Three Things to Look for in a Candidate's Social Media Profiles

Julie Shenkman
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A 2012 survey conducted by Career Builder found that out of 2,303 human resource professionals and hiring managers, 37 percent used social media to screen job applicants. You can learn a lot about a potential job candidate from the person's social media profile. The challenge is knowing what to look for when you visit the individual's profile page. Here are three things you should consider when perusing the profiles of potential employees.

Job or Industry Knowledge: The primary concern of human resource professionals is hiring people with the knowledge and skills needed to perform well in the jobs assigned to them. One thing you should look for on a candidate's social media profile is a demonstration of the person's job or industry experience. This can take many forms including tips, blog posts on relevant topics, links to work the person has done in the field, and even attendance at industry conferences. In addition to demonstrating a certain amount of proficiency, these types of things suggest a passion for and commitment to the work, traits that can benefit your company greatly.

Behavior: How the person behaves online can also be an indicator of how well the individual will do in the workplace. A person who behaves in a professional manner online is vastly different from someone who spews vulgarities and posts objectionable images. Scroll through the timeline on the candidate's social media profile. Does the person actually talk to other people? How does the individual respond to criticism? Does the individual shy away from controversy or jump right in with both feet? The answers to these questions can help you assess whether the person is a good match for the company.

Potential PR Disasters: Whether you like it or not, an employee's behavior in the public sphere reflects back on the company. It's more important now than ever to be diligent and screen a potential employee's social media profile for potential PR disasters. Racist and homophobic remarks, bullying, publically supporting antisocial ideology, and similar content are all warning signs the job candidate is probably not someone you want working for you. Not only could the person ruin the company's reputation, the individual could become a legal liability. Putting someone who constantly makes sexist remarks on his or her social media profile in a management position increases the company's risk of being slapped with a discrimination suit.

In today's job market, managers are flooded with applications and resumes. Perusing the social media profiles of applicants can help you weed out the ones who may not be the best fit for the job. However, it's important to remember that a social media profile is only one aspect of a person's life. Look at the big picture when considering applicants and use good judgment to hire great employees.


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