Portrait of fearful couple peeking through torn paper A survey was recently conducted by CareerBuilder where it was found that 60% of employers are now screening candidates on social media. So let us ask, do you screen candidates on social media? This advice will be helpful for all your future hires.

 

Which industry hiring managers and recruiters have made social media screening as part of their hiring process?

•    76% IT/tech

•    65% Sales

•    61% Financial services

•    59% Healthcare

•    59% Retail

•    56% Recruiting

 

It’s obvious why the numbers are so high in tech, sales and financial services, especially for more visible occupations that require a social media presence. The consequences of an embarrassing social media photo are high for someone with a big following, or for someone who should by rights be expected to know better. There isn’t such a big risk for average workers who may have a much bigger divide between their working and personal lives. But as more and more people are fired or penalised for their behaviour on social media, it’s clear that everyone in any sector needs to be careful about what they share on social media, as employers in all sectors are taking social media more seriously. And as a former retail recruiter and social media screenings are increasingly a part of basic due diligence, especially when it comes to hiring young workers.

 

Recruiters and hiring managers need to be careful not to cross boundaries in their recruitment process, for example hiring on dating sites is odd. Research on candidates is normal, and it’s encouraged. You can learn about candidate interest, belief and self-image.  It’s been said that what we share isn’t just who we are and what we like, but how we want to be seen by friends and strangers alike.

 

It’s common knowledge that all sorts of people might look at our social media accounts, and this includes employers, law enforcement and even cyber bullies looking for their latest target. We only ever over share because we felt safe to do so, or we don’t think anyone will see the post or we genuinely are convinced that social media is a bubble of free, private space.

 

What employers are looking for?

•    60% are checking up on your qualifications

•    53% want to check out your online persona and see if it’s “professional.”

•    30% want to know what your friends and colleagues think of you

•    21% are looking for dirt

 

It’s important to recognise that the top three reasons recruiters and hiring managers are checking up on your social media accounts are legitimate and sensible. Background and reference checks are a basic part of every hiring process. It’s now highly common for organisations to test cultural fits increasingly common for organisations to test for cultural fit with multi-day interviews, effectively trial periods, where candidates come into the office and work with the team. We want to know if you’ll be a good fit for the job and the organisation, not just for their knowledge but for the candidates.

 

The majority of recruiters and hiring managers that check up on your social media accounts just want to get to know you better as a person,  to understand how you think and work, and to get a sense of whether or not you’re the right fit for the existing team. That’s a positive thing. If you want the job, you should be open to communicating with recruiters and hiring managers outside of the formal interview process. If you’re reluctant to allow them access to your accounts or simply don’t maintain any, you may find yourself penalised and end up unsuccessful in your job search.

 

•    6% have requested access to private accounts

•    68% have been granted access (down from 80%)

•    41% are less likely to hire if they can’t find information about the candidate

 

While it’s true that not being able to find out anything about a candidate is a red flag — it’s 2016, why are you not on Facebook? No matter how much you hate it or think it’s not needed, recruiters certainly shouldn’t penalise candidates for wanting to maintain boundaries. I don’t think that denying a request for access is really a red flag, but if you’ve got your entire social media presence, from Facebook to Instagram on private, you haven’t just kept out the creepers, you’ve kept out the recruiters and hiring managers who really just wanted to learn more about you. If this is THE job, the one you’ve been dreaming about or at least an important stepping stone, you might want to consider letting the right one in.

 

Understand that it’s common now for recruiters and hiring managers to dig a little deeper when screening candidates and cultivate a social media presence that’s welcoming to them – particularly to those in your industry, what have you got to hide? Protect your privacy by being careful about what you share and perhaps maintaining some accounts for personal use — Facebook is perfect for this, despite its security weaknesses, because everyone is on it. Engage with people in your industry and try to cultivate a social media presence that’s professional but true to you.

 

Remember, recruiters and hiring managers aren’t out to get you; they just want to know if you’re the right one to let into their company.

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