Monday, September 22, 2008
Social Media and the Job Interview You Don't Know You're Having
But what about the interview you don't even know you're having? What if right this second, a potential employer is interviewing you and you're not even aware?
If that sounds absurd, then you've not considered what Social Media transparency means to the recruiting and candidate-selection process. We speak a lot about the impact of transparency to brands--that consumers know and share more, creating increased pressure on business to be honest and authentic. But how about when the shoe is on the other foot?
We all tend to be pretty casual in our Social Networks. My profile image on Facebook is of me holding a martini; a quick review of my last 20 Twitter posts show I had two misspellings; and I occasionally mention politics in my Twitter posts--it is election season, after all!
I would never walk into an interview holding a martini glass, share a resume with grammar errors, or talk politics with a hiring manager, so should I do these things in my Social Media interactions? There is no single answer to that; every individual will need to make that decision for themselves. It's easy to overlook, but the fact is our Social Media information isn't just accessible to the people who know us and can put that information into context; it's available to anyone for any purpose, including clients, bosses, coworkers, subordinates, prospects, friends, foes, and potential employers.
Is it "fair" for employers to seek out this information and use it for the purposes of hiring decisions? Before you answer that, ask yourself if it's "fair" that a single Comcast technician falling asleep in a consumer's home has become an embarrassment seen around the world by 1.3 million people on YouTube. As consumers, we are glad for the power and transparency of Social Media, but in the same way Social Media allows consumers to see past the marketing at the real company behind the ads, it also allows potential employers to see past your marketing at the real you behind the resume.
Fair or not, employers are gathering information about candidates from Social Networks. MarketingVox shares the results of a CareerBuilder.com nationwide survey of some 3,100 employers. The study found that 22% of hiring managers say they use social-networking sites to research job candidates, double the amount that said this in 2006.
So, what are they looking for? The number one area of concern, cited by 41 percent of survey participants, were candidates who posted information about their drinking or using drugs. (Perhaps I should replace my martini photo with a more professional image?) A close second concern was candidates posting provocative or inappropriate photographs or information. Other potential employment issues in Social Media include poor communication skills, bad-mouthing a previous company or fellow employees, and discriminatory remarks relating to race, gender, religion, etc. You can even get dinged for the screename you choose!
The information you share on Social Networks can hurt your employability. One-third (34 percent) of hiring managers reported they found content that caused them to dismiss a candidate from consideration. On the other hand, 24 percent of hiring managers who researched job candidates via social-networking sites say they found content that helped to solidify their decision to hire a candidate.
How professional is your Social Media image? Check out the article on MarketingVox and you may soon find yourself polishing your online profile and altering your Social Media behavior.
Note: I'm on vacation this week but worked a little ahead to keep the content flowing on this blog. If you comment, I won't be able to read and respond to your message until this weekend.