Like it or not, your social media activity is your very public personality resume.
Last month, Jobvite released the results of its annual social recruiting survey, which showed that 92% of recruiters vet candidates’ social media profile before offering them a job.
The majority – 87% – of snooping is done on LinkedIn, but Facebook (43%) and Twitter (22%) are increasingly being used to “find the right fit”.
And it’s not just your enthusiasm for marijuana use they’re looking for. Of the 1600 recruiting and human resources professionals Jobvite surveyed, 72% said they view typos in your status updates as negative and 60% rank “culture fit” as highly important. Only experience ranks higher (67%).
It works both ways, too. According to Jobvite, 59% of job seekers use social media to research the company culture of organisations they are interested in.
If all that sets your mind racing back through all the potentially damaging under-the-influence posts you might have made, Australian website The Social Index might be able to help.
Recently launched under the guidance of HR and recruitment executive Fiona McLean, The Social Index is a tool which can reveal “high-level insights into a job seeker’s digital footprint”.
In a nutshell, if you’re on the verge of being offered a job, your potential employer will let you know they want to check out your social media activity, and ask to access your profiles.
With that information, The Social Index uses an algorithm to aggregate insights from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to build a high level report on your online persona. A handy tool for recruiters then.
But when she launched it to a test bed of big business, corporate and tertiary clients, McLean was “blown away” by the unexpected number of people were asking if they can order their own report.
“The individual report is something we thought would be useful in the future however the interest has exceeded our expectations,” she says.
“I’ve had job seekers reach out from all over Australia and overseas seeking a report on how they ‘stack up’ online.”
So there was only one thing to do – try it ourselves and see if any employer in their right mind would hire us.
Here’s how it unfolded:
Start with some basic information.
Slightly anxious, but I guess it’s just to confirm all your social media profiles match up. For no real reason, I still pixelated a few things for this post, even though they’re not hard to find.
Yes, of course you can have my CV
Begin giving away all your authorisations
This is where it started to get a bit creepy.
Note you’re allowing The Social Net to do a few things (although they promise not to).
Facebook is by far the hardest profile to bring myself to authorise. This feels like letting someone go through my house and check out my CDs and photo albums. (Yes, I still have those things.)
No big deal. I don’t overshare on Twitter, mainly because I’ve never felt like I’ve ever got any meaningful engagement from it.
But it’s interesting how much more access you can give someone to your LinkedIn profile – your professional life, online – compared to Twitter and Facebook.
And that’s it
Now we wait. I had to wait a bit over 24 hours, but McLean says the report can be compiled “within a minute”. It will cost around $60 for both employers and individuals.
“As it’s aggregated data, it can significantly reduce issues around biased decision making and gives accurate evidence of how someone interacts over time, rather than just one or two meetings,” she said.
“For candidates, it helps them see how their offline and online reputations reflect their professional achievements and aspirations.”
So let’s have a look at my life online so far
Here’s the top section, which deals with my social media activity:
I passed! And I’m neutral when it comes to sentiment. That’s supposed to be a good thing for a journalist.
In fact, McLean says this is a pretty good indication of fit for a media industry type.
The only surprise here for me was the site frequency. I would have thought I’d be mostly active on Facebook, and virtually not at all on LinkedIn.
That may be due to me being an admin on BI’s LinkedIn page too, where we post a lot of excellent, relevant content.
McLean said most people were surprised by their own Twitter activity.
“It’s one of those things where you don’t think you do much on it but … the occasional Like, the occasional retweet, it’s something that’s much easier to do on Twitter and Facebook people tend to write a more extensive comment than just repost.”
And 7 average Likes on Facebook! I’ll take that.
Here’s a key insight
According to McLean, I’m very good at not wasting all my work time on social media.
“You have the exact (media industry) profile that we’re looking for in that most of your activity is during the week, most of the activity is in the afternoon,” McLean said.
“Most people were doing interviews or collecting data between the morning break, 10 to 11, and the morning was really catching up on things that might have happened overnight – tweeting, sharing stuff and checking in with different posts. And the afternoon activity absolutely made sense.”
You’re welcome, boss.
Now for my career stats
I’ve actually had a few. Well, some. Maybe I’m doing LinkedIn wrong or the report isn’t picking up my several roles at the same workplace as promotions.
So I come across like I’m a bit of a job-hopper (by Gen X standards, anyway).
My report finishes with this:
Culture and interests strikes me as pretty pointless, given the vast amount of interaction with everyone else’s culture and experience across social media that the report is likely picking up. I might like a friend’s vegan enthusiasm, but it’s not relevant to me.
I’m a little ashamed of my international experience and language skills. Obviously, not surprised, but would prefer to have something a little more worldly to show for my working life.
And my wordcloud is just a different visual take on my LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements. But interesting enough.
So, I guess I’m a safe all-rounder
But what if I wasn’t? What if my report said I failed and my sentiment was negative? What does a “Pass” actually mean?
I’d actually hoped for something more exciting. But McLean says a much more detailed report can be prepared “if required”.
What that means is if you get a Fail – and McLean hasn’t actually seen one yet – then the employer or employee can, for a higher fee ($90), get a drill down into where the problem lies. If you’re an employer, that lets you know if it’s something career-related; if you’re a job-seeker, you can probably fix it before it’s raised at an awkward time.
McLean said they’ve tested their algorithm “ad nauseum” to ensure it catches every detail that’s relevant.
“We did notice that a fair number of your tweets started with a positive word, so that’s ’10 things to do’ or ones with a call to action like that… so that shows there quite a lot of activity that you’re creating online,” she said.
True enough. I tend to use Twitter a promotional tool, and leave getting into fights for Facebook:
— Peter Farquhar (@FarkersFarkers) April 5, 2016
McLean said that kind of detail – such as specific dodgy tweets – doesn’t get shared with an employer, but could be released to an individual if they would like a more thorough report.
If it came to a high-level executive position and a company really wanted to pay for more detail on a potential hire’s activity, McLean said “at that stage we would really be seeking consent from an individual” first.
“There’d have to be some pretty hard reasons why that’s relevant to that particular role,” McLean said.
“Where we have discovered through analysis, issues around inappropriate language, anything that discrimination such as bullying, using or making really sexist or racist comments, that would raise a flag for us.”
The employer wouldn’t necessarily see the post, but would know “something is there” and that would then “become a conversation” between the interviewer and the candidate.
The candidate sees the report before going into an interview, and McLean said they could certainly share more detail on the problem with the candidate without issue.
“And it’s up to them to explain the context of those posts,” she said.
Old dogs, new tricks
McLean emphasised several times the fact that when it came to delving deeper, transparency between both parties before proceeding was of utmost importance.
When it comes to sentiment, there’s probably not a lot you can do to change a “negative” sentiment other than start fresh and try to lighten up a little.
For some, it’s far too late to change:
Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure,it's not your fault
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2013
Personally, I think the section which shows when and how much time you spend on social media could cause you as much trouble. Unless the job requires it, there are few bosses out there who would be impressed to see a candidate peaking during work hours.
And there’s not a lot you can do to game that statistic, unlike things such as skills and endorsements and tweaking your career history.
McLean said another area where potential hires were being shown up was in inconsistencies between their actual CV and what they put on LinkedIn.
What surprised her most though, was the demand from individuals who wanted to pay for their own report.
“We knew a market was there, from our initial research, but we just didn’t expect that demand would be so strong,” she said.
So The Social Index will now also be opened up for jobseekers in the next few weeks after it confirms the data security is “really, really tight”.
Above all, McLean says it’s a very effective way of ensuring you’re not ambushed in an interview.
“Absolutely. If you’re prepared for (an interview), it’s a really nice conversation,” she said. “Most of the time in context and with the conversation around references, you’re taking a risk anyway, so you’re just quantifying the risk.”
And yes, Snapchat profiles are also being considered.
“That would be something focused much more on the individual,” McLean said. “Most of it is pretty harmless but there certainly have been some scenarios involving professionals when Snapchat’s been used and it’s clear that data is kept, so we’ll be looking into that one.”