Social Media Thought Leadership

Why you should always research a candidate’s social media footprint

Written by the Editorial Team

In the digital age, it doesn’t take much to find information on an individual.

Simply type their name into the search bar on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and there’s a good chance you’ll be presented with an insight into the personal life of your prospective employee.

In the context of a potential date, the findings from the search can be make or break: an unhealthy obsession with cryptocurrencies, a string of emotional tweets or an abundance of post-gym selfies might be enough to make you reconsider. In the context of recruitment, the same logic applies. While it might seem slightly invasive to look beyond LinkedIn, scouring the social media footprint of a candidate could save you a lot of time and effort.

Sure, it may seem like stalking. But this isn’t standing outside someone’s house or raking through their bins for clues of bad behaviour: it’s simply gauging a person’s background by viewing the information they’ve put out there. In 2020, if you’re not scanning social media profiles, you’re only prolonging the talent sourcing process.

Social media as a signpost

Estimates suggest that around 70% of employers used social media to analyse candidates prior to the interview stage. That’s an increase of 59% since 2011. Naturally, this correlates with the sharp rise in users: the role social media plays in the recruitment process has only grown in prominence due to the prevalence of these channels in our daily lives.

Announce the arrival of a new employee to your workforce and watch as they take to LinkedIn to track down their future-team mate and make judgements about how they will perform and who they will be friends with. That’s because social media can truly act as a signpost; it can signal to us whether or not a person is who they say they are and what they value as important.

70% of employers used social media to analyse candidates prior to the interview

If they’ve chosen to present themselves to the world with a car as a Facebook profile picture, for example, you might change your mind about asking them in for an interview.

(After all, a car can do many things, but even a Lamborghini can’t manage a project from start to finish.)

Fact-checking a CV

Today, the preferred social platform of an individual often acts as a window into their personal lives: a little peak can tell you a lot about who they really are. For instance, their CV may have painted them as a thought-leader in the field of content marketing, but a quick social search can reveal the truth: their LinkedIn is a desolate wasteland, their Facebook is full of ancient memes and their Twitter is a stream of retweets.

Similarly, an individual could claim to be a great communicator, but a quick browse through their recent activity could tell you otherwise. Just how likely are you to invite them for an interview based on these findings? Now, what if another candidate was actively taking part in industry discussions and contributing great content? Which would you choose?

If you’re not scanning social media profiles, you’re only prolonging the talent sourcing process

Assessing the culture-fit of a candidate

Beyond fact-checking, social media can help us to gauge whether or not a candidate would fit into the organisational culture we have worked to maintain. An example of this might be a candidate who uses social media to push their political or religious views onto others, or an individual who uses their YouTube account to troll or insult content creators.

Of course, doing a social media search does have its drawbacks. It’s easy to judge a person from their social media profiles using our own beliefs and biases, and we can often find ourselves searching for people who we will like. Rather than judging candidates on our personal preferences, we must use social media to determine their suitability to the role and company culture.

This isn’t a search for new friends, it’s a search for talented professionals: confuse the two and you’ll end up right back at the beginning of the hiring process.