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Grow Your Business Your Team

Social Status: Hiring with Social Media in Mind

Social Status: Hiring with Social Media in Mind

Whoever thought that spending time on Facebook would be good for your career?

While it might be a bit of a stretch, the reality is that with social media now established as a potent marketing tool, more businesses are seeking employees with large online followings.

“Employers nowadays are keen on hiring people who appear to ‘get’ social media,” said Le Andre Scott, a recruiter with the New York-based staffing firm TTS.

“Having lots of friends on social sites shows a candidate is interested in cutting- edge and emerging trends,” Scott said.

Seeking social media-savvy candidates is tempting. After all, those Facebook friends are potential customers, right?

Maybe. But, you still need to be careful that you're hiring the person and not their social media alter ego.

Quality over quantity

If a job candidate’s massive online following dazzles you, take a closer look.

John Martorana, who heads the Lambertville, N.J.-based Oxford Communications, said that when he scopes out a candidate’s online presence, he looks for engaged, influential followers , even if their ranks are relatively small.

“Quality followers, themselves influencers across a spectrum of media, trump quantity of followers,” Martorana said.

His company looks closely at who is following a job candidate, seeking the extent to which the candidate interacts with his or her followers and the candidate’s “track record with shaping the discussions and actions of their followers,” he said. “It’s not how many followers you have, but what you do with them that counts”

Walk the walk

It’s easy to talk about social media, but using it to your advantage (or to a client’s) is more difficult.

Richard Laermer, CEO of the New York-based RLM PR, said he's learned to differentiate between job candidates who know how to harness social media from those who just spout the words they think he wants to hear.

“I don’t want to hear how popular [job candidates] are,” Laermer said, adding that he prefers candidates who have experimented with a Ning site, used social media to help a client, or who have deployed it in a way that proves it excites them.

An example of a candidate who merely feigns social media savvy, Laermer said, is someone who arrives for an interview only to talk about his large Twitter following and his plans to start a blog, but who has yet to follow Laermer’s company’s Twitter feed or determine what his blog would cover.

It pays to ask a job candidate to prove he walks the social media walk as well as talks the talk.

Social media presence

Assessing a potential employee's overall social media presence is a good idea, too. Since the very idea is that these social media users will be spreading the word about your company, it's important to determine that they'll be spreading the right message.

A few years ago, Angela Nielson thought she’d found the perfect designer and coder for her creative agency, the Los Angeles-based One Lily Inc.  "He was very well qualified, had similar design aesthetic, and was a top-notch coder," she said.

But Nielson was shocked when her Google search of the potential employee yielded a litany of comments and posts bashing organized religion and its followers.

Nielson called the candidate to talk about the posts, asking if he would consider removing some.

“Not because I didn’t honor his own opinions,” Nielson said. “But simply because I feared it would give a very bad impression of my company.”

The candidate proceeded to yell at her for three minutes. “Suffice it to say, he never became an employee,” she said.Sully's 'Miracle' Jet Makes Final Trip on Wings of Social Media