Considering the digital-saturated world we live in, it’s hard to believe employers relied on print classified ads to attract candidates as few as 10 years ago. But over the past decade, a majority of these businesses have become media savvy to the point where they are turning to Twitter to find their next hire. It’s called informal recruitment via social media, and nowadays it’s incredibly common amongst hiring managers who are just as concerned about cultural fit as they are with concrete qualifications. Given the overexposed nature of these websites, it’s easy to understand why.
Unlike a starchy resume, an online profile—or more like profiles—gives a hiring manager a holistic view of a candidate. For instance, a digital portfolio can highlight technical skill and creativity, and an up-to-date blog can demonstrate industry knowledge. More importantly, online profiles can help spot red flags that may otherwise go unnoticed in the conference room interview, like poor communication skills or a bad attitude (just ask Connor Riley). With all of these benefits gained by the employer, it’s easy to overlook how this new recruitment process might harm the potential employee.
Chad Brooks from Fox Business News reports 27 percent of jobs in the U.S. are gained through informal recruitment, including social media. But what makes this controversial is the fact that these openings are more likely to be for high-wage managerial positions. According to Brooks, this suggests U.S. economic institutions value popularity over merit prompting him to ask if social media recruitment is fair.
Some people might not have a problem with employers cherry picking Facebook pages for candidates. But others, like Brooks, are keenly aware of how social media recruitment can exclude thousands of jobseekers who are capable albeit disconnected from the world of status updates and cross-platform sharing. This disconnect could be from unfamiliarity with the technology, or for non-affluent jobseekers, fewer resources to use the technology. After all, updating a Twitter feed requires a digital device and access to the Internet, both of which cost money. So since access to social media is unequal, granting employment from social media can also be unequal.
Subsequently employers should not exclusively rely on social media to find candidates because the best the best person for the job might not have the best online profile. As for the approximate 420,000 job seekers in Colorado, they must recognize how serious the online social world has become if they haven’t already.