by Emily Russo
“When screening job candidates…1 in 10 employers uses or has used social networking sites.” (Duffy, 1). Recently, employers are browsing potential employee’s personal social media pages to discover any related information that was not exposed in the interview. Some employer’s even declare that checking a potential candidate’s social networking site is basically a pre-interview process. Kashmir Hill of Forbes Magazine says, “If you don’t like a person there (on Facebook), you probably won’t like working with them.” According to Careerbuilder.com’s survey, 63% of managers who used social networking websites did not hire the person based on the negative things they found on their profile. Dan Schawbel of Time Magazine says, “They are using these networks to fish where the fish are.” Employers are using these networks to find potential employees because that’s where they spend the majority of their time. With the outstanding number of people interacting with social media websites every day, employers are searching for potential employees in the all the right places. Social media is now being used as an effective source to assess potential employee’s professionalism, personality, level of intelligence, or, in many cases, lack thereof.
Facebook is a social networking website where users can create personal profiles, share photos and statuses, and communicate with their family, friends, classmates, and coworkers. Facebook was launched in February 2004 and by September 2012, there were over one billion users. Facebook also allows users to create pages for their businesses which can be easily connected with their personal pages. People are connecting with their local and favorite businesses, to allow businesses and employers to have access to view their personal pages. Out of the top three networks, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, Facebook saw the biggest gain in overall usage by recruiters to seek out potential candidates. Facebook profiles provide a variety of personal information that the employer would not have been able to obtain without browsing their personal page. However, employers don’t always find good things for which their decisions are based. In many cases, there are profiles that have inappropriate pictures involving alcohol, illegal substances, and crude behavior. When these types of pictures are brought to the attention of an employer, it signifies a red flag. Employers would prefer to see photos of involvement with local charities or pictures with family, indications that they are well-rounded, responsible members of society. When applicants post pictures of these inappropriate actions, managers typically get turned off and question their capability of working for their company. Facebook has become a part of our culture, so now, more than ever, people are being held accountable for the way they represent themselves in their profiles (6). While there are a lot of advantages of Facebook, there are a few disadvantages. Some recruiters may not be able to find a particular candidate because their Facebook page may be hidden due to strict privacy settings. Some candidates may not even have a Facebook profile, and if they do, they may only use it to communicate with old friends and not post personal information. Facebook is not the only useful social media tool for hiring candidates; Twitter has recently become another useful way to find potential employees.
Twitter was launched in July 2006 by Jack Dorsey. As of 2012, this social networking website had over 500 million users. Twitter is a website that allows people to “tweet,” which is a way to create a post or status, while keeping it under 140 characters. Twitter is a fast paced application, where an individual will normally tweet 2 or 3 times a day. Twitter is a personal website, but has recently expanded into the business world as well. Recruiters are now looking up candidate’s Twitter profiles to gain knowledge outside of the interview. In 2012, more than half of recruiters used Twitter as a part of their talent search. Companies are using Twitter to post job openings in hopes that their potential applicants will be following their company as well as their employees. Some are even using third party companies such as Twit Job Search and Tweet My Jobs to promote listings (Schawbel 2). Only 15% of recruiters have hired a candidate while using Twitter, because there are more disadvantages than advantages. One of the largest disadvantages is that there is only a 140-character limit, which limits what people, can “tweet”. Secondly, posts have a low shelf life because of the immense traffic amongst Twitter; people are posting a status every few minutes. While Twitter is very helpful in sorting through job applicants, LinkedIn, which is basically like an online resume, is also very useful.
LinkedIn was launched on May 5, 2003 and has more than 200 million users in over 200 countries. LinkedIn was created for professional networking but has grown to so much more. People use LinkedIn to keep in touch with co-workers as well as people in their networking groups. Recently, employers have been using this website to hire employees. Approximately 89% of employers have hired through LinkedIn and often use a beneficial tool called LinkedIn Recruiter. A huge advantage of LinkedIn is that employers can view the professionals with which the candidate currently connects. Most recently, business connections seem to provide a much higher chance to be considered for employment; more frequently, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Most employers will only take an applicant seriously if they provide a complete profile and display extensive involvement, community, and education accomplishments. However, on the downside, LinkedIn can be time consuming and cumbersome, as it is necessary to connect with colleagues before sending messages. After extensive research on the top three social media networks, Rosen and Kluemper wrote an article about a study they conducted about the impact of the big five personality traits through social media.
In 2008, Rosen and Kluemper performed a study called “The Impact of the Big Five Personality Traits on the Acceptance of Social Networking Website.” During the study, researchers had a group of people complete a personality questionnaire frequently used by companies to gauge the big five personality traits: openness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness. The subjects then allowed a team of three researchers to access their Facebook profiles. The researchers viewed at their profiles and answered questions that were similar to the ones that the group of people before filled out. The researchers then calculated two personality scores per person: one based on the responses from the subject, and the second based on the responses from the raters. Based on the five specific classifications, the researchers found that each one impacted the subject on technology differently. Agreeableness is associated with traits of courtesy, flexibility, trustworthiness, forgiving, etc. Researchers found that individuals that are agreeable, are more likely to contemplate social networking technology as valuable, as it would help them foster their personal relationships with others. Openness to experience is associated with traits of curiousness, originality, intelligence, etc. Since these types of people are more curious than others, communicating with friends and co-workers should be appealing to these them. Extroversion is associated with traits of sociability, talkativeness, activeness, etc. Since these individuals are assertive and social, social networking would be another way to assert themselves and be quite useful. Conscientious is associated with traits of responsible, organized, planful, etc. Conscientiousness people are persistent and are better capable of following directions. They would find that social networking is easier to use than others. Neuroticism is associated with traits of anxiety, worry, insecurity, etc. People who are neurotic have trouble trying new experiences and are more likely to have problems with social networking or simply want to avoid this technology completely (Rosen and Kluemper 4-5). While this study is helpful in understanding the ins and outs of the social media world, there are many other factors to consider.
Social media sites help filter out unprofessional candidates, as hiring new employees has become more and more expensive. In the study conducted by Rosen and Kluemper, they found that the traits of conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability are the top three traits employers look for in future employees. An employer can make a judgment just by looking at an applicant’s profile. That’s why it is crucial that applicants create their personal brand in a positive way. On the contrary, social media websites have become more of a negative and controversial issue. Some believe it is unjust to obtain information about someone without their consent. However, when one displays personal information on the Internet, they are then making it public information. Others think social media websites are a waste of time and don’t think they help finding a job. Nevertheless, if an employer goes to look for a potential employee’s social profile and cannot locate one, they may think the applicant is irrelevant or trying to hide something. A major social media feaux pas is spelling and grammar mistakes. Interestingly, according to hiring managers, poor grammar and spelling mistakes are worse (54%) social networking sins than posting about a binge-drinking adventure (Schawbel 1).
Throughout this past decade, social media has taken over our society. People are making these websites a part of their daily routine. Some feel the need to update the cyber world on every little thing that they do. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow users to update their friends’ lives through the use of pictures, status’s, and accomplishments. Without these three social networks, our society would be changed completely. Employers would not be able to see what these potential applicants do “after hours” and be able to determine if they are the right fit for their company (To Tag or not to Tag, 4).
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