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Social Media Can Influence Your Hiring Decisions

Categories: Business Communication

Social media can be a useful tool for managers when hiring, promoting or even assigning new projects.

Your job candidates or high potentials look great on paper, and present well in person, but does their professionalism extend to their online presence? Consider checking out their social media profiles and potential “digital footprint” on other sites as well.

A manager that I met at a woman’s networking event last month told me that she always “Googles” her candidates as part of her hiring process.

She explained, “They may ace my in-person interview, but how else can I truly tell if they are as responsible and mature as they convey in person? Easy, I check them out online!”

She said she specifically scours their Facebook and Twitter pages to see if they have provocative photos or other questionable activities and posts. She also checks to see if they’ve ever spoken badly about their current employers.

I remember reading about a woman that worked for a hospital and was caught assaulting someone on her social media pages. She had tons of homophobic, racist, and xenophobic posts. What happened? She was fired...

Even when social media profiles are deleted it can take a few months for various search engines to remove these profiles from their caches – leaving the information in Internet limbo, and easy to view.

Managers can benefit by taking the extra time to review prospective employees’ online presence (and even current staff members’ posts) – to ensure they get (and keep) reliable, responsible employees -- people who represent their company in a professional way all the time.

This is especially critical in client-facing roles like sales or customer service. You certainly don’t want clients finding the profile pages of sales or call center reps who just complained about the last “annoying client” they dealt with!

During employee reviews, if it’s listed as part of your employee code of conduct (and if it isn’t consider adding it as we enter a new year!), this type of information can also be mentioned as a reason not to promote or give an employee a raise.

My three suggestions:

  1. Do a quick Google search of your candidate’s or employee’s name, including abbreviations (Jon for Jonathan, etc.), middle initials, and alternate spellings they may have used.
  2. Visit LinkedIn and view his or her profile. See who is in their network, too. LinkedIn is the most business-oriented social media tool – and is like another digital resume.
  3. Check Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and review the last 6 months’ worth of posts (in case they recently “cleaned up” their profiles during active job hunt). Look for patterns of poor behavior or inappropriate pictures, and print any examples for their file (in case the profile is deleted and/or the search engine updates its caches).
Following these steps will help you make the best hiring/promotion decisions, and protect your company from an employee that could potentially damage the company's reputation.
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