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Social Media Reference Checking

Posted by Daniel Purchas

Here in Australia we're transitioning from the application phase to the selection and assessment phase in the graduate recruitment cycle for many companies and an article in the last few weeks has been sticking in my mind that I thought might be relevant for some of you out there. It's a contentious subject, do you as a graduate recruiter look up a graduate applicants details on social networking sites such as twitter, facebook or linkedin to get more of an idea of the applicant's personality and private life to see if they will be suitable for your organisation?

Social Media Snooping of Candidates in the USA

The article that spiked my interest in this and how it is handled in Australia recently outlined that many 20 something US based job seekers were hiding themselves in facebook so they couldn't be found by the search functionality. The original article is on CNN and you can read it here. In a survey undertaken by Microsoft, they found that 70 percent of recruiters or hiring managers had rejected a candidate based on information they found online about them.

What's it like here in Australia?

I thought social media 'reference checking' might be a good thing to have a think about at the moment as many organisations are heading into phone screening and assessment centres at the moment.

If your organisation hasn't really thought about policies in regards to this you may want to check out a post on the SKM Graduates Tumblr account which outlines their position on how they will interact with any applicants on social networks, you can view the post here. SKM  has specifically outlined that they will never search for an applicant on facebook or look into the facebook profile of a graduate that fans them on their facebook page. The only social networking tool that they use as an organisation is LinkedIn. I think this policy is definitely an integral part of interacting with graduates online on the social web. To be honest from what I've seen in Australia, many graduate recruiters simply don't have the time to spend hours hunting down applicants on facebook before deciding to take them through to an interview or assessment centre.

My Experiences

Back in the day when I joined a graduate program, it's actually been a few years now, facebook was not nearly as prevalent and pervasive as it is today. When I initially joined a graduate program and connected to the other grads on facebook, I think if there had been extensive reviews of many of their facebook profiles, a lot of them could potentially not have made it to the interviews at all judging by some of their pictures from their uni days and all of them have since gone on to get their careers rolling and are all going strong so maybe what someone does get up to in their private lives, no matter how crazy it is on the surface, isn't a good indicator of how they are going to perform in the work place. We'd be interested to hear from you (anonymously is an option if you like) about whether you have ever done a facebook check on an applicant or what your opinions on the subject are.


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