The transparent applicant – recruiting in the digital age

It is nothing new that recruiters trace their applicants’ activity on social networks in order to find out if they are suitable for a position or not. What is new, however, is that programmers have implemented an algorithm for calculating a social media popularity score that can easily be compared among applicants.

This score, called Klout-score, is a number between 0 (a digital no-name) and 100 (has a great deal of influential connections). The algorithm considers three factors:
1. quantity of digital relations, ie. how many friends, followers or subscribers you have
2. the power of mobilisation, meaning how many people share, like or comment on your posts
3. the quality of your network, ie. how influential your contacts are
Every user of social networks will be judged – whether they ask for it or not. The Klout-score of your Twitter account, for example, is accessible by anyone unless you oppose explicitly to this collection of data.

Why do companies care about what happens in the virtual world?
Criticism about a product or a company by an influential person will spread quickly and can undermine a company’s image. Praise from powerful people, on the other hand, is the most effective form of advertisement. If a company can determine who has the most influence, they will give them free samples or presents – and word of mouth will do the rest.

All these scores and calculations may seem intimidating, but they can teach us something: Choose wisely which information you share on social networks and with whom you want to be connected. Before you post a new picture or message, give it a thought: Would you be comfortable with your future boss or recruiter seeing this?

Does this mean that our personality is more important than our knowledge and skills? Another new trend suggests so: personality tests for choosing applicants. The main problem is that there is no standardised testing method and answers can often be interpreted in many ways, which results in a lack of objectiveness and comparability. Another criticism is that as soon as you have realised which personality traits a company expects from their applicants, it is not too difficult to manipulate your answers accordingly. Are there several questions regarding the readiness to take risks? This probably means that the company is looking for someone who is outgoing and daring.

Some people claim that being able to manipulate the test according to the recruiters’ expectations shows that you have the desired social skills to adapt to a situation. However, your boss will be disappointed if your real personality differs greatly from your allegedly honest answers. You will be unsatisfied with the position as well if you always need to pretend to be another person.

Present yourself in the best possible way, but never lie only to impress someone. Do not pretend to be a whole other person – it might get you the job but will backfire eventually.

Skills should always remain the deciding factor for who will be hired, but looking for certain personality traits in applicants – be it through social network analyses or personality tests – can bring several benefits. A team whose members think and work in the same way will collaborate better and be more efficient. Employees who identify with the company’s image will be more satisfied in their position and show more motivation to represent and advertise the company.

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