Tag 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.


  • 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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24th Annual ACFE Fraud Conference, JobBots, and Mock Interviews

I just returned from speaking at the 24th Annual Conference of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Quite an impressive organization, with 2,500+ anti-fraud experts in attendance at the conference, which was held at the magnificent Aria Resort and Casino.

My three 15-minute “Makeover” presentations (cover letter, résume, and interview strategies) on the exhibit hall stage were very well attended and received, and my 80-minute breakout session, “Stacking the Deck: Make Yourself the Hiring Manager’s Candidate of Choice” was even filmed (in part) by a crew from CNBC, perhaps for a future program on the world’s largest anti-fraud organization. I’m sure the footage of my presentation will end up on the cutting room floor since there were far more stellar personalities lined up to speak (Actor Stacy Keach, narrator of CNBC’s American Greed; former Enron CFO, Andy Fastow; and Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York).

It appears that my message hit all the right interest levels according to the speaker evaluations, though I am perplexed as to why each year in the “Constructive Changes for Making the Presentation More Effective” field on the form, one or two people blame me for such things as “the room is too cold/too hot”, “we need tables to write on”, or “there should be a handout” (even though I emphasized at the onset of my presentation that the conference paper–included in everyone’s registration packet–had all the details of the presentation).

JobBots: Why You Probably Didn’t Get that Job You Were Highly Qualified For

I came across an article in a magazine on the flight out to Las Vegas for the ACFE Conference that described how “JobBots”– software embedded in many applicant tracking systems–are used to screen pools of online applications and online résumé submissions. According to a 2012 CIO magazine article, JobBots are error-prone apps that eliminate “75 percent of job-seekers’ chances of landing an interview as soon as they submit their résumés, no matter how qualified they may be.”  Peter Cappelli, author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs stated that JobBots are “really cheap but not very effective in finding the people companies want.”

The best use of JobBots is as an initial filter to screen out applicants who fail to meet minimum job requirements. At that point, skilled recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers should take over. However, with the advent of job boards and other online job sites, thousands of résumés now flood HR departments. With the human resource function now having to shift more emphasis on federal and state compliance with all types of legislation, and toward more comprehensive strategic corporate objectives, increasingly the applicant screening function is being turned over to JobBots.

The problem is that humans can spot talent better than any software algorithm, and this is especially true in the high-tech world where increasingly the types and degrees of specialization require a trained eye to spot. One HR representative affirmed what I’ve been preaching in my presentations for a few years now, that “A great résumé gets noticed, but at most companies it’s about who referred you.”

Mock Interviews

I participated in several mock interviews with ACFE attendees, hoping to coach them in ways that would improve their interview skills. Everyone I worked with was intelligent, articulate, personable, and had impressive expertise. Yet, nearly everyone missed the chance to sell me on who they are (not what they are) when asked: “So, tell me about yourself.” Invariably, each person launched into a verbal narrative about their experience, expertise, and previous positions. They missed a golden opportunity to wax eloquent (within reason) about who they are as a person. When I brought this to their attention and gave them a “retry”, nearly everyone got it.

However, in an interview, there are no second chances to get it right!

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