Social Media for Recruiting | 8 Ways to Peel The Onion

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Social Media for Recruiting | 8 Ways to Peel The Onion

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Do you remember the sickening feeling that you got when you finally came to the realization that the all-star you had hired three months ago was no all-star at all? I have probably felt this queasiness 100’s of times over the past 37 years while recruiting salespeople. Occasionally I have gotten so damn mad that I have wanted to knock that person over the head and then skin them! I knew that, whatever was inside, this was not the person that I had hired. Make that … not the person that I thought I had hired. 

Wouldn’t it be better if we peeled back that onion before we brought them on-board as opposed to having to skin them three months later? I think so. In fact, in the short and long runs, it’s going to be preferable for all parties involved. Skinning is even less pleasant for the skinned than it is for the skinner

The simple fact is that every one of us has a least two personas: business and personal. On an interview we are presented with the business persona. And, who do we see on Facebook? Bingo, personal persona! Which person do you think will show up in your office? Likely you will see elements of both but, if the personal part of this mix is a non-starter for you and for your company, it’s far better to find out now. 

Are recruiters currently using social media? According to Bullhorn Reach (a very good resource, by the way) … 

  • While 48% of recruiters are using LinkedIn, only 21% reported using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (all three).
  • LinkedIn gets 5.7 times more job views than Facebook and 3 times more views than Twitter.
  • LinkedIn holds, or increases, these same leads in terms of job applications by network.

 Online reputations do matter! In 2010 Microsoft commissioned a study of “Online Reputation in a Connected World”. These percentages today are very likely higher …

  •  “The recruiters and HR professionals surveyed are not only checking online sources to learn about potential candidates, but they also report that their companies have made online screening a formal requirement of the hiring process.”
  • “Of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals surveyed, 70% say they have rejected candidates based on information they found online.”
  •  “In all countries, recruiters and HR professionals say they believe the use of online reputational information will significantly increase over the next five years.”
  • “Positive online reputations matter. Among U.S. recruiters and HR professionals surveyed, 85% say that positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions at least to some extent. Nearly half say that a strong online reputation influences their decisions to a great extent.”

Should recruiters be snooping around social networking sites? Some may question if this activity is moral let alone legal. You and your God can determine the morality aspect. From a legal standpoint, and I am not an attorney, it seems to me that if somebody wants to hang their dirty laundry in full public view, that is their choice. If their profiles are potentially damaging, they either can’t figure out how to make them private or they are not even smart enough recognize that these public behaviors might actually reflect poorly on them as a potential hire. This now has becomes their problem, not yours or mine.

On the flip side, if they really are all-stars, here’s a very visible opportunity for them to demonstrate that! If they do choose lock down their public profiles to prevent prying eyes, this does not necessarily mean that they have something to hide. If anything, I’m encouraged by the fact that they at least have enough technical savvy to be able to do that.  Let’s get out the peeler.

Google Search – Doing a general search would seem to be a no-brainer. That being said, when I do a search, I am looking for many things including: number and type of hits, links to their specific social profiles, mentions of them in articles, social profiles that I might find outside of the big four (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, & Google+), and … gulp … any criminal or civil action records that might show up. You might also check for images. Finally, take a closer look at Google’s Advanced Search functions.

Google News – This is much like Google Search but with a couple of key differences. You can choose to separately search for this person in either the news or on the web. You can also create alerts as each search you complete comes with a convenient RSS feed button located at the bottom of that page. Google Alerts performs a similar function. Just the other day, Google announced that they are killing off Google Reader which may be my favorite application. I’m more than a little bummed about this but, I’m already switching to Feedly and you can place your search RSS URL into this reader as well as many other reader apps. Why would you want to do this? You might uncover something you missed in a general search and, if this is a lengthy interviewing process, you just might get an important update on this person prior to the position being offered and accepted.

Mention – Mention is a relatively new application and I have only just now started playing with it. It does hold promise as it will scan the web and Twitter and Facebook and create alerts based on your specified keywords (think candidate name). There are both free and paid plans and you can also earn credits on your free plan by inviting others to join.

 Applications like Mention can be excellent social media resources for recruiting

 Image courtesy of

and Facebook. There are both free and paid plans and you can also earning credits on your free plan by inviting others t

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the business network and it is the business network for recruiters. Some people may choose to show nothing or close to nothing on their public profiles but these folks would be the exception rather than the norm. I choose to display everything that is available on a public profile because I want to attract people. So, if you were to look at my profile and we were not connected 1st degree, you would still see … my work history, who we share as common connections (if any), my skills and expertise, and the groups that I belong to on LinkedIn. My updates will also be public as may well be a number of other areas. 

The point is, even a LinkedIn public profile can be very revealing! You might also wish to take that resume and job application that you have on file and compare it to their profile on LinkedIn in order to discover any irregularities or discrepancies. If you are connected 1st degree, Be sure to look at their skills/endorsements, recommendations, and who else they may be connected to. 

Groups can be very powerful and you do not need to be directly connected to anybody who shares membership with you in a group but, you still have the ability to engage with all members. If you are recruiting for a specific industry or position, you will want to find and join these groups if for nothing else, the potential talent pool. 

LinkedIn also has a very powerful and advanced search engine including a reference search. Learn to use these! If you are a serious recruiter, or you are working for a larger company, consider one of LinkedIn’s Premium Talent Solutions accounts. 

Twitter – Twitter is wide open! You can choose to follow anybody. They may or may not choose to follow you back but the likelihood of them blocking you is pretty close to nil. Now we get deeper into that public persona. What are they talking about? What lists have they created? What lists do others have them on? If one or more people have them on a list named “dirt bags”, there might be a red flag there. What kind of images and links are they sharing? Who else are they talking to? Maybe you already know some of their friends? Twitter has some very attractive elements for recruiters! Twitter also has quite advanced search functions. 

Facebook – Welcome to the land of social transparency. I am constantly amazed by what people my age will put on Facebook let alone the younger crowd! I’m far from being a prude but, what might you deduce from the professional person who was discussing his then current employer and co-workers and was labeling them as “losers, drug addicts, and alcoholics”? Incredible! If for one minute you think that you have Facebook’s privacy controls figured out, most of us (including me) would be dead wrong! There’s annoying issues like your best friend who tags you in a drunken photo or shares one of your particularly damning updates to those who are in their networks yet outside of yours. Facebook’s new graph search that is staring to roll out to users will potentially offer some additional interesting benefits for recruiters. Yes indeed. For a recruiter, here is where the action is. It’s the perfect opportunity to get introduced to your new employee before they even set foot in your door. 

Google+ – Google+ is fairly new and it is where Business meets Facebook. What I have found is that most people who are active on Facebook will not be found much on Google+ and vice versa. It is more conversational and personal than LinkedIn would be. The mix is heavy on male and even heavier on early adopters. Google+ does have some pretty nice search features allowing you to look for: everything, people and pages; communities (groups), Google+ posts, hangouts (group video-conferencing), events, from a specific location, and mentions from just you, to you, or from your circles (lists). 

Premium Applications – While these are not endorsements, both Jobvite and The Resumator offer applications, including social media elements, which are specifically designed for recruiters. Jobvite, in particular, is another great resource for industry tips and whitepapers! 

Do have any great suggestions that you would be willing to share with others? How have you put social media to work for you in your recruiting efforts? What works for you and what does not? Did you ever save a boat-load of money by doing your social media homework before making that job offer? If so, please share your story!

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Craig M. Jamieson
Craig M. Jamieson is a lifelong B2B salesperson, manager, owner, and a networking enthusiast. Adaptive Business Services provides solutions related to the sales professional including Boise's best B2B leads group, NetWorks! Boise Valley. We are a Nimble SCRM Solution Partner and a Value Added Associate for TTI Performance Systems. Craig also conducts training and workshops primarily in social selling and communication skills. Craig is also the author of "The Small Business' Guide to Social CRM", now available on Amazon!
Craig M. Jamieson


Social Sales Trainer and Author Helping Businesses To Increase Their Revenues - Nimble SCRM Solution Partner, TTI VAA, Own & Operate a B2B Networking Group
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Craig M. Jamieson
Craig M. Jamieson

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