Does Social Media Use Predict Job Success?

I’ve been speaking more often to college students about the importance of actively managing their online identities–including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

I’ve gotten great feedback from Blogging4Jobs readers about how to successfully keep the students’ attention–including focusing on how employers are using social media to screen candidates.

Most of the reasons recruiters cite for using social media to evaluate candidates are obvious–checking for inappropriate behavior in photos and posts, discriminatory comments, and evaluating communications skills.

As I researched this question to share the answer with students, I found there may be even deeper, more compelling reasons to use social media to evaluate job candidates.

This was spurred by my thinking about insights offered in a great book I read several years ago. In Blink, the seminal work by Malcolm Gladwell, the case is made that the snap decisions of our subconscious minds can be more effective than our logical thinking processes.

Does Social Media Use Predict Job Success?

Gladwell cites a psychological study in which people who were given 15 minutes to visit the dorm rooms of college students were better able to describe the students’ personalities than his or her own friends. The book is packed with much more compelling research on this point and I highly recommend it.

This points to the fact that our “gut instincts” about a job candidate can mean much more than listening to what they say in interviews. In other words, if we listen to it, our subconscious mind will cut through the candidate’s spin and help us understand who they really are.

More interesting is that there is some evidence that social media may be even more effective in helping evaluate a candidate’s longer-term job performance.

Though much more research needs to be done, this study finds that Facebook beats personality tests for predicting job success.

In fact, the study found that a simple 10-minute perusal of Facebook ended up beating personality tools as a predictor of success in a new job.

My gut 😉 tells me this is true: the raw, impulsive nature of social media postings can give an authentic feel for someone’s personality.

Of course, the caveat in this is if people are using reputation management to control their online identities, it might be a false front.  But there, too, I believe a sharp evaluator’s instinct will sniff out a misleading online profile.

What do you think?

Can social media help in choosing the right candidate? Can it be used to predict success in a particular job?

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John Millen

John Millen, @johnmillen, is the Chief Strategist and blogger for Reputation Group. He is also a husband, father, runner and cyclist. John partners with leaders to improve their communications skills and confidence. Connect with John on LinkedIn.

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