A couple days ago, I received an application via Linkedin for a recruiting position we have available at our firm. The email began like most do: “I’m interested because…My resume is attached….Let me know when you’re free…” Pretty boilerplate-type stuff. I put the candidate’s information into a folder of people I’d be reaching out to later that day.
Ten minutes later my phone had a notification. It was from the almighty Facebook--the king of social media. As I opened the message, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The same candidate who had just applied on Linkedin had also requested to be my “friend” on Facebook.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Why would the candidate be so bold? I thought to myself, “This is something that everyone knows not to do. Right?”
After talking to some of our internal employees about what had just happened, I received a mixed reaction. Some laughed as I had done, others stared blankly at me and asked, “Is that not something you should do? I don’t know the rules for things like that.” That’s when it occurred to me: There are no rules in social media and job hunting, we’re simply making this up as we go.
Sure, we’ve learned along the way that you shouldn’t Tweet negative things about your current employer or post a status update that contains sensitive proprietary information. Going even further, companies are starting to pop up that specialize in combing through a potential candidate’s social networking presence and calling it a “social network background check.” But how you use your social networks to connect during your job search is something that is still somewhat of a grey area.
Not every social network is created equal and you should treat them accordingly. This is indeed not a universal truth. It is instead an unwritten rule--a rule that Facebook, Twitter, and Google would cringe to hear. They would like you to use their platform as your “one stop shop” for everything social media related. The fact is, that’s not how things work.
Candidates need to be smart about how they search and connect with people who are in charge of the internal recruiting processes at organizations. I’ve created a list for what I’ve dubbed the Big 4. This is what I believe to be the current protocol for connecting in a professional environment:
Again, there is no absolute and this will no doubt continue to evolve. But just as wearing sweatpants to an interview can ruin your chances, so can a misstep on social media.