With the economy on the fritz and layoffs adding up, more and more people are looking for work. This is good news if you’re looking to hire. But how can you find the most promising candidates in the growing pile of resumes on your desk? Use online resources.
First, see if the candidate has a Web site. An increasing number of job seekers are creating their own sites, where they provide information about their work history and past clients and samples of their work. You can also use the Internet to cross-reference the materials on their sites. For example, make sure the journal they’ve been published in is a respected media outlet, not just a high school publication.
Finding out more about a candidate’s previous employers or clients and seeing samples of their work can help you determine whether they’re a good cultural fit for your company. If you can get excited about the organizations they’ve been a part of and the work they’ve posted, chances are you’ll be excited to have them join your team. Since job seekers’ Web sites tend to be a little less formal than resumes and include more room for a personal message, they can reveal a lot about a candidate’s personality and whether they’re a skillful communicator.
Next, start visiting business-oriented social networking sites such as LinkedIn. LinkedIn has millions of users, and pretty much anyone looking for employment will have created an account, providing details on their work, education, and, most important, their connections. The business networking site organizes its users based on the people they know. You can find out how many connections a person has and if he or she is connected to you in some way. You can also see if the candidate has been recommended by others. For advanced features, including the ability to send mail to any LinkedIn user, upgrade your account to one of the business options (starting at $24.95 per month).
Another career-minded networking site worth investigating is Doostang, which is marketed to college graduates with ambitions in the professional world. But don’t neglect the more casual social networking sites either. Facebook, for one, has become a force across the globe. And it’s not just for teenagers anymore. Marketing firm iStrategyLabs found that in the last half of 2008, Facebook’s fastest-growing demographic was 35- to 54-year-olds, growing a whopping 276.4 percent. The site can be used to find out more about a job seeker’s background and may disclose more about the relationships they have with the people who are vouching for them. One caveat: It’s difficult to view a Facebook user’s profile unless it’s set to public.
Twitter, based on the premise of users answering the simple question “What are you doing?,” can help you get to know candidates by noting their activities and what’s important to them. And of course, one of the best ways to learn more about candidates is to read their blogs. A person’s blog reveals a lot about their passions, motivations, and personality in general. But when using social media to assess job candidates, be sure you’re only considering appropriate information and you can prove it’s what you based your decision on. You don’t want to run the risk of getting into legal trouble over hiring practices.
Lastly, don’t forget about Google. Think of it as a portal to all of the social media sites mentioned in this article and then some. In many cases you can use Google to verify job seekers’ work histories and find samples or evidence of their work as well.
These tools can also be used to find candidates who haven’t even applied for a job. Just send them a message to see if they’re interested. And when you’ve done all your online research, don’t forget to pick up that old-fashioned thing sitting on your desk and call some references.