Over the past couple years, Carmine Izzo has seen social media play an increasingly bigger role in how companies do business. One of the latest uses of social media is occurring inside human resource departments and how companies are researching candidates during the hiring and recruiting process.
Izzo, who is president of Amotec Inc., an executive search and staffing solutions firm, has seen firsthand a number of poor social media practices ruin job opportunities for qualified candidates. One that sticks out in his mind was a photo a girl posted on Facebook.
“There was a young lady that we placed at a large chemical company and she passed her pre-employment physical and was offered the job,” Izzo says. “Then they took a look at her Facebook page and there was a photo of her smoking marijuana on her Facebook page and they went back and withdrew her offer.”
Today, companies are embracing social media more and more and human resource professionals are researching potential job candidates on LinkedIn and Facebook to make sure that person is a good fit for their company.
“LinkedIn really jumped in and took a forefront from the professional side, and before any interview, you’re going to LinkedIn and you’re taking a look at people and seeing their social profiles,” Izzo says. “At the same time, Facebook has evolved to not just friends and families trying to keep in touch, but it’s a part of how we are recruiting and how hiring is being done.”
Smart Business spoke to Izzo about what companies and individuals should keep in mind when using social media to find a job or a potential employee.
If a company decides to use social media in the recruitment process, they’ve got to make sure that they’re doing it at the same point in the process every single time. If you don’t do that, there’s a chance that there’s some bias being brought into the interviewing and hiring process. We recommend that you talk to them and bring the candidates in first, interview them and then take a look on their social media site. Then there’s no bias in there and there’s nothing you can say one way or the other.
If you’re going to do it prior to (talking) then you’ve got to take a screen shot so people know what you looked at. You’ve got to assume that the majority of the candidates for these positions all have Facebook accounts, they all have LinkedIn accounts so it’s all on public domain. Each company should have their own social media policy in line to what the hiring practice should be.
Candidates have to make sure that the images that they are trying to portray are professional images. When I look at somebodies Facebook page or LinkedIn I’m looking at how they communicate in writing. We’re going to look at them and critique how they communicate with us. I’m going to look at, depending on what the position is, are they creative? What do they have on their page that says that they’re a good person? At the same time they shouldn’t have any pictures of themselves doing a beer bong, or pictures of themselves doing crazy stuff at a party.
If you’re embarrassed to let your mom, dad or grandparents see or read anything on your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter account, then you shouldn’t have that on it. That’s a pretty good rule of thumb for filtering out information that will tarnish your professional reputation. It’s the same for what people put up on their Facebook wall and how they post communications and links and you have to watch the photos that could possibly portray you in a poor light. If you’re out there aggressively looking for a job, you’ve got to maintain a professional presence at all times and if you’re working in a professional environment your page should be professional.
Make your social media page presentable
If you’re on LinkedIn, you should have a professional headshot. You’re LinkedIn page should almost be your resume sitting there. It gives you a spot to communicate what your successes are in your career so far and you can put in there what you’re looking for or if you’re open for opportunities. It is an electronic resume that you have on file and it should stay 100 percent professional at all times.
Facebook, on the other hand, is more social. Your friends are going to be on it and you’re going to be communicating. I would still keep that and maintain it, not necessarily a professional looking page because it’s supposed to be for when you’re off work, but it still has to be professional enough that you’re not seeing derogatory comments and pictures.
What makes a good Facebook page? It’s how it’s laid out. What they have on there. They’re not mad that they saw that Carmine went to a concert or Carmine went to Cedar Point, but if they see Carmine passed out drunk at the Cleveland Browns game and there’s crazy things going on around him, that’s not the image I would want anyone from my company to see on Facebook.
When I have these talks with high school students we talk about the dos and don’ts of social media. The dos are: express yourself, talk to your friends, but you have to keep a grasp on what’s out there and who’s reading it.
The don’ts are: don’t put anything on there that you wouldn’t want your mom or dad to see and don’t communicate in vulgar language. Remember this is public, so keep your personal business to yourself. Don’t complain on Facebook. I understand it’s an area that you want to vent, but post more successes rather than negative things. Anything you put on there electronically is there for life. You can delete it, but it’s still out there somewhere.
What we’re seeing is social media becoming the norm now in how we do business. If you learn to police yourself in a professional manner you’ll never have any issues. It’s important to remember you’re a brand and you represent yourself on Facebook and LinkedIn.