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Facebook: Not For The Professionals
Before deciding to interview a candidate, you might look at their Facebook page to find out a bit more about them. The candidate might have their privacy settings turned right up, or you might be able to head right in and take a good look around.
Either way, what you can find on a candidate seems to say a lot about them. The number of people in their profile photos, the number of likes their albums receive, and whether they post frequently, can say a lot about their character.
However, Facebook is a deceptively limiting way of telling you how someone handles a work environment. Unlike LinkedIn and Twitter, which are regularly used for industry-focused discussions, Facebook mostly hosts informal conversations between friends and serves content relating to individuals’ interests.
What Employers Look For Online
Whether a hiring manager chooses to use Facebook to screen candidates often depends on the type of company they work for. Companies with a focus on culture will sometimes go through candidates’ profiles to find out whether they’d be a good fit within the team. Candidates applying for these kind of roles generally tailor, or limit third parties’ accessibility to their social presence in order to display the kind of personality these companies would find more palatable.
Then, of course, governments and high-profile companies screen candidates as a means to gauge whether they are likely to say something rash about the company, online or offline. If historic controversial views were found online by journalists or clients, the company could be dunked in hot water.
But, with few exceptions, most of the things hiring managers find on Facebook are an irrelevance to their recruitment drive, and should not be used to influence hiring decisions. For instance, how a person dresses and who they spend their time with doesn’t relate to how they will perform in the role. A good old fashioned CV and cover letter would do a far better job.
Hiring Managers: Take Note
Facebook encourages split-second judgements, but as a hiring manager, these shouldn’t form a large part of your decision to invite a candidate to interview. Although your personal preferences are valued within a company, limiting your company’s exposure to potential talent could damage the business’s bottom line. Facebook could be used as a means to establish common interests, but shouldn’t be used to fuel speculation.
Companies should also be conscious of developing a monoculture by screening candidates through Facebook. Extensive vetting of candidates could filter out a much-needed diversity of opinions from an organisation’s hiring process.
As an employer, you’ll never have control over what’s posted to an employee’s social profile, and that’s no bad thing. Rather than worry about what a candidate posts on social media, focus on how they come across in a professional interview. Develop trust through these interactions, and if necessary, outline appropriate social media use in their contract.
What About Facebook for Work?
Although Facebook has developed communications tools for businesses, such as Facebook for Work, the company’s main services are overwhelmingly used for informal chat between friends. Employers should acknowledge they are trespassing on a candidate’s cyber-turf by viewing their Facebook profile. They don’t really belong there, so shouldn’t expect to be catered for.
Photos from drunken nights out and bad haircuts from late puberty all follow the rules of the game.