For better or worse, the world of social media has created unprecedented opportunities for employers and digital marketing recruiters to peer “beyond the resume” and into the personalities and lives of job candidates. An individual’s activity on social accounts can provide unique insights into an individual’s character. It shows their creativity, digital literacy, and the kind of people they like to associate with. This information can be valuable to hiring managers and social media recruiters alike–but it can also be dangerous.
When it comes to how to hire great marketing talent, a candidate’s presence on social media can be especially revealing and helpful.
From LinkedIn to Pinterest, reviewing a marketing professional’s social media activity is not a viable substitute for thorough assessment and vetting from an experienced marketing recruiter. But it can reveal some useful information that will be difficult to glean from a resume or interview. Consider these examples of how a social media presence can indicate whether a candidate might be a good fit for your need and organization:
How the Individual Will Represent Your Brand
What do you think of a business when you encounter an extremely helpful customer service agent or a rude and pushy salesperson? Their behavior probably reflects on the organization they work for in your mind, right?
A brand is largely defined by the attitude and behavior of your employees, both in and out of the workplace. Yes, that includes your marketers too. Your marketers’ interactions online, professional or otherwise, can certainly be associated with your brand.
Keeping that in mind, it’s wise to hire people who will be good stewards of your reputation anywhere their words and actions are public. That’s doubly important on social media where evidence of their activity will never really be deleted forever.
It’s fine for a candidate to have strong opinions and voice them on social media, even if they’re talking about a sensitive or controversial subject. Providing a platform for communication and expression is, after all, the entire purpose of social networks.
Unfortunately, some people–even seasoned professionals–use social media as an outlet for offensive, vulgar, or even threatening content. These are often things that would be unacceptable in nearly any imaginable situation. For whatever reason some people feel empowered by the seeming impersonalness of social networks to post foolish and immature ideas. What someone says online on any channel reflects upon themselves, and that in turn can affect your brand.
Insights into Digital Aptitude
Like it or not, social media has become a fundamental part of modern marketing. It’s difficult to imagine a successful, comprehensive marketing strategy of any kind that didn’t have at least a small social component. The potential power of social to engage consumers and find out what they’re talking about is too valuable to ignore. Even in marketing fields like DRTV or print advertising, there’s often a social connection to be made.
The ability to understand social media with a basic aptitude is an essential skill for marketers at any level, from junior interns to CMOs. It’s one of the most important things to consider in how to hire great marketing talent. And the way an individual maintains their social accounts and interacts with others in their networks can give you a strong idea of their personal social competence.
A good digital marketer doesn’t necessarily have to be a social media guru with a full suite of dazzling profiles and an adoring network. After all, maintaining a strong personal brand on social media is a lot of work. Many strong candidates will be too busy with other priorities to devote a lot of time to their social accounts.
But if you encounter someone who is quite obviously very adept with social, it’s a good indicator that they’re a digital native and will be comfortable with a variety of other digital strategies. Consider a candidate that is constantly tagging photos, deftly using trending hashtags and eloquently communicating with others in their network. They obviously have a good idea of how to leverage social channels and make the most of their capabilities. And they’ll be able to take advantage of that understanding to enhance the other digital marketing initative that they work on.
Their Sense of Risk Management and Information Security
The internet is a wonderful place, but it can also be very dangerous. With increasing connectivity comes more opportunities for those with nefarious intent to pry their way into your sensitive information.
Anyone with a little digital awareness is aware of these dangers and has developed a healthy amount of caution when it comes to sharing information online. They know what information is appropriate to share in various places. They also understand how to modify social account setting to conceal their personal data from strangers. But even in today’s age many people (including experienced business professionals) fail to take even the most basic of precautions to secure the information they handle online.
Cybersecurity is a huge issue both for the average web user and for companies of all kinds. A single weak link can have dramatic costs. If someone isn’t a stalwart guardian of their own information on their social accounts, and doesn’t show discretion with the comments they make, it’s a good sign they won’t be responsible with your own data security, too.
A Word of Warning from Social Media Recruiters
The information candidates make public online can be very useful, but we know as social media recruiters that you have to be very careful with how you approach it for two primary reasons:
- The first is a practical consideration. When evaluating a marketing candidate’s social profiles, you might encounter a lot things you don’t personally like. But when it comes to their professional qualification, they might not matter one way or the other. Without knowing a lot about the professional, it’s easy to take things out of context. That’s especially true for interactions that were thought to be personal and private. Don’t entirely dismiss a good marketer just because their social media history isn’t flawless. In particular, take anything you find on a “personal” network like Facebook with a huge grain of salt, and withhold judgement except in extreme cases.
- The second consideration is a legal one. When you look at someone’s social accounts, you’ll probably encounter what are considered to be “protected traits.” These are characteristics that you are not legally allowed to factor into a hiring decision, including race, gender and age. Take special caution when perusing social accounts that you are not letting these factors influence your decision one way or another. If you are suspected of doing so, you could be liable for a lawsuit.