Facebook Recruiting Is All the Rage

Aug 21, 2012
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Violence is as American as apple pie. —Eldridge Cleaver

Todd Raphael just did a piece on Facebook as it relates to a conversation he had with Steven Rothberg, and that piece really hit a nerve for me.

As you might know, Facebook does not come with a user’s manual. Devoid of these instructions for use, it is open season to make use of Facebook in all ways that fit with your beliefs, lifestyle, and purpose. This might be good if there actually was a separation between our personal lives and our professional lives, but that line seems to be disappearing. I for one do not see this as a good thing for the world of recruiting in general and I certainly see Facebook as being far more of a problem then a solution.

I am not sure where Facebook is as it relates to contemporary society and its place therewith, but it has become monstrously big in the lives of many. I often wonder what we did in the days before it came into prominence, and I for one intend to find out as I scale back big time and only check in two or three times a week for a few moments. I need to do this and to regain control. I have said some pretty unpleasant things to those who disagree with my politics and I will not do that again. My new watchword is unfriend and/or ignore.

As far as Facebook and recruiting, I have grave concerns for the benefits to be gained, as these two entities might very well turn out to be a very deadly combination. Facebook is, among many other things, an ongoing real-time conversation, and this might be good in some areas but it is not good in others. Let me tell you three reasons why:

  1. Facebook allows you to know others in ways that poison the well. I have learned some things about people that I simply do not wish to know. This is not good in a place where recruiting is concerned, because when evaluating candidates we need to have a clear mind and make decisions based upon a candidate’s ability to do the job. To know that the candidate hates Obama will add nothing of value to one’s ability to make decisions with a clear head. We are all social creatures and have our beliefs and our prejudices. In reality, most of us struggle to do what is right and to keep the business end of things where they belong. Facebook will do little to help us keep the opinions we have of other folks in check and make rational judgments in terms of ability and hiring decisions.
  2. All things being equal, we tend to hire those we like and trust as opposed to those we do not like and do not trust. Even if it is possible to make cool and calculating decisions, it is highly unlikely that our judgment will not be compromised. I believe that having an understanding of the politics and thoughts of people before the interview is not a good thing. Many of us will have a distain for those of us whose views we vehemently disagree with, and a kinder dispensation towards those who think as we think. This is human nature. If you are devoid of this fundamental frailty, I think that is great, but few of us are. I for one am probably not all that good in this area.
  3. Would you go to an interview and discuss your politics? Gay marriage and other issues of sensitivity? Bush or Obama or Romney or Don Rumsfeld? I certainly would not do this, yet Facebook, even in a passive way, allows us to identify and explore the thoughts and comments of people we might wish to hire and/or partner with in ways that adds yet another dimension to the perception of what we see as right and what we see as wrong. Furthermore, it does it in a way that is public, subtle, and quite pervasive. Once again, I do not see this as a good thing.

Politics aside, we are a polarized country. Gun violence is off the charts, people are struggling to adjust to a new world order, and we say things to people on Facebook that we would never dream of saying in person. There was a time that it was considered unwise to discuss politics and religion. Has that changed, and if so, is that a change for the better or simply another reason to lash out and smite those who fail to see the world as we see it?

It is my sincerest hope that we as a community can, if nothing else, raise our awareness of Facebook and other forms of social media as it relates to influencing our ability to make judgments and hire based upon qualifications and experience. If we fail to do this, we open up a new and dangerous Pandora’s box with ramifications that we as a society are ill-equipped to handle at this time.

My wife Corinne, also a recruiter, has two simple rules that should never be confused.

  1. Want to connect for the business world? Use LinkedIn.
  2. Want friends and family? Stick to Facebook and create friendships very carefully.

Social media is very powerful. If we do not handle with care, we will one day wish we did so.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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