Log onto Social Networking Sites to Check out Job Applicants

Paul Mah

You might remember that I wrote in the past that the poor economy should not stop SMBs from hiring. Despite the news of layoffs from a number of large corporations, a survey I cited there found that 43 percent of small business owners reported late last year that they were "not negatively affected by the current climate."


However, it is also true that a large proportion of office workers have admitted that they will steal corporate data if they are suddenly fired. Indeed, the recent Fannie Mae case is a definite case in point that some workers will perform actions that will gravely harm their organizations as revenge for injustices, perceived or otherwise.


Unfortunately, trying to ascertain the character or integrity of staffers before hiring is a daunting task. I have heard from business leaders who admitted that when all is said and done, the process of hiring requires some measure of "blind faith." With this in mind, how then can the SMB, with more limited resources to conduct exhaustive background checks, bolster their chances in hiring the right people?


The answer could well be through the use of social networking sites.


According to Silicon.com, a survey of HR and business managers in the United Kingdom has revealed that 32 percent of them already use the Internet this way. They scour the Net and social networking sites to gather additional background and behavior information pertaining to potential hires and even existing employees.


I am not advocating that judgment be passed based on a number of insensitive remarks, or even a drunken photo or two. However, additional information pertaining to matters such as maturity, work ethics and character could well be gleaned this way.


Do they really think that their current boss is a jerk, or that their colleagues are losers? It might be true; then again, maybe they might feel the same about you a few months later. Perhaps they really hate doing system administration-related tasks, or dread the responsibilities inherent in a team leader. If they are applying for a job with these duties, the question becomes, why? On the other hand, do they seem well-liked by their peers? That is surely a good sign for someone coming in for a consulting or sales role.


Tapping on social networking sites to check out job prospects is not the only means to the end. However, it is certainly an avenue that bears checking out.

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