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Is It Time to Use Klout/Kred Scores as Part of the Hiring Process?

by Jan 9, 2012, 5:18 am ET

Has anyone asked you “what’s your Klout score?” If you are on the leading edge of corporate recruiting and you are constantly on the lookout for new tools and approaches, one of the emerging tools that you should be aware of is social media analytics that measure online influence.

In a business world that is increasingly dominated by social media, it simply makes sense to hire individuals with extensive social networks and the ability to communicate with and influence others.

The major players include Klout, Kred, PeerIndex, and Empire Avenue. Klout and PeerIndex scores index to 100 while Kred scores reach 1,000. Empire Avenue is a stock-market simulation type game in which participants (stocks) earn virtual income based on social network activity and investments in others.

Using such measures as a screening tool helps identify talented people who have demonstrated skills relevant to a number of professional jobs. When you hire an individual who uses their network effectively, you have the potential to benefit from the collective knowledge and skills of the network, not just the individual.

Look Beyond the “Score” for Transferable Skills

“Buying influence” by recruiting someone based on their extensive contacts and their ability to influence others is not a new approach, but tools like those mentioned make it much easier to identify the level of influence that you are recruiting. Obviously, the use of social media analytics make the most sense when you are recruiting for jobs that are primarily focused on creating and managing a firm’s public-facing persona, but the skills involved in effective social networking extend much further into the professional landscape.

Individuals who are effective on social media become successful because they have a wide range of skills and capabilities that often lead to success in sales, customer service, communications, branding, and even analyst roles. Smart recruiters and hiring managers should look beyond the actual score that an individual has achieved and focus on identifying and assessing the skills the individual used to build or maintain their audience.

The 10 skill sets and capabilities that are generally required to effectively gain social media influence include:

  1. Communications – they have shown that they are effective and frequent communicators
  2. Relationship building — they are successful at attracting and building relationships with others
  3. Influencing – they have the ability to influence others and to get others to read and spread their messages
  4. Reputation — their reputation, credibility, recommendations, and ability to produce “Liked” content means that they will be listened to
  5. Reach – their extensive contacts, friends, followers, and subscribers means that any messages they send will reach thousands
  6. Branding – individuals with high social media scores have demonstrated they know how to build a personal brand and that knowledge may be transferable to product branding
  7. Crowdsource solutions — their extensive network means that they will be able to quickly “crowdsource” answers to problems that they encounter
  8. Writing ability — individuals who have a long blog history have demonstrated both their writing style and ability
  9. Knowledge of technology — they have demonstrated that they are on the leading edge of social media technology
  10. Adaptable – they are capable of continually adapting to the rapidly changing social media environment (if they have maintained their scores over a period of time)

Social Media Influence Assessment Is Not New

Although Klout/Kred scores may be new to you, using the Internet and social media to assess prospects is certainly not new. It is now quite common to find, assess, and do reference checks on candidates using Google searches, LinkedIn, and Facebook profiles, and the assessment of work samples that can be found online. In fact, a Microsoft-sponsored survey conducted by Cross-Tab found that 79% of HR and recruiting professionals responded that they currently use online reputation information as part of their hiring process.

Influence Scores Are Still in Their Infancy

Recruiters should be aware that while social media analytics are hot, the emerging “influence scores” are far from perfect. Each provider has weaknesses in their approach and all of them can be manipulated to some extent (just as search engine optimization can manipulate web page rankings). As a result, I recommend that they never be used as an elimination screen, but instead be used as one part of a multi-pronged assessment approach.

Recommended Action Steps

Before you select one to use, recruiters need to do their research so they understand the strengths and weaknesses of each provider’s approach compared to the needs of your firm. Obviously, the scores should be applied first to the jobs that require a high degree of social media savvy and where extensive contacts are essential to job success.

If the scores are to be passed along to hiring managers, the managers need to be provided with some information as to what conclusions can be fairly reached from these scores. And finally, if you have some time, identify the scores of your top- and bottom-performing current employees. Then use simple statistics to see if within your firm, there is a measurable positive correlation between social media scores and an employee’s on-the-job performance.

Final Thoughts

If you want to find your own individual score, it is easy and free to sign on to any of these services. If you are an applicant, adding your Kred or Klout score to your resume at the very least will let the recruiter know that you are aware that one’s online influence/exposure can be measured. If you are a corporate recruiter or recruiting leader, begin examining the pros and cons of these continually evolving tools. Although they still have many shortcomings and issues, some variation of them will become a standard assessment tool in the not-too-distant future.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • http://www.garethjones.me Gareth Jones

    Not sure i can agree with you on this one John. Firstly, good recruiters dont need these kind of tools if they know their market – its only the laziness that has crept into recruitment in the last 10 – 15 years that drives recruiters to rely on metrics like this. I personally think it is better to look at someones footprint individually rather than try and make sense of some collaborated algorithm.

    Secondly, there are plenty of individuals with extremely high klout/peerindex scores who would struggle to meet more than three of your 10 criteria above. Try it for yourself – go to Klout and look up some people with high scores, then pop their twitter handles into something like tweetstats.com and look at the conversational stats. You will see that there are a lot of people out there with high scores who use social channels to simply broadcast.

    The web has created an extremely accessible and open landscape for recruiters and the social layer has made individuals even more accessible than they were before. Hence, even if you are only a half decent recruiter you will be able to find the right people without having to resort to these currently still crude, embryonic and potentially misleading tools.

  • http://www.IrishRecruiter.com Ivan Stojanovic

    All but not Klout, since it measures users last 90 days only.

  • http://MedZilla.com Del Jay

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0huJJfeMSQ8

    Klout is not something that deserves our respect.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Dr. Sullivan. Seems like this would take too long and be largely irrelevant for most positions except for some marketing-related or possibly C-level positions in the public eye. IMHO, we need tools which will help recruiters streamline the internal hiring process, not tools which add more places for $6.25/hr sourcers to look for the the people that could be found more quickly and easily other places.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  • http://blog.kred.ly Shawn Roberts

    Dr. Sullivan,

    Hello, this is Shawn from Kred. Thank you for including us in your story on social influence scores for recruiting. One thing that recruiters may find valuable about Kred in particular is that it gives scores in communities connected by interests and affiliations in addition to a global network score. Kred is also integrated into Playground, our social analytics platform, where users can construct custom communities to find influencers by any subject they wish.

    We also have full transparency of score calculation on our Activity Statements. For recruiters, this means that Kred can assure that a candidate’s influence has been derived from their connections in relevant communities with relevant people.

    We agree that influence measures are in their early days — we like to call it the ‘Mendel Stage’ — and its feedback from our communities that will help us make these effective tools for recruiters, marketers and others. Please let us know your ideas at contact@peoplebrowsr.com or tweeting us at @kred.

    Very best,
    Shawn Roberts

  • http://www.safgcareers.com Gordon Frutiger

    “Influence Scores Are Still in Their Infancy”

    In my mind, you should have the article with this point. Also, I don’t see any mention of vetting this potential practice with Legal & Compliance.

  • Sandra McCartt

    Surely you jest. I don’t know whether to die laughing, ask you if it was a slow Monday to figure out something to write about or if you have bumped your head on a jagged piece of sky. If the quesion is serious the answer is “Of course not, that is the silliest damn thing that has popped up on the internet since people thought Bill Gates was going to send them money for forwarding emails.”

  • Sandra McCartt

    As a recruiter if anybody has their Klout score on their resume i take it off. I don’t want them to look like an adolescent idiot to a hiring manager.

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  • http://www.bodognation.com Paul Humphreys

    This article confuses me. It starts by extolling the virtues of SM rankings and Klout scores as an assessment tool, then goes on to say you need actuallt to look beyond Klout scores to identify real transferable skills in potential recruits.
    I think I will stick to good old fashioned proper competency based interviewing.
    How about a counter-argument – people with high Klout scores are less appealing as potential employees because they spend all day on social networks and not doing the jobs they are paid to do?

    I’m all for embracing new technology, but considering a Klout score of a candidate opens up a Pandora’s box of potential litigation, not to mention the fact it is highly subjective. There are far better ways of assessing a candidate. This technology is not proven and is more likely to lead to you missing out on good candidates.

    I also take issue with this assertion: “79% of HR and recruiting professionals responded that they currently use online reputation information as part of their hiring process”. I don’t think they do. These statistics are banded about all over blogs such as these, but bear no relation to my experience, or the experience of my network of recruiters in the UK whom I have discussed this with at length. These stats are only ever quoted by “social media gurus” to try to talk up the use of social media within recruitment.

  • http://www.recruitmentmisfit.com Steve Ward

    I specialise in the Social media space, and recognise and read about Klout, PeerIndex and Kred very often – and such a score, is NOT a measurement for hiring suitability – unless your job will involve a significant degree of social media communications and contact building. Even then, when we select Social Media or Digital professionals, the Klout is almost NEVER taken into consideration.

    We’re recruiters and HR professionals right? – Hire people on their actual abilities to do THE job, and by methods of assessing attitude and potential. It has been proven that someone’s dog, can do nothing other than automation, and have a higher Klout score than the active owner.

    If you want to embrace the 21st century and assess the existence and effectiveness of a candidate’s online footprint, read their Twitter stream, look at their blog, and dip into their LinkedIn/Facebook profiles.

    Recruiting using Klout and other such tools is unnecessarily gimmicky, lazy and inaccurate.

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  • jitendra shekhawat

    Embryonic stage.Too early to figure out.Using for recruitment now? Its like going overboard.To read footprint and assess Li/Fb/Twitter are available.One can decipher through their activities.

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