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5 Things to Look Out for In Applicants’ Facebook Profile

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While not everyone believes that first impressions last, there are also those who put a lot of credit on what they see on the first take. This is why jobseekers put on their best corporate regalia when showing up for screenings and interviews—to wrap nicely the gift that is their skills and qualifications. Not only that, they also follow every rule in the book such as coming on time, rehearsing answers to certain questions, and researching about the company and its industry. But if you’ve been a recruitment manager long enough, you would know that sometimes, not even the best exams, interviews, and formal suits and dresses can guarantee that an applicant is perfect for the job.

In some cases, it’s the things that they don’t tell you that will shed light on who and what they are really like. This is why, along with digital means of recruitment, hiring managers also exhaust other channels like social media, to know their applicants on a personal level. And this isn’t limited to LinkedIn alone. With almost everyone signed up to the plethora of social networking platforms, looking up an applicant in the most inhabited one, i.e. Facebook, has become a practice observed by recruitment officers. But the question is, are you looking at the right places? Worry not because we made a list of where to look when checking your applicants’ Facebook profiles.

1. Communication Skills

The primary function of social networking sites is to let people interact with one another regardless of boundaries imposed by time zones and geography. This means that being able to communicate well is not just a privilege but also a mandatory skill, especially if they want to make a good impression to those who might look them up. If your applicants’ Facebook profile (or some parts of it) is set to public, scour the pages for posts that will give you clues on how they express themselves and talk to others.

For instance, if an applicant posted a review about a restaurant he previously had dinner at, see how he composed his message. Was it polite or did the review come on too strong? Did he stick with a formal tone or did he use slang? Did he commit any grammatical or spelling errors? These are some of the areas you should look into when evaluating the communication skills of prospective employees.

2. Work Experiences and Activities

Another purpose Facebook serves is to make room for sharing experiences with friends, whether it’s personal or related to work. When viewing your applicants’ pages, see what kind of activities they participate in. Being affiliated with organizations that are related to the job they’re applying for signify passion for what they do. On the other hand, activities that are not exactly associated with their profession but meaningful nonetheless can imply a person’s diversity. Either way, you can take advantage of these traits once you hire the person you deem is fit for the job.

3. Photos

It’s common for Facebook users to upload photos whether for documentation purposes or to have the pictures speak on their behalf. In any case, material such as photos can say a lot about a person.

Take, for instance, a person who likes taking selfies. This practice can suggest that the person is confident and sociable. However, it can also indicate a bit of narcissism. Be wary, though, of applicants with photos that can be a little too over the top for your company’s sensibilities. For instance, if your company doesn’t tolerate going on unannounced leaves, you might want to think twice about that applicant who posted a series of photos in the beach captioned “playing hooky.”


This goes for what they post on other people’s Walls and what other people post on theirs, although it is the former that they have control of. Horseplay among Facebook friends in the form of comments may be a norm now, and it can give away a person’s character. Assuming that you can view the comments made by your applicants, see if there are any words or language that may be offensive. Moreover, skim the comments written by their friends and check what kind of praises, criticisms, and feedback they are getting. How they respond to these will also clue you in on how they good can be at handling judgments and how good a communicator they can be.

5. Cultural Fit

Apart from being qualified for the job and having an overall positive attitude, it is also important that your new employees will fit into the culture your company celebrates. Some of the things on their Facebook page that can help you decided on this are the things they Like, the games they play, the music they listen to, the books they read, and even the television shows they watch. You can also use their posts and photos as basis.

If, for example, you’re working for an NGO, you’re probably looking for individuals who are passionate about doing volunteer work and dealing with people. Scour their profile pages for any indication that they will fit in the present culture of your company because this can do a lot in keeping your employees motivated.

It may be true that not everything posted on Facebook is gold, but if you’re keen on finding the applicants that would fit the mold, it pays to exert a little effort in scouring their pages for the nuggets that can prove them qualified. If you have any tips or experiences with recruitment that you want to share with us, drop us a line in the comments form.
Apr 29 '16 #1
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Martha Ballard
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Thanks for this information. I know everyone is looking for this.
May 5 '16 #2

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When I use Facebook I do not mention work; I do not think it is professional. Additionally, I don't talk about anything too personal, or bore someone to death about my daily ritual, so Facebook would be one of the last places I would look to get quality information on someone.

On the other hand,thinking about some of the things I have read or seen on the news, maybe Facebook would be a good place to start when looking for personal data. It may clear some things up very fast.
Jul 20 '16 #3

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Wonder if future employment law will bar employers from using this info. Hopefully people learn to lock down their social media accounts better.
Jul 22 '16 #4

Expert Mod 5K+
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Employeers have been looking at social media accounts for a very long time. Looking for the information mentioned here as well as for other information such as organizing attempts. In fact, this is nothing more than the electronic equivalent of the bar-snoop or the company mole.

The problem I see here is over-reach by the employer. Unless the employee is applying for a "top secret" or similarly sensitive position, sharing company secrets or mis-representing themselves as an official of the company - the employer really should keep their noses out of the individual's personal life without a court warrant.

+ There are many articles now that describe how employers are now demanding the Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media LogIN and Password information because people are setting their privacy options more carefully; thus, preventing this kind of "peeping-tom" behavior:

+ This one is quite old; however, something we should all be aware of: USA Today - Will employers still ask for Facebook passwords in 2014?

+ And this is bad enough that even the ACLU has taken an interest: ACLU - Your Facebook Password Should Be None of Your Boss’ Business

The lessons to be taken from this article as well as the two cited links - Review and set your social media privacy levels and be very careful about what you have in the publicly available sections of your accounts.

And yes, sailingaway2343, there are people trying to pass laws that will prohibit employers from using this type of information. The problem is, even if passed in all 50 states, employers are still asking about children at home, marriage status, pregnancy status, family planning, and about criminal records that have no relationship to the position(s) (think SEC sanctions and stock/bond/commodity positions or teaching and criminal actions dealing with children which have a direct relationship to the position) on job applications - all of which are illegal unless you can show just cause for legitimate business reasons, https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/, and these laws against the social media access wont stop the employers either.
Aug 1 '16 #5

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Thanks for including source links, very helpful. Regarding laws that are have been passed or will be passed, maybe the best chance we'll have for better enforcement of the laws will be successful class action suits that result in large punitive fees and discourage others.
Aug 1 '16 #6

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Wow this is a very interesting article! I really liked and really useful for me. thank you!
Sep 7 '16 #7