Social media has played an important role worldwide during the pandemic. It has become the primary way of communicating and socialising for many people, almost overnight.
Underlying this worldwide adoption is a resurgence in the way people used to use social media years ago; to make meaningful connections. Connecting through social media has been a lifeline to retain contact with family and friends. Social networks provide a wide outreach, to a large audience, which contractors can utilise as a valuable tool for self-promotion. Profiles can now act as online resumes, allowing future hirers to view your work, skills and employment history.
Whilst social media is a useful tool for self-promotion, your online presence as a whole acts as a valuable insight for recruiters and end clients when selecting between applicants. Many companies and organisations are now adopting social media checks on shortlisted candidates, particularly at a time when face to face interviews have been largely replaced by zoom or telephone calls.
The use of social media checks is now becoming an integral part of the recruitment process, as they help to provide more of a background than simply just standard recruitment checks such as CV, ID verification and references.
Why are social media checks popular?
Employers carry out such checks to get a more rounded view of applicants. As social media allows individuals to share their own stories and interests, this gives a deeper insight into the personality behind each candidate. With the transparency social media provides, recruiters can identify any behaviours that can, or don’t, fit in with the culture of their organisation or team they are recruiting for.
These checks are seen as a way to potentially reduce the risk of recruiting the wrong person to the organisation – be they on a temporary contract or on something more permanent. Recruiters will be keen to provide their clients with candidates who “fit” the culture of the organisation rather than introduce individuals who could compromise the values and image and disrupt the dynamics of an existing team.
What do social media checks look for?
Risk plays a large part in why companies check social media profiles. Individuals with a close affiliation to a proscribed organisation or illegal activities will immediately present a risk and highly likely be rejected by the recruiter. The more high profile the end client, the more stringent the check to reveal any security issues that the individual could present.
Recruiters will use social media to help validate any information shared by the candidate to check what they have provided is a true account. They may be able to corroborate a candidate’s success at a current or previous employer with any online positive peer reviews such as those available on a candidate’s LinkedIn profile.
An applicant’s social behaviour is possibly the biggest factor reviewed by social media checks. The risk of what is considered to be anti-social behaviour will present far reaching consequences for colleagues and stakeholders, should this not be identified in the recruitment process. Recruiters will be looking for instances where the candidate may have posted content that breached a previous employer’s company policy, leaking of confidential information, or simply showcasing undesirable characteristics.
How the information is presented to the recruiter and by whom also plays a role in how it will be used in the recruitment process. If the recruiter has personally undertaken the checks then it will be difficult for them to be impartial in how they carry the recruitment process forward. Many recruiters are now engaging third party companies to undertake these checks, to ensure the results are placed into context and given the right amount of emphasis.
What social media strategy should I follow?
Although you might now be reaching for the edit function on your social media profile, don’t panic. At the end of the day social media checks aren’t fishing expeditions. The aim of these checks is simply to find a candidate with qualities most suitable for the specific role.
Potential candidates should also be informed by companies early on in the process that such checks will be carried out and that they are aligned and comply with legislation and HR guidelines.
It’s always worth making a good first (online) impression. So here are some useful tips to consider as a candidate:
- Watch what you post: if something is a bit risky or controversial possibly re-think if you should post it. Act as if you were viewing your profile from a stranger’s perspective and ask yourself if it is professional.
- Share your expertise: post on LinkedIn. Answer people’s questions with your own knowledge. This shows hirers you’re willing to engage with others and offer your expertise in a professional capacity.
- Share your personality: companies want personable people in their organisation. So don’t shy away from showing your personality on your accounts, but in an appropriate way. This gives the hirer a better insight into you as a person and if you would fit into their working environment.
- Use your social presence to raise your professional profile. Read our article here to find out more.
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