Getting to Know You, Getting to Know all About You … Assessment and Social Networking

Mar 24, 2010

logo_linkedin_88x22Taking a relaxing bath last night, I found myself thinking about making an update to my Facebook page and about how I need to get going on creating an invite for an event I am having in a few weeks. My thoughts then wandered to musing on how I had used LinkedIn extensively during my daily work and how absolutely helpful it had been. In the space of about an hour I: connected with an old colleague who I hadn’t spoken with in a few years; found the right contact to speak with regarding one of my client engagements; entered into a really interesting theoretical discussion with other I/O psychologists and was invited to a networking event at an upcoming conference.

Reflecting on my Facebook and LinkedIn experiences got me thinking about the excellent article about Brazen Careerist that recently ran in the ERE Daily and how it is seeking to use social networking to change the way people demonstrate their ability to perform jobs. It was at this point that I had an “aha” moment in which I realized once and for all that Social networking is here to stay.

Forgive me for being a master of the obvious but I think that while many of us are actively using and benefiting from the latest in web technology, a good number of us have yet to fully contemplate the gravity of the changes that are currently going on right under our very noses. To begin comprehending the depths of what is going on, just observe any person under 30 for even a short amount of time and you will realize that connectivity and interconnectivity are becoming firmly woven into the fabric of our modern existence.

I then must ask myself why it has proven so attractive.

The answer lies in the fact that social networking is really the next logical extension of the Internet’s ability to create a level of interconnectedness that has previously been unknown to mankind. I think we can all agree that social networking, while providing tremendous entertainment value, is also popular because it allows us to be more productive and efficient while also serving to help us share knowledge, experiences, and opinions. It is probably not a stretch to assume that we have all grown personally and professionally as a result of social networking.

The next question that popped into my head was “How will social networking impact the use of pre-employment assessment?”

To answer this question, we must first examine the bigger question “How will social networking impact the world of staffing and hiring?” Of course there are many easy and obvious answers to this question, all related to increased interconnectivity and access to information about people and their work-related experiences. Here are some more specific things related to social networking and hiring that I think we can look forward to experiencing in the near future.

Death of the resume as we presently know it: The various elements of a resume are being teased apart and presented in a different format that is based more on profiles and portfolios that follow a standardized format.

Providing a capabilities presentation via the communication of ideas: The ideas that are driving the folks at Brazen Careerist are really interesting to me. The ability to use dialogue and discussion to present one’s capabilities, interests, and knowledge will have value to potential employers.

Creating a transportable, evolving identity that relates to the workplace: The various elements that are presented as part of a social networking profile are continuing to expand and evolve. It seems that we are moving toward standardized profiles that contain a wide range of information about who we are and what we have done. These profiles will grow and change as we do, allowing us a venue to remain highly current and relevant in our presentation of ourselves to others.

Sharing input, information, and opinions from others about work-related issues across moments in time and technology platforms: Social networking is a great way to get third-party information about someone whom you do not know. Relying on opinions and comments from others to build a real picture of the relevance of something or someone is standard for today’s online communities. This already has and will continue to be applied to the hiring paradigm.

The evolution of the concept of a “job.” One of the biggest factors that will continue to impact hiring is the impact that interconnectivity and technology will have on the idea of a “job.” We can expect to see jobs become a short-term proposition, with movement between work “moments” facilitated by the ability to easily and accurately identify persons whose skills and experience can be used to help companies reach specific short-term goals.

Assessment has a role in helping the hiring process evolve along the lines presented above. The overall way I see assessment making a strong contribution is in its ability to help create trait-based virtual identities that capture an individual’s ability to perform specific types of work within a specific environment. Here are some of the ways assessment will contribute to this end:

Replacing resumes with profiles: Matching persons with job opportunities and evaluating them relative to the requirements of a job or project will be greatly facilitated by the creation of profiles that include information provided by assessments. Adding information provided by assessments to one’s online profiles can help provide a more complete view of an individual in terms of their work-related identity. Important factors such as values, traits, personality elements, and interests can be summarized via assessment results that are added to one’s profile. The real key to this advancement lies in the acceptance of a standardization of the work-related information that comprises one’s profile so that one common language can be used to describe everyone. This will allow matching to be highly relevant and accurate while helping provide a standard way to discuss humans and the work we do.

Providing the ability to view a person from multiple external perspectives: In the world of performance management, 360-degree feedback represented a quantum leap. Efficient 360 was just not possible before web-based technology. The ability to collect work relevant information from a variety of sources, all linked via social networks, has already begun to make a difference. The next step will be using standardized assessments to provide all parties with a common, work-related language with which to discuss an individual relative to a specific set of work or environmental requirements.

Demonstrating relevant capabilities in real time: I fully expect there to be an intersection between social networking and gaming that allows individuals to demonstrate their work-related capabilities to potential employers. While sandbox worlds like Second Life may not have made an instant impact in the short run (when is the last time anyone even mentioned Second Life with regard to recruiting?), the rise of avatars doing virtual work is coming. In the short run, I think it is only a matter of time before we see collaborative real-time simulations that tap into traits, skills, and knowledge required for a wide range of jobs and careers. Job simulations have long been one of the most powerful and relevant forms of assessment used to predict job performance and I expect social networking and collaborative gaming to take simulations to the next level.

While some of the things I have mentioned will likely require artificial intelligence that is presently beyond our comprehension, the foundation will still be provided by the science of psychology and its ability to use scientific methods to understand and measure the traits and characteristics required to do a job within a specific environment. As with the evolution of employee selection thus far, an equal blend of technology science will be required. The result will be a much more exciting, dynamic, and relevant dialogue between employer and employee.

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