Got poked by a recruiter on Facebook? Yes, it may happen to all of us. Be ready!

It is no longer a secret that candidates, when approached, still get surprised. Yes, we researchers, recruiters, sourcers – the folks working in the recruitment industry – do our job using social media channels. Although Twitter, Facebook or Instagram do not primarily seem to be recruitment-designed tools. They very often help talent acquisition teams to contact potential candidates or verify some information such as a candidate’s location.

I am a researcher. I am doing sourcing. In other words, I am (re)searching for people to work. Basically my task is to find people with certain skills and experience. And as I am aiming at candidates located overseas, the best way to find them is through surfing the internet. Fortunately there are different tools to keep my work simpler. But among my favorites are definitely job-boards and any other job-dedicated websites where candidates create their profiles on purpose; they are aware that they may be reached regarding job opportunities.

But when it is too difficult to find someone who has never been contacted by my teammates, I use the help of my beloved Facebook. I must admit that using it, whether for a personal or professional reason, might be “entertaining”. Sometimes it seems like everyone knows it all. That this is so obvious that it is better not to reveal some of your private stuff than to reveal it at all. Still, I get surprised when I do my research through Facebook. Like one of my colleagues mentioned in his article posted on PeopleCorner, “social media is inescapable”. It is almost impossible not to be present in social media channels – but at least if you are there – do it right!

Every single social media channel is followed by its different rules and purposes. That is why users may vary on each channel. Something that is allowed on your personal Facebook account is not necessarily good or appropriate to be posted on a professional LinkedIn or internal communicator at work (such us Slack or Yammer). This works both ways. On the other hand, social media’s primary purpose is to have fun while using it. Yes, I agree! But just in case, make sure you’re “having fun” in a private mode among people you trust. Do not risk your professional image.

On numerous occasions I have decided not to contact a candidate due to what I have seen on their Facebook wall. I am usually dealing with client-facing roles. This is why I especially believe that people carrying those positions or those who may be potentially considered for those positions should be aware of their image displayed in social media channels the most. In Facebook we mostly use our original names, which makes it very easy for someone to find a person’s personal profile. Listed along with someone’s name is their current location or city where they grew up. Many people also keep information on their education or employer available to be seen. All that makes it very simple to associate a person on Facebook with the one from their resume found on a job board.
There are certain topics which I would recommend to avoid when posting on Facebook (not only to the public audience).

Among these I would mention:

  • Politics, as it is a sensitive topic (even among your friends and relatives)
  • Religious topics marking anti-religious thoughts (obviously inappropriate online or offline)
  • Work-related complaints and badmouthing your boss, co-workers or clients
  • Job-related information you do not want to accidentally reveal something confidential
  • Private data
  • Sexual or explicit content on statuses or displayed in photos
  • Current issues that are objectionable and may widely divide society/community
  • Relaying and displaying content on drug and alcohol stories (“what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”)
  • Any other content that may be construed as controversial or inappropriate

 

First impressions are significant. Any negative image of the candidate may impact whether or not a recruiter will contact a candidate. People who do not maintain their privacy on the internet may also have problems maintaining the privacy of their employer or clients. The question arises whether or not an employer would like to contact, or even work with them at all.

A strong example that I have comes from my search for a candidate for a job that required dealing with cash on a daily basis. I was shocked when I found publicly posted pictures that seemed to be taken at work of that candidate posing with money from the drawer. The candidate did not think about hiding the company’s logo or anything that could be associated with its brand. Obviously, it was for fun, but I am not sure if this would be funny for the employer.

There are other countless situations I have experienced, and I’m sure anyone in the industry that I work with could share similar experiences. Sometimes we laugh about it, sometimes we regret that we cannot “unsee” it. This article’s goal is not to point blame. Nobody’s perfect; neither am I. My point is to show that there is always room for improvement, and monitoring your privacy settings in social media channels may be necessary.

Last, but not least, is something that does not provide a good impression is when people reply to my messages about a job opportunity using “loose” language they use on social media. They don’t consider grammar, punctuation, and general manners when writing. I would not decline a candidate based on that alone, but it sticks in mind as a first impression of that person.

My advice is simple: when you are not sure about the content of your social media statuses, or you are driven by strong emotions (many of us have those moments), better to let it go. Social media is not the platform, especially to a public audience. You never know who is looking at your profile. Speaking of that, I think I’ll go check my profile settings now. 😉

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