Recruiters Track ‘Online History'

Be careful about what you post on Facebook or Orkut or even what you tweet, warn recruiters. For even a seemingly innocuous remark about an issue, event, game, or a person could cost you your next job.

Checking the online history and behaviour of candidates is increasingly becoming common for companies looking for the right fit. “Companies are increasingly tracking candidates though these social media and basing hiring decisions on them,” says Mr Rishi Das, Chief Executive Officer, CareerNet, an HR recruitment firm.

Mr Rajesh Lalwani, Founder, Blogworks, a social media consulting firm, says that to be fair to candidates, employers must make a distinction between personality traits and character flaws. “If a person says he parties a lot, should that be used against him? Does this mean his character is flawed? These are decisions the company has to make with maturity.”

Assess leadership, knowledge

Companies should focus on assessing thought leadership and knowledge on these sites and ignore the frivolous aspects, he says, recommending blogs and Twitter to analyse candidates. Blogworks also recently hired a ‘knowledge executive' by studying her blog and following her on Twitter. Such a search, according to CareerNet, averted what could have been a hiring disaster for it of a candidate almost shortlisted for a senior position in an MNC. “A search on the Web revealed that one of the candidates had a case filed against him. We withdrew the name from the list immediately,” the head-hunter said.

Though the practice is widely prevalent in the US with about 75 per cent of the companies there using social media to analyse the profile of candidates, it is only now picking up in India.

“HR teams are collating data about potential employees through social networking sites, though companies are not overtly saying their decisions are based on opinions posted on such Web sites,” says Mr C. Mahalingam, Executive Vice-President and Chief People Officer, Symphony Services.

Dr Srinivas Kandula, Global Head, HR, iGATE, says, “We leverage sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Yahoo groups and alumni networks to identify middle- and senior-level candidates. They have significantly aided our recruitment efforts and considerably shrunk hiring costs.”

Mr Madan Padaki, Director of MeritTrac Services, an assessment company, is sceptical about the concept working for junior-level recruitment. “This will work for higher level hires where the numbers are low. For mass recruitment, where volumes are high, a lot of sifting through information has to happen.”