What if Recruiters Stopped Using Social Media

It could happen? Ok not really but what started me on a very passionate post that I had to quiet a bit after a few drafts were the comments from an infograph on How Recruiters Use Social Media, by Erica Swallow about how recruiters use social media to screen candidates. The comments were spiced with bits about how people cannot believe a recruiter would eliminate someone based on what they saw online (in various forms). It got me going nuts inside! One of the strongest findings, recruiters who participated in this confidential survey shared that 69% of recruiters had ruled out candidates based on what they viewed on their social media sites. Conversely 68% of recruiters hired a candidate based on the profile or pages of a candidates social media presence.

Obviously this type of information is going to send lawyers and candidates everywhere in to an uproar, but wait a minute I am confused! I personally don’t search out candidates to see their activity on Facebook however I have searched for candidates on Facebook and LinkedIn and I post jobs on both. I also use LinkedIn to review a candidate.

I have put together a hypothetical thought. Here are some potential ramifications if recruiters are not supposed to use social media to make hiring decisions and stop:

  1. No more posting jobs on twitter, google+, LinkedIn, LI Groups, Facebook, etc…
  2. No more asking for recommendations from colleagues, former bosses, customers, etc… on LinkedIn because we won’t be looking at those
  3. re: #2 it will be back to company policy of dates of employment and title only
  4. Passive job seekers will have to go back to putting their resumes on CareerBuilder and Monster for their current employers to see
  5. Most people learn about openings from referrals and people in their “network” that they trust without social media our networks shrink considerably and so do the candidates
Maybe I am in the minority, I believe that what people are doing is working if just as many recruiters have hired candidates based on their online presence as not, they are better odds than the traditional job boards. Honestly, we are looking for strong positive connections to make a good hire that we know will last and by seeing deeper connections through your online profile we feel that much more confident in the decisions we are making.
It is fairly simple what we are looking for:
  • We want to see that you have recommendations from former employers, colleagues, customers, etc…
  • We want to make sure your resume and profile match
  • We want to see that you have connections with a variety of professionals in your industry
  • We want to see that you have joined groups in your field
Does this mean that a recruiter should only be using social media to find the positives about a candidate?  Define what is positive? This DOES vary from employer to employer and job to job. It isn’t feasible.
RE: YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT (this is the one people seem to really struggle with) Here is the biggest thing to understand, as a job seeker or potential candidate, even a current employee “we” see what you let “us” see! WOW, crazy isn’t it! I don’t want to see any interrogating or compromising pics or posts from any of my friends let alone someone I don’t know; it honestly makes me uncomfortable. If you have an issue with an employer, your grandmother or anyone else seeing you sloppy drunk then use your security settings to block us, we aren’t friends, so that should be easy, as far as grandma you will have a few extra steps to take.
Recruiters and Business owners please note that there are unwritten guidelines and ethics we use as guiding principles in all of our recruiting and sourcing efforts, this is no exception. The laws are detailed and vary based on the use of social media in recruiting be sure that you are staying on top of them or reaching out to a professional when you are unsure of proper protocol.


Views: 772

Comment by Doug Munro on October 25, 2011 at 10:21am

I find one of the issues, with Facebook in particular, is that people still may not be savvy about how their online presence may influence the image they project of themselves. I think it's likely that many of the potentially sketchy things one might find on someone's profile are innocent in nature, at least as far as they know. This extends to the point you make about what their friends/associates might be posting. None of us is likely to police everything that appears on our profile, though we should. Your points are well taken with regard to the sorts of connections to peers and groups we might hope to find on a candidate's pages, but even there I suspect many aren't SM-savvy enough at this point to understand that value. I find Social Media an extraordinary frontier and a growing component of my own recruiting model, but I'm concerned with soft vetting through it.

Comment by Danielle Powers on October 25, 2011 at 10:52am

Great points Doug, I agree that most people don't know about how recruiters search to find candidates, even on the job boards. I have done a number of talks and posts surrounding how we as recruiters search through there resumes just like they would search on Google and most are shocked. I never take for granted what appears as common sense to me is common sense to others (especially as it relates to recruiting/sourcing). 

It is a daunting task and many times not as rewarding as we might hope, managing and creating an online presence but as technology continues and grows it is becoming mandatory for just about everyone. 

Comment by Doug Munro on October 25, 2011 at 10:57am

Spot on, Danielle. I worry sometimes that in my effort to expand both my presence and my knowledge I let some some things slip through the cracks personally. I'm reminded to be careful when I speak with folks in my arena, those with high-level clearances, many of whom have been discouraged from participating in the online community at all. As they move into the contractor workforce they are ill-prepared to cope with it. As you so accurately point out, this technology isn't going away - it's only growing - and everyone will need to be savvy.


Comment by Steven G. Davis on October 25, 2011 at 11:37pm


Excellent observations, insight and REALITY. SM is here, I am sure it will morph over time, but what continues to amaze me is how SM ignorant most professionals, passive or otherwise are! Of course we/us recruiters use these tools, but we are on the front lines, others are still just getting on the train.  Having a "presence" on line is just another critical peice of the puzzle, thankfully a successful recruiter will use it for good (sounds like a line from a Superhero movie). Of course we use it. I use it daily and will continue to in an effort to further qualify potential candidates for my clients! Thank you for sharing!


Comment by Samantha Lacey on October 26, 2011 at 11:38am

I think we need to draw a line between Facebook checking and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is much more business focussed, so checking out a candidate there is very much in line with our role as recruiters. Checking out what a candidate does in a social setting like Facebook would be akin to watching their behaviour in a bar on a night out with friends.

My Facebook profile is not searchable, and if somebody were to somehow find it all that would be visible would be my profile picture and name. If that picture happens to be of me with a cocktail in my hand (as it is now), how would I be judged by somebody who is tea total. They may think I am a heavy drinker or party girl, when that couldn't be further from the truth as I rarely drink and am actually quite boring). I think engaging with candidates via Facebook needs to be done much more carefully than via LinkedIn, as some people might not think it was appropriate. 

Looking at information out of context is dangerous. How about if the one thing you could see on my profile was a picture of me holding a young baby. You might assume it was mine, whether it was a nephew, cousin or a friend's baby. You might think to yourself "The last young mother we hired left to look after her kids, best sidestep this candidate." This might not happen often, but if a person who has that issue or thinks like that makes a snap judgement without even speaking to me I'd be furious. 


I've also come across a service in USA that promises to check back for a candidates' web history going back 6 years. 6 years ago I was 19, in university and on MySpace all the time. I am not that person any longer, and shudder at the thought of some recruiter or hiring manager making a decision based on an indiscreet comment on a redundant form of social media. I've deleted that account now, but as we know you can never REALLY delete anything from the web. 


Just my thoughts, although I do agree with the points about upping your security settings. You should most definitely get yourselves a private profile and be careful what you say online. 

Comment by Alasdair Murray on October 26, 2011 at 1:25pm

Before the advent of social media, recruiters/employers had to rely on their judgment based on reading through CVs and interviewing people. That they now have to trawl the web for info about a candidate seems a bit silly to me. After all, in time (or when they decide to look for a job)  aren't those with even the slightest bit of intelligence going to rein in/change their social media presence if it's a bit too out there or revealing? And should we really be judging people just because they divulge every aspect of their life down to revealing they are quite the party animal on the weekend or whatever? What kind of workforce do we want to recruit? Saints only? If you can't tell from an interview and a CV what a person is like, if you have to go searching to see if there is any dirt on them, maybe you shouldn't be recruiting people in the first place.

Comment by Suresh on October 26, 2011 at 2:55pm

I suppose if the information is out there, people are going to use it and make a judgement call. Good bad or ugly as it may be. But the bottomline is you want to be who you are...

Even Steve Jobs would not have been hired..considering all the revelations in his biography

Comment by Danielle Powers on October 26, 2011 at 5:01pm

Great feedback and input from everyone. This is an ongoing conversation and like most things there is no true right or wrong but a lot of grey area. I agree with Steven that we must use our powers for good, as recruiters we must make ethical decisions on a daily basis, much of which is around confidentiality, I would trust that most of us use those same ethics when it comes to making judgement on a candidate. A recruiters job is part science and a great deal of art which is subjective. We have to believe that those who are successful in the field are so because of their skill and character as professionals.


When it comes to passing judgement on a candidate because of a cocktail in their hand or because one of the FB "friends" uses profanity every other word, I am doubtful this is the norm.

This goes beyond facebook, there are some online "papers" that post your mugshot online if you were arrested, not even convicted. The ridiculous thing with these types of companies is that you have to actually pay them to have them remove your name/picture because it is public record. That is ludicrous in my eyes but somehow it is happening.


What is interesting and what I have seen is when people call out sick because a family member died yet are posting vacation pictures from the beach or cursing out their employer or boss on Facebook. Should there be no issue with this type of behavior? I know I am a bit off topic but the lines will continue to blur and the bottom line is the more people are educated the better off we will ALL be!  


Thank you for all of the great discussion! Keep it coming!

Comment by Suzanne Levison on October 26, 2011 at 5:51pm

Social Media is a tool for many uses. Prior to this tool, we utilized other means and flourished.

Bottom Line is a Great Match for Client & Candidate.

Let's not lose sight of that no matter our process to achieve the desired goal.

Comment by Ryan Leary on October 28, 2011 at 7:39am

Danielle... I hae not gotten to read the posting yet, but I'd wager that if most recruiters stopped using social media they'd make more placements and be more focused....


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