Hiring only the best
Local tools add to suite of options for HR professionals, but some say online marketing misses the point
In the recession-heavy month of March 2009, so the story goes, a bright young thing scored an internship at Cisco Systems Inc. in the U.S. “Cisco just offered me a job!” tweeted the user, known as @theconnor. “Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”
It was only moments later when the hiring manager from Cisco found the tweet.
“I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work,” wrote @timmylevad. “We here at Cisco are versed in the web.”
There is no trace of the conversation now except in news reports and a blog post, one that reflected upon the power of social media.
“I assumed it would be immediately apparent to them that I was being sarcastic and make it obvious what my decision had been,” wrote the spurned tweeter.
“I didn’t realize that not having protected my updates on Twitter would quickly come back to haunt me.”
Employers are turning more to the Internet than ever to screen job candidates, a process made all the more difficult since more people are looking for work due to the economic downturn.
Potential employers check Facebook and LinkedIn, and Twitter to a lesser extent, to weed out candidates for drinking and drugs, bad-mouthing their current employer or displaying inappropriate behaviour online. A Harris Interactive Survey of 2,667 HR professionals released in August showed nearly half of the survey members used some sort of social networking site to figure out if the employee they had their eye on was right for the job.
“It’s very common for students to have a Frosh Week photo, and that’s not how your employer wants to think of you,” said Carrie Sullivan, a consultant who works for the Ottawa branch of HR firm Knightsbridge.
“I would never direct an employer to my Facebook page.”
The key is to use the same tools – cameras and a social network – to create a message that employers want to see, funnelling them towards a site that displays a more professional side.
VIRTUAL PERSONAL STOREFRONTS
A pair of Ottawa programs hope to do just that, by helping students put their best foot forward without falling into the same trap that our tweeting friend earlier discovered.
WhyHire.me – the brainchild of two Algonquin College professors – is a website that gives students a central hub, kind of like a LinkedIn on steroids, to promote themselves and their work. On a single page are tabbed documents showing a student’s resume, Twitter feed, blog, videos and other items about themselves.
After a year in a trial run, the program is now a core part of a third-year business course at Carleton University, taught by Leighann Neilson.
“Employers are already Googling people and checking Facebook accounts before calling people for an in-