Recruiters do check social media feeds to find, screen candidates

Experts say maintaining professional online presence is important for job seekers

Seventy percent. That’s the percentage of employment recruiters using social media to screen candidates, according to a recent CareerBuilder study.

The online employment company’s study surveyed 2,380 private sector hiring and human resource professionals selected from a variety of industries and company sizes.

As job search tools and application processes become increasingly adapted to electronic forms, recruiters are turning to digital resources to promote jobs and seek potential candidates.

“Social media can help us reach out to so many more people now,” said Crystal McCollum, branch manager and senior staffing specialist at Manpower in Kennewick.

McCollum and her team maintain several social media channels — both for the local branch and at the corporate level — to market current job opportunities, as well as to reach potential candidates and screen them.

McCollum cited Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Snapchat.

“Everything (on Snapchat) isn’t always real professional or real serious, but it’s amazing how much attention you can draw with a curve ball—funny ones, attention grabbers,” she said.

The CareerBuilder survey found 54 percent of hiring professionals opted not to hire based on what they observed on a candidate’s social media profiles.

“When I look at someone’s Facebook page, usually it’s done to screen out folks who are overly political, share inappropriate photos, or post negative comments regarding past employers,” said Brian Wurdeman, president and engineering and construction recruiting consultant at BW Search Group in Kennewick.

On the flip side, “it’s great if I see them doing things like community service, contributing to causes, or have a ‘good citizen’ vibe,” Wurdeman said.

McCollum said she checks candidates’ social media feeds “to see — depending on the client and what job position it is — how they really are and how are they selling themselves on social media … about 80 percent of my clients will go in and look too.”

CareerBuilder recommends current job holders moderate the content on their profiles because 51 percent of employers use social networking sites to research current employees, and 34 percent have discovered content that substantiated admonishment or termination.

Job boards and search engines, especially big names like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder, WorkSource, LinkedIn, Google Jobs and Craigslist, are key resources for job seekers and employers alike.

“Businesses pay a lot to place postings on job boards,” said McCollum, who reported many Manpower branches have found success with Craigslist postings, a cheaper option.

McCollum explained how businesses and recruiters are leveraging popular social media platforms to advertise job openings. The idea is that passive job seekers might come across job-related posts or advertisements on social media and be inspired to apply.

“In this way we are able to reach people not actively looking for a new job. It brings job hunting into the mainstream and is making a huge impact,” McCollum said. “We’re getting just as much traction off social media as the high prices paid on ZipRecruiter and Indeed.”

Jason M. Jones, owner of Express Employment Professionals’ Kennewick branch, said, “Craigslist is often used for industrial and skills/trade-type positions, where Indeed, CareerBuilder and LinkedIn are typically better resources for office and administrative-type jobs.”

Wurdeman said he pays for a premium LinkedIn account to reach out to anyone on the site without having to be a “first connection,” or someone you’re directly connected to.

“Job boards like CareerBuilder and Indeed are great for finding active job seekers, but often I am looking for the ‘needle in a haystack’ out there, and LinkedIn is by far the way to go,” Wurdeman said.

Not having an online presence can pose an issue, too. CareerBuilder’s survey found 57 percent of recruiting professionals are less likely to interview a candidate who doesn’t have an online presence.

“I try not to lean too heavily on what’s seen on social media,” Jones said. “I don’t want to hold it against an applicant, but if I’m choosing between two people, and one posted something questionable, it’s hard not to factor that in and choose the other candidate.”

“This shows the importance of cultivating a positive online persona. Job seekers should make their professional profiles visible online and ensure any information that could negatively impact their job search is made private or removed,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

Social networking platforms also enable recruiters to find additional references among a prospective job seeker’s connections.

“I can get better references if we have common friends, or there might be people they’re connected to that I might want to get a hold of—not a person they gave as a reference ahead of time,” McCollum said.

“The higher level the job, the more integral it is. If (the job) is long-term, administrative or requires a higher skill set, I go into greater depth to acquire background information and character and work references,” she said.

The ability to track down former employers and others not listed on an application may cause concern among job seekers.

“Reference checks are part of our standard process. We still expect two reference checks, because résumés — you can’t trust them. There is a high percentage of inaccuracies,” Jones said.

Jones indicated these inaccuracies often concern the length of time someone is employed and job duties.

Michigan-based AllisonTaylor, which has been checking references for corporations and people since 1984, said despite company policies to the contrary, supervisors may still disclose negative feedback on a former employee when queried.

A negative review nondisclosure clause in a company’s policy protects former employees in their future job hunting endeavors.

“It’s good for the employee, because if they were a terrible employee for whatever reason, they may have really turned themselves around since then,” Jones said.

AllisonTaylor recommends concerned job seekers have a reputable third party perform a reference check.

If applicable, legal recourse may be available via attorney in the form of a cease-and-desist letter delivered to former employers.

On the other hand, “my experience lately is that reference letters are not very important,” Wurdeman said. “Companies are willing to take more risk in hiring since the market for talent is so tight. It’s been years since a hiring manager asked me to provide a reference letter or a list of references.”

McCollum reported some large recruiting firms don’t even meet people face-to-face anymore for some jobs.

“Social media and the internet can’t take the place of everything when hiring good people,” she said. “The face-to-face interactions do wonders. We’d love to place people based off résumés, but we have to get to know them and have that conversation … we want to see that initiative.”

Jones advises job seekers to not limit their opportunities. “They might come in wanting a full-time job and are leery of taking seasonal or part-time work to get by, but … if you do a good job, they’ll find a reason to keep you … especially in the midst of this talent shortage,” he said.

He advises job seekers and employers alike to “use all the tools available to you.”

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