Social Media and the Job Market

June 19, 2012

There was an interesting article published on Digital News Asia today on job-hunting, and the impact social media has had on that “common” activity. For the most part, I think Asohan got it right. But there’s also an opportunity to look at this phenomenon deeper – because recruiters searching through your social networks is just the top layer.

I wrote a fairly long comment on DNA, which I’ll re-post here to share my thoughts:

Thanks for the article, Asohan. I personally think that the impact of a social media profile is not so clear cut.

Firstly, our industries (media and communication) probably feels the impact of social media quite a bit more than others, simply because agencies are mostly “trying to go digital.” However, move to things like financial services, or production-line supervisor and there’s much less scrutiny.

Secondly, I think there are different layers to someone’s social person, and different categories of activity people see. There’s the “popularity and activity” measure – like a Klout score – where a media agency might hire you because they perceive you to be active and influential on the social space. But like you’ve pointed out, there’s also the “conduct and personality” assessment – where companies may asses someone’s character and behaviour based on social media postings. Finally, depending on the person, it’s also possible to look at personal data e.g. medical condition based on online information.

So, using social media to evaluate a candidate is never merely just looking at activity, but more about having clear goal on what you want to evaluate about the candidate when you dive into social media.

Thirdly, the impact of social technology on culture as a whole will evolve our perceptions on this matter. The perception of public-private has driven a lot of discussion these past few years, but most commentators believe it has moved (just look at the younger generation). So, again, in the context of jobs, drunken pictures might have been a big deal in 2008 (and it was), but in 2012, depending on the person employing you, it might be just be a conversation starter.

Whoops, sorry for being so long-winded. Love your article, think this is an interesting topic, and yes, something that can be discussed till kingdom come.

Meantime, my own rule is: I make sure I do a sanity check on everything I’m posting on Facebook or Twitter, but also ensure I let some of my personality shine through. That’s only human, I believe.

To add to that, here’s some other ways I find social media impacts the process of job-hunting / recruiting:

Consider “SEO”. What a recruited finds when they search for you will be highly biased towards content you put out, so if you want to be know as “digital expert”, keep calling yourself that and get your friends to do likewise. And buy them a round of drinks when you’ve gotten your fat-paying job (I kid) as a “digital expert.”

Social Media Intelligence brings power to the job-hunter too. This is fresh off my mind as I was looking at GlassDoor today. While spammy, it’s still getting used by people to share insights and reviews on companies. For example, pay scales. As these kinds of services / networks evolve, analytics won’t be the domain of the HR specialist alone and Tom, Dick and Vlad, will also be able to negotiate based on data they know is coming from within the company.

Better job-matching, and more referrals and opportunities. I think this much is obvious, so much so we don’t mention it. But systems like LinkedIn have become a big boon for recruiters over the years because it’s so simple to do a search and instantly have a list of candidates. Compared to the days of poring over the Jobs section in the newspaper, the jobs are now looking for you – or you’re looking for it (with a search). What does this mean? I’d think if more people that were good candidates for any given role were being unearthed thanks to social technology, that would mean stiffer competition for any one post. But let’s not discount the human factor here, because when it comes down to it, hiring someone is really a human decision.


  • Mei Ying Teoh

    And I find this article right when I’m trying to hire a ‘digital expert’ ;p