Quick question for anyone who makes hiring decisions: Would you hire a job candidate whose tweets, Facebook postings and other social media scribbling point to someone who likes to get wasted, comes to work with a hangover and sleeps around? All things considered, between this randy candidate and a seemingly straight candidate with similar credentials, who would you choose?
If only it were that simple. Add to the question that the first candidate has a few more critical skills and upon further research knows a thing or two about Web design and programming that could really help you move the needle. And despite his predeliction for alcoholic beverages on weekends and lack of bladder control, he volunteers and gives back to the community – details you might not find on his LinkedIn or Facebook page. Oh, and he probably doesn’t get drunk at work.
Social media is a great hiring tool, isn’t it? You can’t see into a candidate’s future, but you can surely see into their past, often as recent as the night before. At the PRSA annual conference in Orlando this week, one “older” attendee tweeted sarcastically to the many young PR students and recent grads in attendance to keep acting foolish and immature to ensure they don’t get hired. These attendees, often part of the student section of PRSA, are PR’s future, so it stands to reason that they should show some decorum while at a professional event. And 99% of them probably do.
As for background checks on social media and a quick Google search of job candidates, it’s not a bad idea provided it’s tempered with reason and a big fat dose of reality. Think about it – if you were looking for a job 15 or 20 years ago and there was a such thing as Twitter or Foursquare, would there be posts from you that might catch a hiring manager off-guard? Probably is my guess – but maybe it’s just my past!
Social media discovery about a job candidate – short of that person having a criminal background – should be filed into the “good to know” category. You shouldn’t ignore it, but you shouldn’t hold it against the candidate either. And once you do hire that person for the job, don’t friend him on Facebook. A friend of mine – an executive at a healthcare company – confessed to me that for about a month he was living vicariously through one employee who was posting very interesting updates on Facebook. One morning as they were both grabbing some coffee, he asked her about the party the night before and whether she finally got a ride a home. Her face screamed “Creepy!” and her fingers did the talking by immediately unfriending her boss. They are off to one good start!
— Diane Schwartz