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How to Research Potential Hires on Social Media

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 5:30
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Social media symbols

How can you know that the person you’re extending a job offer to is the right fit for you? Are you positive they’re not misleading you about their interest in the job? For instance, a daycare in Texas needed to hire a new teacher. They thought they found the right person: Kaitlyn Walls. When a representative of the daycare found Walls on Facebook, they fired her before she started. Walls posted a status update that read “I start my new job today, but I absolutely hate working at a daycare.”

Walls isn’t the only person who has lost a job before it started due to inappropriate comments. A Twitter user was fired over cursing about her new job and then bragged about how she was fired because of Twitter.

It can be hard to find a good employee. As an employer, if you’re not reviewing the social media profiles of your potential or new employees, you could be missing out on crucial information. You should conduct a social media review after your first interview and before you put out an offer.

This isn’t about looking for a reason not to hire someone. Everyone has a bad day now and then, and sometimes that even spills over to their social media accounts. When you are reviewing social media accounts that have posts and pictures available for the public to see, remember that this isn’t about one dramatic post someone made about their neighbor when 1,000 other posts show them to be a well-balanced human. This is about looking for indicators that they are not the right fit for your company.

Set Some Guidelines

First, you need to establish some parameters for your review, which should reflect the mission and values of your law firm. For instance, if you work in a family law firm that advocates peaceful resolutions during a conflict, you would want to make sure that public posts made by the potential employee fit into those values.

If your potential employee had multiple posts insulting another parent, they would likely not be a good fit for your organization. Also, you want to look to ensure that your potential employee isn’t showing their support for illegal activity of any sort in their public posts.

Primarily, though, you should look through public posts that may show you if there is an issue that seems to exist about their work. Do they have complaints about every job they’ve held? Granted, you likely won’t look back at their public feed for more than a few weeks. However, it pays to look to make sure that you’re not hiring someone who is unhappy no matter where they go or what they do.

Facebook Stalking 101

One of the biggest hurdles you will face in finding your potential hire on Facebook is that people may use a fake name, may use a middle name instead of their first name, or a last name that is not their current last name. It can take a little bit of trial and error.

One of the best possible ways to find someone on social media is to listen to them when they talk during the interview. If you ask the infamous “tell me about yourself” question, make notes of names, cities, or other interesting pieces of information.

When you search on Facebook, you have the option of using filters. When you type in a name and press the enter key, you’ll be taken to the results. There will be filters that you can use. You can choose “People” to look only for individual profiles as opposed to fan pages (although in some industries, checking for a fan page isn’t a bad idea). You could then use the filters to look only in a particular city. If you know the college or high school, there are filters for that as well.

Go through the profiles to find your potential hire. If you find their profile, check it out. Again, you’re not looking for posts that just indicate a bad day. You’re looking for posts that show you that this person may be a conflict waiting to happen for your law firm. If their profile is totally private, that’s okay. At least if they get upset at work, there won’t be public posts on Facebook about it.

Check Twitter

Twitter is a little more difficult because fake names are common, particularly in the legal field. Many attorneys who are on Twitter in an unofficial capacity will not show pictures of their face or anything else that may identify them. You will have to search for your potential hire’s real name and hope for the best.

Some apps for Twitter give you the option to narrow down your results by city. That’s another added benefit. If you do find your potential hire, just take a quick scroll their timeline. Make sure that whatever they post isn’t likely to make your firm look bad.

You don’t really need to worry about looking at their list of followers. Twitter users don’t have a lot of control as to who follows them unless they want to take the time to start blocking every account that seems questionable. That can be time-consuming, which is why most people don’t bother with it.

Look at Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular picture apps available, and people who upload their photos to Instagram have the option of sharing them to other social media profiles. So, if you find them on other social media accounts and see a picture posted via Instagram, just follow the photo to their account. Then, click on the account name to see the other photos they posted. If the account is private, you won’t be able to see anything except the one photo you found posted elsewhere.

To look for people, you will want to use the Instagram app on a smartphone or tablet. You will want to have an account, but you can create an account without uploading anything. Click the magnifying glass and enter a name, but make sure that, just like on Facebook, you choose ‘People.’ However, as with Twitter and Facebook, people can use a fake name. Since many people will connect Instagram to their other social media accounts, if you found them on a different social media account under a different name, also make sure that you search Instagram for that name.

Searching Snapchat

Snapchat is similar to Instagram— it’s all about posting photos. It is also known for being a hotbed of inappropriate or adult-themed photos. If you don’t have a Snapchat account, download it and install it (at least temporarily to your phone). Much like Instagram, you will want to set up an account, but you do not need to use the account to search. Go through the signup process and, when your camera pops up at the end of the process, click the ghost at the top to go to a menu. Then, click ‘Add Friends.’ You won’t actually add them. This is just how you get to the search function.

You’ll be taken to a menu that allows you to add by username, snap code, or a feature called ‘Add nearby.’ If you have their cell phone number, add it to your cell phone. Then, just use ‘Add from Address Book.’ It will ask to sync to your contacts. Then you’ll see everyone that comes up with an account in your address book. Go through those and look for your potential hire.

‘Add by Username’ doesn’t really require their user name (but it is helpful – think about their Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook username). Just type their name in the search box and see what pops up.

Something to keep in mind about Snapchat is that it is designed to delete photos and messages, so you may not see a great deal on their profile. Snapchat only archives photos and messages for about 24 hours before they are deleted. If you screenshot anything, please note that users are notified if their photos or videos are saved by anyone in that way.

Google Plus and YouTube

A lot of people don’t actively update their Google Plus account. However, if you have Gmail, you have a Google Plus account (unless you go in and disable it). It never hurts to look on Google Plus. You should also look on YouTube. Your potential new hire may be attempting to become a YouTube sensation. You are not there to be a critic. You’re just stopping by to ensure that it’s not a lot of disparaging of past or current work.

It’s All about Your Values

The old saying is still true: good help is hard to find. If you think you’ve found some good help, that’s fantastic. Remember that this is someone that you will be putting time and money into to help them develop on a professional level. It’s important to make sure that whatever you can see on public posts belonging to your potential hire are things that you want to be associated with your law firm. Ultimately, the decision is yours. Social media just makes it easier to determine if someone is a good fit for your firm.

How to Research Potential Hires on Social Media was originally published on Lawyerist.com.

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