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

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.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.

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