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Dana WilsonMost job candidates don’t consider the power of the social networking Web sites and the impact they have on hiring decisions. If they did, they’d think twice about the information they place on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Companies are more savvy about getting the lowdown on candidates today than they were in the past. Social networking sites make employers’ and staffing companies’ jobs a lot easier because they provide a bird’s-eye view of candidates’ personalities and character.

Underestimate power of social networking sites

Organizations monitor social networking sites for two basic reasons.

  1. they want to see what candidates are saying about them, and
  2. they want to gather information about them. For example, they’re looking at Twitter to find out who is saying bad things about them. Employees and job candidates don’t realize that they are or were ambassadors for their organizations. They could wind up paying a hefty price for having a less-than-stellar presence on the Web.”

Aside from picking up scuttlebutt and rumours, companies and staffing firms are also using the sites to verify information. Often they’ll find that information on resumes and job application forms doesn’t jibe with information found on Facebook or LinkedIn.

While companies and staffing companies rank information found on social networking sites differently, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn are the favorites. First they’ll do a Google search to pick up general information. Next, they’ll check Twitter, followed by LinkedIn to get an overall picture of candidates.

Take the hint and think twice about using social networking sites. A LinkedIn page makes sense if you want to present a polished and professional business image. It certainly makes it easier for organizations to check out employees’ references. If your goal is to build a solid professional image, keep your politics and personal viewpoints to yourself.

Here is some solid advice that’s worth heeding: If you have to think twice about placing information on a social networking Web site, don’t do it. Once information is out there, it can’t be retracted or edited. If you post information on a social networking site, keep it truthful and noncontroversial.

How about bringing back objectivity?

Despite the impact of social networking sites, there are many consulting and staffing companies that are still basing hiring decisions on candidates’ resumes, interview performance and extensive reference checks.

Some go even further and advise business clients to also use psychometric tests as a hiring gauge. These tests consistently deliver precise readings on candidates’ abilities and whether they’ll be a compatible organizational fit.

The good part about the written tests, which typically take about an hour, is that they measure candidates by several variables, and character is one of them. The tests reveal whether the candidate has the aptitude, job and social skills necessary to perform a particular job. Or, if a candidate has most of the essential skills but has weak interpersonal skills, for example, the tests also indicate that targeted training can bring the candidate up to speed. If you start with the premise that no candidate is perfect, all it takes is a few months of intensive training, and high-potential candidates can be turned into confident and consistent performers.

Dana is an Edmonton-based freelance writer.

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character major hiring determinant

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