Should HR and recruiting managers stalk applicants on social sites?

It’s just too tempting an opportunity isn’t it? You’ve seen the CV, all looks great.  Their skill sets and qualifications all seem ideal for the job you’re advertising, their covering letter is perfectly professional, but let’s just see what their facebook profile is like…

So many people are all too willing to share their personal lives with the world, posting and tweeting about everything from what they had for tea to their political views.

When you’re potentially going to offer them a pivotal role in your company, don’t you need to be aware of just how much they share?  And how they share it?

It’s a well documented fact that people have lost their jobs for publishing inappropriate material on social sites – damaging not just their own, but their company’s reputation.  One of the more obvious examples of this is the Domino’s Pizza employees who posted a video of themselves doing some pretty gross stuff to food.  Food that was then served to Domino’s customers, yuk!

Could this all have been avoided if the recruiter had taken the time to reccy their profiles before offering them the job?

It’s becoming more and more a standard practice for recruiters to do a bit of ‘online research’ about potential employees.  In fact, according to this Mashable infographic, 78% of recruiters already use a search engine to unearth facts about applicants and 63% actively probe social media platforms to find out who they’re hiring.

If you intend to join the online stalking trend, (and we wouldn’t blame you) then – other than the obvious red flags such as over-use of profanity and sharing of inappropriate images or material, here’s our top three tips on what to look for!


No-one wants a negative Nelly in their work environment, so just make a note of how a person portrays themselves online.  Are they always having a moan? Telling people how much they hate their life – or even hate their job? Pessimism usually goes hand-in-hand with unhelpful, unenthusiastic and unconstructive. Just the opposite of what you want in an employee!

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How much do they talk about their current or previous employers – their work, their colleagues, their boss?  If they’re demonstrating genuine enthusiasm for their job, or sharing their passion for their work – that may be all well and good.  Some employers even actively encourage their staff to share and share and share.  But it may be worthy of a cautionary note if the job role you are recruiting for requires a greater deal of confidentiality.  At the very least, you will know to have that discussion within them about your social media policies.


Timelines are great – because they retain information on when posts and tweets were shared.  Why is this important? You don’t want a worker who spends all their time – in working hours – on facebook and twitter (unless it’s part of their job, of course)!  So do a bit of clock-watching on your applicant’s page.  If you know they’re in a 9-5 job, and they’ve updated their personal status every hour, on the hour all day – can they really be that focussed on their work?

Oh, and I have to mention spelling and grammar because it’s a big bone of contention for us. It may just be a facebook post, but why not be fastidious in every area of your life?  As a recruiter, you don’t want someone who’s going to slip into txt spk in emails!

It may seem like we’ve shared all the negatives here – but on the plus side, a recruiter can generally get a good feel for a person from their social media profile.  You want to see a bit of sparkle, some verve and energy, some soul, some character, some stamina – maybe some moral fibre.  A happy person often makes for a happy employee.

So, happy stalking –  go see what you find!






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