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By Tim Buckley Owen


Where do employers go first to get background information on potential job candidates? Two surveys suggest that it’s not LinkedIn but Facebook – so, as employers focus their efforts on burnishing their image on social media, perhaps it’s time for the rest of us to do so too.

Employers may use LinkedIn to hand pick people for executive positions. But when it comes to interacting with students and graduates they prefer Facebook, according to a survey by Potentialpark, a specialist in market research about job seekers.

Quite apart from being bigger, more open and free, employers believe Facebook is where the action is (Potentialpark told Mashable). People are far readier to update their Facebook page than their LinkedIn profile, and employers who put up a Facebook page tend to find it can generate interactive comment, whereas LinkedIn is a bit one-way.

Candidates may not think Facebook is the right environment to initiate talks about careers – but there’s not a lot they can do about it. And although 90% look for jobs on the web, they find actually applying online a complex experience and have little confidence that their application will ever be read by a warm-bodied recruiter (summary of findings downloadable here).

Potentialpark’s job is to help employers with their branding, recruitment communication and application processes. So it makes sense for job seekers to attack their own strategy with equal rigour, and one outfit that may be able to help them is Reppler.

It’s a social media monitoring service that helps users manage their image – showing them how they’re perceived across social networks, telling them the makeup of their connections and identifying any potential issues and risks. And risks there are a-plenty.

Confirming Potentialpark’s findings, Reppler also finds that over three quarters of employers use Facebook to screen candidates compared with less than half who use LinkedIn. Almost 70% have rejected someone because of what they’ve seen about them on a social networking site, and the reasons for rejection are pretty evenly spread.

The biggest proportion – 13% – rejected candidates because they lied about their qualifications, and many cited other work-related reasons too. Fair enough – but almost as many had rejected candidates for posting inappropriate photos, drug or drink use.

Employers don’t seem to be using social media as a final check either (like taking up references only when the job offer is made). For almost half of the Reppler respondents, social sites are the first place they go after receiving the application.

No reason to doubt that organisations like Potentialpark and Reppler can help recruiters and job seekers with the tricky business of engaging via social networks. Can’t help feeling, though, that a bit of common sense could do the job too.


About this item:

Tim is an information skills trainer and writer on the information industry with over 40 years' experience in the profession. His career has encompassed information management, writing, editing, training, government policy advice and corporate media & marketing.

Besides writing for FreePint, Tim runs courses for training providers and private clients on enquiry handling, abstracting & summarising, information packaging & presentation and information management. The sixth edition of his classic handbook Successful Enquiry Answering Every Time is published by Facet Publishing. You can find details of Tim's training services at

Tim can also be reached at

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