Face and Space: Using Social Networking Websites As A Recruiting Tool
There's been a lot of buzz recently about recruiters Googling candidates to find out more about them. Using search engines to research candidates is nothing new, however. The real news is the kind of information Internet searching now turns up.
Young candidates, it seems, are particularly susceptible to embarrassing reveals about their social habits, attitudes, and more. Although some of the information shared might ber the result of posturing, it nevertheless doesn't fit with employer views of professionalism.
Facebook and MySpace, two popular sites among young people, have added fuel to the candidate search fire. Gathering places for some, they're now information hunting grounds for employers. And what employers learn about would-be hires is generally less than favorable.
The trend has prompted press releases on the topic from two industry leaders in the past week. CollegeGrad.com, a leading entry level job site, tells college grads, "It's time to clean up your dirt."
The dirt can include photographs, videos, and/or blogs on dating experiences, politics, their parents, roommates, professors, and employers, the firm notes.
"While there is still more hype than reality around employers using these sites to research potential hires, it is a growing trend. More and more employers are going deep into the Internet to dig for more information about potential candidates," says Brian Krueger, president of CollegeGrad.com.
Global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas has a similar message for job seekers who use networking sites. Hiring managers can take candidates out of consideration for a job because of information found at networking sites, the firm says.
Accordingly, Challenger, Gray & Christmas offers tips for networking site users called, "What To Avoid; What To Do: Social Networking, Blogging Tips." The first tip reads, "Face it. Your profile has become your resume. If you insist on having your profile available to the world, use it to your advantage. Posting insightful comments on your workplace, industry, current events, or whatever is on your mind shows others that you can articulate ideas, especially if you avoid resorting to insults or derogatory language. Instead of posting pictures of your latest drinking escapade, show examples of interests and hobbies that make you unique, such as photos of you playing guitar, windsurfing, or community service. Anything that shows your expertise with a digital camera or web design is always a plus."
The company also offers a separate set of tips for employers called, "Guidance For Employers: Using Social Networking Websites As A Recruiting Tool."
Guidance For Employers begins with, "Keep an open mind. Companies should realize that a considerable number of their candidates are not boy or girl scouts. There is certain behavior that is intolerable. If anything is found online that is troubling, hiring managers should learn more about the candidates' personality and work ethic through follow-up interviews."
Sounds like good advice, right? So what if a candidate attended too many spring break keg parties and has a fun-in-the-sun photo at the site?
It's not that simple. Consider the very first profile a visit to MySpace turned up, Bad Sarah (yes, this is the name she uses at the site).
Among the interests Bad Sarah lists are beer, pool, dirty martinis, and dive bars. Bad Sarah also indicates that she attended three different colleges. Her first college experience, which lasted four years, shows her major as "doing as little as possible without failing." At the second college she majored in "sunbathing, recreational drug use, macrame."
If you're an employer scoping out Sarah and you haven't been turned off yet, the photo she's got posted may be the clincher. It shows only a bruised thigh with a notation that indicates the bruises came from somebody named Bob.
Sarah's current occupation is listed as "SuperTemp," which begs the question, is she attempting to land a full-time job with this MySpace profile available for employer viewing?
One thing is certain: Young job seekers (and seasoned workers too) would be well advised to heed advice about the pitfalls of sharing personal information online. As far as employers keeping an open mind, as Challenger, Gray & Christmas suggests, it's likely to depend on what searches reveal.
Technorati: socialnetworking, myspace, facebook, google