Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yes, recruiters are using Facebook and Twitter to screen candidates

I have been telling my students for years now to be careful about what they post on Facebook and Twitter.

When you apply for a job, I tell them, you may be judged on the basis of your virtual life. So, mind your language.

Think of interesting and intelligent status messages and tweets.

And when you post pictures, think about how these pictures may influence a potential employer. Sure, you may argue that your privacy settings will protect you, but what's to stop a "friend" from copying and forwarding content from your page?

Here's evidence, albeit from a foreign source, that recruiters use social networks to screen candidates.

Want more information? Want to study the infographics closely? Go to Mashable.

And believe me when I tell you that recruiters are dong this in India, too. Why wouldn't they? They get to see the "real" you on Facebook and Twitter, don't they?
  • Thank you, Apar Dham (Class of 2011) for the tip-off.
"The interviewer asked me for my Twitter ID and immediately scanned all my tweets" 
  • From an earlier post Satish Perumal (Class of 2011) writes: We think of Twitter and Facebook as networking tools which we use to keep in touch with friends and relatives. I, too, thought these networking sites were good only for having a... er, good time, an escape tunnel from the real world to the virtual one.

    But I did a rethink recently after a job interview with a social marketing company, Uncut Donut. The interviewer asked me for my Twitter ID and immediately scanned all my tweets, looked at my profile, and tried to get a fix on what kind of topics interest me. I was taken aback a bit by this turn of events and did not know how to react.

    Moral of the story: These networking sites might be fun, but these days they are a launch pad for the careers of many ambitious youngsters. And HR departments use them as recruitment tools too. So go ahead and get cracking with your networking! 
Yes, your Facebook profile and holiday pictures
can convey the wrong impression to recruiters

UPDATE (November 30, 2011): DNA's "After Hrs." section today features a story by Sneha Mahadevan on the monitoring of social networking sites by companies when hiring candidates. There are two examples in the story that illustrate the risks of posting "inappropriate" material on these sites:

Diya Malhotra, 25-year-old marketing professional with an MBA, was being considered for a job at a leading multinational company. After clearing the first round of interviews she was asked to come for the final round of personal interviews, scheduled a week later. When she did come, she was shocked to hear the kind of questions the professionals conducting the interview asked her. "I went in expecting to be asked about my work, but instead they asked me how often I'd go on vacations and how often I party. They even said I wasn't allowed to have an office romance. Initially, it came as a shock to me, but I realised later on that they would have snooped around on my profile on Facebook and seen my holiday pictures. Since then I have changed my privacy settings on social networking sites," she says.

While some have been rejected after being considered potentially reliable candidates, some have fallen into trouble after posting remarks about a co-worker in jest. Surekha Mahadik went through a situation that taught her to never discuss work on a social networking site. "A colleague and I were just routinely catching up on Facebook and happened to say something about another colleague in our team in good jest. She read it, all hell broke loose and the next thing we knew, we were summoned by the HR managers for a lecture on office etiquette," she recalls.

Also read: Facebook: Boon or bane?
  • UPDATE (June 29, 2013): From an article published in Bloomberg Businessweek two days ago: "Think before you post, especially if you’re looking for a job. Seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Yet despite all the advice and warnings to be cautious with social media, job applicants continue to get burned by their online profiles." Read the piece in its entirety here: Hey Job Applicants, Time to Stop the Social-Media Sabotage. 

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