College students getting set to hit the job market will likely hear it many times: Be careful what you post on Facebook and Twitter because recruiters are watching.
Indeed, 93% of human resources professionals say they review candidates’ social media profiles before making a hiring decision, according to a 2013 survey by Jobvite, a recruitment technology developer. More than 40% of recruiters say they have reconsidered a candidate because of content posted on social media.
However, a new study published in the Journal of Management concludes that employers and recruiters should be “very cautious” about relying on Facebook and other social networks when selecting candidates.
The researchers – from Clemson University, Florida State University, Old Dominion University and the management consulting firm Accenture – found that Facebook profiles shed little, if any, light on future job performance ratings or employee turnover.
The study focused on more than 400 job-seeking students from the same college. The researchers asked 86 recruiters at a college career fair to review and rate the students’ Facebook profiles. A year later, researchers asked supervisors of the now-employed students to provide job performance ratings.
“Recruiter ratings of Facebook profiles correlate essentially zero with job performance,” the study concluded.
Although profiles containing odd profile pictures and potentially controversial references and language generally got lower ratings, researchers also found evidence of recruiter bias based on the gender and race of job seekers.
For those and other reasons, the study’s authors encouraged hiring managers to avoid using social media content, Google searches and other Internet information to validate a candidate before reliable methods for evaluation can be established.
“There needs to be a track record of this working before you use it,” researcher Philip L. Roth told Forbes. “I don’t think the track record is there yet.”
The annual Jobvite survey found rising use of social media as a recruiting tool, with 94% of respondents calling it “an essential HR practice,” a jump from 78% in 2008.
In addition to vetting applicants, companies also are using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks to reach out to potential candidates and showcase their brand.
“Social recruiting provides a way to quickly and easily find those ‘under the radar’ candidates – people who might not be actively looking for a role, but who are a perfect fit for open positions at your company,” Jobvite President Dan Finnigan said in a statement.