Mark Moore is the president of staffing firm Kavaliro. SmartBrief asked Moore about the methods Kavaliro uses to screen candidates’ online profiles and about measures job seekers can take to avoid having their online activities hurt their employment chances.
What are Kavaliro’s methods for screening candidate’s social media profiles? Is there any technology used?
At Kavaliro, we often perform formal background checks through partner companies. These days, many of these companies also conduct a social media screening. We also monitor the social profiles of candidates ourselves by utilizing sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Of course, we do not infringe on any employment discrimination laws and also support everyone’s right to free speech.
It seems obvious that a blatantly inappropriate Facebook photo might hurt someone’s employment chances. What are some less obvious items that people commonly post on Facebook that might cause them to miss out on job opportunities?
Many people applying for jobs don’t realize that anything can be perceived as polarizing one way or the other. Some examples might include making insensitive remarks about religious or cultural topics; or negative posts about your current boss. As you pointed out, however, photos are often the biggest problem for job seekers since they can be uploaded so easily and can capture some potentially unflattering circumstances much better than a wall post. The most common example that we see at Kavaliro is pictures showing excessive drinking or obscene gestures. However, it’s still possible that pictures from a family hunting trip or those showing public displays of affection with someone can strike the wrong chord with an employer.
What about people that choose not to participate in any social media networks at all? Can a lack of profile information lead to to a candidate being ruled out for a position?
Yes. A candidate with no profile can certainly be at a disadvantage if there is another candidate with a profile that reflects well. I would recommend creating some type of social profile, whether LinkedIn or Facebook, that showcases the candidate in a positive light. I would also recommend grabbing an individual domain name to optimize search results, specifically with Google.
What are some tools people can use to keep their online profiles clean?
With the amount of tools available and the minimal effort required to make profiles appropriate for screening, there is little excuse for candidates to have many visible social media gaffes.
One of my favorites is PhotoBox!, a free iPhone app that allows Facebook users to untag themselves from inappropriate photos, immediately and with one click, before prospective employers have the chance to see them. As I mentioned, inappropriate photos can be the most dangerous risk to job seekers, as pictures can say a thousand words. And for those that have tried, you know that untagging Facebook photos on a computer is a relatively arduous task. Job seekers must identify the photo they want to untag, and then go through five clicks to complete the process.
Another great tool, Keppler, is an online service that analyzes content on your social media sites to give you a feel for how others might perceive you and monitors your Facebook page for inappropriate content. Using the results, candidates can find incriminating or questionable posts and remove them.
The best thing to do, however, is for a candidate to adjust their social media habits and refrain from creating or posting online content that has the potential to be controversial.