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Using online profiling to recruit

Published: Friday 5th June 2015

The candidate looks good on paper, but what is he or she like in real life. One way of finding out is to check out their social media presence. According to a recent survey, that’s exactly what 52% of employers do, and another 10% of employers plan to start using social media screening as part of their recruiting procedures. Certainly, when it comes to candidate attraction, the internet has dramatically changed how we source, assess and hire the best recruits. But what should you be looking out for exactly and what are the caveats when using online profiling.

What does their social media presence say about potential candidates?

Professional networking sites like LinkedIn won’t tell you everything you want to know about a prospective candidate. This was evident also in the results which highlighted that it isn’t the professional sites that potential recruiters are looking at when vetting candidates; it is social networking platforms. The survey tells us that 62% of employers looked at the Facebook page of candidates, while another 45% looked at Twitter feeds. Photo sharing sites came under scrutiny too with one in ten checking out Instagram accounts and 8% looking at the Pinterest accounts of jobseekers.

mobile screen on table with icons of social media on screen and online profiles

Of course, one of the easiest ways to do a background check on a prospective employee is to perform a simple Google search. That way you can quickly access work, social and other information about the candidate that may not be included on their CV or covering letter. 49% of companies are already doing this, although recruitment experts warn that employers need to be careful when ‘googling’ prospective employees, especially those with common names, as it’s very easy to confuse applicants with their namesakes. In the process, you could end up eliminating the best person for the job.

To hire or not to hire – that is the question

Online vetting is certainly making an impact when it comes to who gets the job. 42% of recruiters found content that caused them ‘not to hire’, while 18% found material that made it more ‘doubtful’ they would hire the applicant. So what should you look out for? 

While most employers seem to be more interested in information that would lead them to think twice about hiring a certain candidate, recruiters should also look out for positives to help them identify the best candidates. Unsurprisingly, status posts about drinking or drug taking was top of the list for the reasons not to hire candidates. However, you might also see background information that supports information on candidate CVs, as well as social media posts that demonstrate creativity, intelligence, or other qualities you’re looking for.

  • Look out for involvement with business networks or community initiatives.
  • Good prose, a flair for communication or strong influencing skills can all be identified easily by reading over candidate postings.
  • Look for enthusiasm and positivity. Profanity, airing grievances and general negativity isn’t a good sign.
  • Clearly, bad-mouthing previous employers, other companies, or giving out sensitive information could be tell-tale signs that this candidate might not be the one for you.
  • Keep an eye out for candidates that use networking tools and technologies effectively. These individuals could be a real asset to your company.

Hand of man using Iphone7 Plus with icons of social media on screen

Online profiling for recruitment

Online profiling is definitely a tool that can be used when it comes to weeding out poor candidates. When deciding who to invite to interview, social networking statuses will certainly give you an idea of how a candidate will fit into your corporate culture. Just make sure you don’t eliminate the good ones along the way. 

Don’t get too caught up on little errors, such as typos, slang or text speak. And use common sense; there’s a big difference between seeing a prospective candidate passed out in a sea of empty bottles and making a toast at a wedding with a glass of wine. 

If it comes to a split decision later on in the recruitment process, then digging a bit deeper into the online profile of a preferred candidate could make all the difference when it comes to uncovering any inaccuracies or misrepresentations following the interview.

Online social profiling is a complex process. If you don’t have the resources at hand, then consider outsourcing to a specialist that has.

For more recruitment tips and advice, visit our Zoek hirer blog or follow us on Twitter @Zoekappuk.

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