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Three Tips for Stalking Potential Employees on Facebook

There Are Rules for Social Networking Stalkers

By Published on . 4

McKenzie Koch McKenzie Koch
While there isn't a formal course on it, every college student nearing completion of her degree is aware of a certain supposed-to-be-secret trend. It's a group of people known as "Social Networking Stalkers," or the SNS.

SNS-ers are potential employers who log on to social-networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace with the intention of ferreting out information that no student wants her future boss to see. Employers call it research, applicants call it "creeping."

Having just graduated from school, I'm going to catch you up to speed on what to keep in mind when you're SNS'ing your talent pool.
  • Be proactive. If you consider Facebook or MySpace profiles when choosing interviewees, always do it before you call the applicant. College students are often short-sighted but they do know that you might check their profiles.

    It's kind of like cleaning house -- many of us don't do it until we know company is coming. When you arrive it may look like we live between the covers of Good Housekeeping magazine, but you didn't see us throwing dirty dishes into the oven and junk mail under the litter box, did you? Many students won't clean up their profiles until they know someone is interested.

  • Be realistic. Just like a yellow light doesn't mean "stop," a photo of your applicant with a drink in hand does not necessarily signal "professional party girl" or "fraternity's best beer-bonger."

    Ever heard the old adage "Work hard, play hard?" Many of the best college students take it literally, so don't make assumptions based on photos. Instead, look at the quality of the writing in the profile. Does it sound like the applicant has a personality? Does the quotes section include something a little bit deeper than "It's 5 o'clock somewhere"? Are the grammar and spelling correct?

    It's probably important to you that an employee be well rounded and able to prioritize. Facebook profiles can actually be proof that your applicant was able to go to class, get good grades, rack up some experience and have fun all at the same time. Pretty impressive.

  • Be a "best-date-ever" kind of date In an earlier post, fellow blogger Sarah Ewing likened the employer/potential employee relationship to dating. My question for you: Would you confess to having looked up your potential mate online and then bombard her with questions about her past? If you would, then you're probably not going on many second dates.

    With the ink still wet on her degree, the last thing an interviewee wants to do is explain away past actions. Use your SNS'ing as a way to weed out applicants before they come in, not to scare them away.
To sum things up, researching your applicants on social-networking sites can be a great way to weed through a large pile of resumes. With the right attitude and key indicators in mind, one can tell a lot from a simple web page. Happy hunting!

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