Caution! Social Media Recruiting Isn’t Fool Proof

Posted by on November 6, 2013 in Hiring [ 0 Comments ]

Using Facebook as a background screening resource requires tact.Is the end of the resume as we know it drawing near? Jerome Ternynck, founder and CEO of SmartRecruiters, explained in the “2013 Recruiting Technology Trends” conducted by, that social media profiles will take over as more accurate channels to learn about an applicant. There’s less scanning of paper documents to glean pertinent information and more clicking on links to find the appropriate content that allows for a fuller portrait of a job seeker. SmartRecruiters indicated 40 percent of job applications included a link to a social media profile as of December 2012.

Related: Avoid Resume Fraud with Background Checks

However, the information that companies take from online profiles may not accurately reflect the character traits of applicants. This is likely because of the assumptions that have become ingrained into the psyches of human resources professionals over the years.

But a study conducted by North Carolina State University’s psychology department titled “Big Five Personality Traits Reflected in Job Applicants’ Social Media Postings” highlights many of the mistakes HR managers make when screening applicants. The study took a cold, hard look at extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and openness to experience. The university used job seeker’s social media profiles and activities – specifically on Facebook – to find out how well their online persona reflects these five personality traits.

Related: Learn where to turn for better background screening

What to Look for (and Then Sometimes Ignore)

Under closest observation were posts that referenced drug or alcohol use and badmouthing. Dr. Lori Foster Thompson, co-author of the study and a professor of psychology at NCSU, explained many companies look to see if an applicant has provided evidence of drug or alcohol use, believing it to be symptomatic irresponsible individuals or people who aren’t conscientious. However, this simply isn’t backed up by the data.

What’s more, companies are likely hurting themselves by screening out these people. Extroverts are more likely to post about their indulgences, and this group of job seekers has some of the most talented candidates for sales or marketing. If you’re going to use Facebook as a recruiting tool, you need to make sure research backs up your decision-making. Relax any prejudices, as extroverted individuals are more likely to be the charismatic people who are needed on your sales team.

On the other hand, your HR managers should keep a watchful eye out for those who badmouth others on Facebook. The research suggested people who didn’t post nasty comments about others were more likely to be agreeable and conscientious.

Related: Online-Based HR: 94% of Businesses Are Now On Board

While Facebook is a cost-effective alternative to other types of recruiting technology, it needs to be used wisely. You may be passing up the most qualified candidates without understanding the role of posting behavior with respect to personality traits that many employers are looking for.

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