or tech-heavy field should automatically have a deep and business-friendly presence on social media. Those who keep online portfolios or submit work, art, ideas or papers online should know what comes up when their name is typed into a search engine.

Beware the repercussions

Tread lightly when considering looking into your prospective employee’s personal life. Some, and in fact, a majority in some parts of the world, might see this move as a huge invasion of privacy, and it could reflect poorly on your company.

It’s also important to take in a person’s social media presence with a grain of salt. How someone chooses to act around their friends or family, no matter what morals, attributes or personality traits he or she might have, is generally different from how he or she will act in an office setting. But with more and more business being conducted over social media (whether it be garnering connections or advertising a product), more businesses and professionals are using their services. Perhaps now is a good time to for you to even consider cleaning up your own social media presence so it’s work-friendly.