Article: Are you Googling your new hire?

Strategic HR

Are you Googling your new hire?

The internet personality of employees (existing and potential) is changing the rules of employment and hiring
Are you Googling your new hire?

Quickly acting on a positive or negative social media brand activity helps organisations maximise opportunities and minimise risks


Hardly a well-known guy till last month, Pax Dickinson, the former Chief Technology Officer of Business Insider, became the bad guy of the internet as soon as news reports pointing towards his sexist tweets started to surface. The result: The US business and technology based website terminated Dickinson’s services within a week of this controversy.

Did Dickinson say anything negative about his company? No. Was he guilty of exhibiting a similar behaviour in his real life? Not at all! Rather a few of his acquaintances came out in the open to say that he was an altogether different person in the real life than what his ‘supposed’ offensive tweets paint him to be. But ultimately, Business Insider couldn’t ignore his ‘internet personality’.

Not surprisingly, the internet personality of employees (existing and potential) is changing the rules of employment and hiring in many ways. At a time when the recruitment process begins with a Google search for a candidate’s profile, how is the ‘internet personality’ affecting hiring/employment decisions?

While Dickinson’s is one extreme case that highlights the flip side of an uncontrolled online behaviour, experts believe that many companies are more than willing to scrutinise online profiles in order to increase their talent pool and select the right candidates. But do companies have the right strategies in place to leverage the information the internet gives them access to?

Looking at a candidate’s digital footprints

At a time when Googling has become a substitute for secondary research and internet footprints are used to decipher one’s personality, it seems just obvious that internet presence of a candidate is proving to be a major influence in hiring decisions. And why not, it gives recruiters a peek into their interest and personality much before the interview. At least in the initial stage where, guided by their social networking profiles, online portfolios, slideshares, work-related videos, comments and activity on various platforms, hiring managers can choose the best possible ‘potential candidates’.

It cannot be denied that the presence of well-crafted professional profiles give credibility to a candidate’s claims. Rajesh Padmanabhan, Head HR, Capgemini India, doesn’t believe that Indian companies have reached a stage where they are skeptical in hiring a candidate with no internet presence, “Having no presence is not viewed skeptically by employers but it may miss their attention towards sourcing the candidate due to the absence.”

The fact that the way candidates conduct themselves on the internet can give them an edge over more careless peers is something that most of the recruiters agree with. Deepa Chadha, Head-HR, Airtel Business, says, “Leveraging video recruiting, professional forums, networking etc are a great opportunity to position yourself with precision in the limited time window. Talking of our recruitments, yes, having a data savvy internet personality helps.”

But, she quickly adds a caveat to it, “But its relevance is in a context,” which in most of the cases is the job profile in question. Without doubt, in the current age, for a position in marketing and communications a candidate’s digital footprints will be thoroughly scanned. However, in most of the companies, this isn’t the case with roles in manufacturing, automobile, heavy industries etc. Internet presence in itself may not get extra scores for candidates because in the end they are picked on the basis of their skills. However, in a few roles it becomes necessary. For instance, in LinkedIn all hiring takes place through the platform itself.

From companies’ point of view, though they are not entirely relying on the internet presence of a candidate to make their final decision; it does help them source information about a candidate and is quite useful for secondary reference check, something they are trying to leverage.

Irfan Abdulla, Director, LinkedIn Talent Solutions India, points out that companies too are paying attention to the need of creating a strong online profile to be able to attract this ready talent pool. He says, “Corporates today have realised the importance of creating, maintaining and nurturing their employer brand online. A lot of prospective employees are increasingly following company profiles on platforms like LinkedIn while hunting for a job, thereby giving recruiting teams’ better prospects to build and nurture their talent pipelines much faster.”

What are companies working on?

Satya D Sinha, CEO, Mancer Consulting Services, says, “Human resource managers across companies in India and abroad are studying the online pattern of candidates to understand their interests, beliefs and orientations. This helps in finding the best fit for a particular job.” Not only does this help in reaching out to the right candidate, it also helps organisations fight with two major constraints: Cost and time.

Findings of a recent survey released by Jobvite, a company that provides applicant tracking software, shows that companies have acknowledged the presence of candidates on various platforms on the internet and they are working towards strategies to tap this talent pool. The survey says that 92 per cent of employers are using or planning to use social networks for recruiting this year. This is up slightly from last year at 89 per cent.

Aware of the talent pool available on various platforms across the internet, many smart players have prepared a focused hiring strategy using the internet. Airtel has successfully utilised various online sources like job portals, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc for hiring.

Many companies have digital recruitment strategies in place to engage and attract candidates using various internal and external social media platforms. Abdulla shares a few more success stories, “According to LinkedIn’s India Recruitment Survey 2013, there has been a 20 per cent increase in recruiters considering social and professional networks as a key source to find quality talent in the last two years. Companies like HCL Technologies, Larsen & Toubro, Intel, Biocon, Capgemini and ING Vysa have been successful in increasing their return on investment by hiring the right talent in a cost and time effective manner. In fact, within a short span of five months ING Vysya was able to close quality talent in key positions across specific business units; resulting into approximately 4 times a return on investment.”

New rules of the game are certainly paying off!

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Topics: Strategic HR, Talent Acquisition, #BestPractices, #Jobs, #ExpertViews

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