Here’s another wrinkle in the quest toward that perfect marriage between social media and recruiting. Consider it a sign that we still have a long way to go.
Seems an executive recruiter by the name of Tal Newhart, owner of ScreeningInterviews.com, was recently forced to terminate his candidate-profiling service, FacebookComparator.com, because the HR departments and independent recruiters using it weren’t doing so in the way he had envisioned.
“We were informed the Comparator was being used to ‘prevent the hiring of members,’ ” he says in this release. “I can certainly see that.”
The online service, with customers in the United States and Europe, analyzed a job applicant’s self-reporting on large social networks to predict a candidate’s hirability and anticipated job performance. Newhart says ScreeningInterviews will continue using the Comparator technology in its retained assignments and as part of its interviewing services, “but it’s dead as a stand-alone recruiting support service.”
“Too bad,” he says, “since it was a robust performance and retention predictor. I guess too good.”
The problem, in a nutshell, Newhart told me when I called him about this, comes down to the difference between using such a service in a positive way, i.e., the way it was constructed to be used — “to match corporate cultures with candidates” — or using it a negative way, “to screen out candidates.”
Essentially, members of “a large social-media site were being informed by the network that they were being denied positions because of what was being found on FacebookComparator.com,” he told me. HR leaders, hiring managers and recruiters “were using it to knock people out, not make the match culturally.” (He declined to name or confirm the site, despite the product’s name.)
This hurdle aside, Newhart says, there will be a “place in the future for companies to come in [to such a site] and create a full profile, based on all of their cultural aspects, business goals, philosophies, etc. etc. [and then correlate that] with a job candidate’s social-media presence” to see if there is a match there, if that person will do well there, succeed there, stay there.
That will take a new way of looking at such a service by HR professionals and recruiters, he says. It will require a more positive approach, rather than looking at this type of tool as simply good at finding questionable behavior, beliefs or politics on someone’s Facebook page so they can rule them out based on that.
In the same token, says Newhart, “job seekers need to understand the majority of companies are using social self-reporting, and what you say and show about yourself online is being used to evaluate who you are. … What people don’t understand is that [sharing anything on a social-media site] is self-reporting, and it’s very difficult to ‘game.’ ”
In this news analysis I wrote earlier this year, Don Kluemper, a professor of management who specializes in human resources at Northern Illinois University’s College of Business, provided first-ever academic proof, through his research, that Facebook can yield valuable personality and job-performance information — not just clues as to whether someone parties too hard or has alarming alliances. He did indicate then that the eventual practice was far from perfect.
Just as cognitive-ability tests were first doubted, but then thoroughly tested and vetted for any adverse-impact, “so, too,” said Kluemper, “would social-media profiles as job predictors need to be studied [and vetted] … .”
Newhart would take that a step further:
In the future we’ll see job/candidate matching engines that combine and optimize the individual company and candidate matrices. The result will be dramatically shorter unemployment periods. The underlying technology exists today. It will just be very complicated to get the cloud-based pieces to play together. When done, though, the social impact will be enormous. But for now, just look closely at a candidate’s self-reporting. Everything is right there.”