Guest post by Valerie J. Wilson
What can you find out about a job candidate’s background, personality, work ethic, habits, hobbies, character, friends, and life? Because of social media and quick Google searches, that information is now incredibly easy to attain and helps you in your small business management practices. Think about the questions that can be answered by taking a look into the candidate’s online reputation:
1. How often has she/he switched jobs?
It’s as easy as a quick glance at someone’s LinkedIn account. Be on the lookout for the timeframe that is listed next to each job. If there is a big gap and/or a lot of jobs listed in a short amount of time, this can be in indicator that he or she may have been out of work on a regular basis. It could also be a strong indicator that your applicant can’t hold a job, as well. There may be completely legitimate reasons why someone could be out of work—or the person may have been fired—several times over. It’s worth investigating.
2. Is her/his personality friendly, likable, and...normal?
Pictures and posts are worth a thousand words, aren’t they? We aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but you can surely tell if someone is friendly, upbeat, and fun to be around. Of course, social media can be just a bunch of frosting; it can cover what lies beneath, but it safe to say that the pictures and posts will probably reveal at least a bit about what you’re looking to investigate. Consider, too, that people get fired in an instant for one wrong post; just ask this guy who worked at Chrysler. Does your job candidate post pictures that reveal the qualities you’re looking for?
Take a look at the photos posted by some of your candidate’s “friends.” Are they represented in a way that will make your company proud?
3. What kind of attitude does he/she have?
Oh, those Tweets and Updates! Be on the lookout for patterns that you’re seeking—or that you’re hoping to avoid. If, for example, you’re searching for a people-person for a sales position, see if you can’t find someone who interacts really well with her online friends. Is she “chatty”? Is she engaging and warm? Or is there a pattern of negativity, seeing the glass as half-empty, and being a real complainer? Consider the behaviors that you see exemplified in the various posts. Remember, this is only one portion of a person’s life that you’re looking at, and it does not reveal the entire picture. There could be information out there that is unfair, biased, or based on a personal vendetta. You may find ugly comments from a disgruntled former colleague or worker, and it’s wise to take these with a grain of salt. Take for example, this memoir that describes how a true enemy or ex-colleague can seek revenge by creating an online attack.
People can and do participate in ill-advised antics at times, so it really is important not to make all decisions about a candidate based solely on an online personality. Social media can, however, inform you of your candidate in a more general way, since profiles are created by both the candidate and other people who have something to say about the candidate. Most applicants still provide a list of character and professional references, but their online presence can give a potential preview of what they could bring to your office environment. As always, challenge yourself to consider the whole picture and the whole person.
Valerie J. Wilson is a freelance who often writes about marketing, business, education, health, and wellness. You can find her on Twitter @valeriejwilson1.