Social Networking - facebook, twitter et al

Some evidence round usage of social networking in recruiting with a look at how it is used and its affect on selection.
Big implications for recruitment and perhaps where things will also go for the NZ market.
I was at an HR function last night where we were discussing Talent Management and the post speaker chat turned to social networking.

Within NZ there is still huge interest in this and how it can and might be used within an HR context. Unlike some other markets within NZ most recruiting, screening and selection revolves round the CV with as yet, from what I can see, not so much of a social networking view of things. However it looks like that is changing and I thought I would share some thoughts and evidence I have come across on the usage of social networking within a recruiting context.

For some time we have advocated to candidates when delivering agency services that they be most careful about their online profiles. The adage that “if it is online, it is online forever” is a useful reminder for them that care should be taken. Agency recruiters do of course, use social networking to generate candidates, however it appears that in the US and UK markets at least more and more corporate HR/Recruiters are also doing some online checking. See also previous post: Social Networking - Lessons for Candidates / future job hunters on 7/1/11

A well quoted source in 2010 was Cross-Tab Marketing’s study for Microsoft (it covered the US, UK, France and Germany). It showed that the public seriously underestimated the amount of online checking that goes on. Data from the US suggests that 70% of recruiters have rejected candidates after looking them up online. However a positive online reputation also matters and 85% said it had made a difference in choosing to hire.

A recent but much smaller survey by Reppler also confirmed that your online presence can have a big effect on getting a job. In that one, 91% of Recruiters said they used Social Networks to screen prospective employees with 69% saying they had rejected candidates following online lookups - interesting through 68% also said they had hired following being influenced by an online profile.

reppler social network survey

Conclusion from Reppler: “So what do these results really tell us? From our perspective, there are 3 key takeaways:
1. Whether you like it or not, hirers are using social networks to screen job applicants. This means it is important to carefully manage your image on these types of sites.
2. Facebook and Twitter are being used a lot to screen job applicants. On Facebook and Twitter, we believe hirers are trying to get a more personal view of a candidate, rather than the resume-like view they will see on LinkedIn.
3. Hirers are looking at the social networking profiles of candidates very early in the process. This means that job seekers need to have their online act in order before they begin looking for a job.”


From our experience the lessons of these and other research we have seen is that Recruiters are increasingly validating candidates online. They can now anonymously see/collect information they would otherwise not be permitted to ask in interviews or at the least would be wary of asking. As a result I think it is inevitable that such information will affect selection and clearly this is an issue for employers with respect to compliance and privacy. It argues all the more for having systems that govern recruitment process and for using more formalised selection procedures and tools. However given the ubiquity of the web it is very difficult to completely stop or police. Thus, for candidates, they would be well advised to accept it as perhaps an unfortunate fact of life and take care with what they share online - “if it is online, it is online forever” is a useful way of governing what you choose to share...