Category Archives: ACFE Conference

Why Using Social Media for Job Searches is a Trojan Horse

facebook-donotliketrojan horse

Last week I presented several talks at the 26th Annual Fraud Conference sponsored by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. One of my presentations was on using social media for job searches, but from a former hiring manager’s perspective. There are social media proponents who enthusiastically endorse social media sites (SMSs) for job searches, but most hiring managers will not drink the Kool-Aid. Instead, many if not most hiring managers will recommend networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and perhaps Google +. But let’s be clear–according to a recent survey of hiring managers, 50 percent use SMSs to exclude candidates from further consideration. While SMSs happily present your persona when everyone is watching, we want to know: who are you when no one is looking? Are you the same person on paper (cover letter, résumé) or in the job interview that you are on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and WordPress? The very nature of social media makes this a difficult task.

What’s the rest of the world doing for job searches? Ray Van Es, an international placement consultant, followed many professionals from university graduation into their professional careers. He found that:

  • Most who are successful and continue being successful are not active on the Internet.
  • Many do not have a LinkedIn profile, and the ones that do are not very active; social media use is restricted to interacting with a very small group of friends they know personally.
  • They are not jumping on SNSs for career purposes, but like to explore career-related apps on smartphones and other devices.
  • They build a strong profile (brand) before graduation and continue adding to it once their careers begin.
  • They prefer face-to-face networking to virtual networking

A report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences described a computer program that was able to better assess subject personalities based on Facebook “likes.” The software actually did a better job than the subjects’ self-ratings on predicting four outcomes: (1) Facebook use; (2) number of Facebook friends; (3) use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs; and (4) field of study.

This research has important implications for data analytics playing a more comprehensive role in the hiring process, particularly in up-front candidate screening. The results of predictive analytics–and not individual content and posts–may drive hiring decisions in the future because…

SOCIAL MEDIA IS A TROJAN HORSE; it is a personal information capture industry where the front end is packaged as a free social interaction application while the data/metadata you provide is the prize to advertisers, marketers, and hackers.

With the advent of phony Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, “click farms” (digital middlemen) purchase “Facebook likes” (1,000 “likes” will run you around $30.00 U.S. while 1,000 Twitter followers costs about $12) and sell them to business to boost their online ratings. There’s even software to disable Facebook cookies so the suspicious activity can’t be tracked.

In 2005, 5.5 million people were Facebook users; 6 months ago, that number grew to 1.4 billion. If social media is the power behind today’s internet, then the reliability of that power is suspect. With the Facebook spam market worth between $87 million to $390 million, advertising on Facebook (and other similar sites) with a high percentage of phony likes, fans, and followers could threaten the entire business model that’s the back end of social media.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Realize the business truth behind the social media model—don’t embrace the groupthink that SM is the “new hiring model”—professional networking sites are but one tool to help you get into the hiring process
  • Limit your exposure to only a couple of sites frequented by most hiring managers and become an expert in their use
  • Build a solid profile and build a strong presence with your choices and drill down deep and wide by:
    –Joining forums and participating
    –Posting links to articles about your industry/your blog
    –Getting endorsements from your trusted network.
  • Recommendations:
    –LinkedIn and Twitter (and/or Google +) are where hiring managers troll
    –Add a Facebook business page if you are self-employed/own a business

(some information about Facebook spam and click farms came from an article in The New Republic.)

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