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July 7, 2013
by Cindy Marie Hosszu

Did you "Google" the last person you hired?

July 7, 2013 00:37 by Cindy Marie Hosszu  [About the Author]




Networking has a new meaning in today's job market...

The Past

In the past, some of the best insight into whether a person would be a good fit for a company has been personal interviews, positive personal references, IQ tests, and personality testing.  In our technologically changing world, there are new ways to gather this sort of information.  Social networking, data-mining, and even games and videos can be used to collect information about how people deal with various situations, how they multi-task, and even, to some degree, intelligence. [1]

The Present

The most popular vehicle for employers to seek insight into a candidate has been the professional networking site, LinkedIn.  According to an article written by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Christopher Steinmetz, LinkedIn offers the professional the personal reference through its use of the “Endorsements” feature.  An employer looking for a candidate can now see the resume, and references, as well as interests before making contact with the candidate.  This saves time in the hiring process.  A 2012 study by psychologists Jamie Guillory and Jeffery Hancock at Cornell University found that public resumes on LinkedIn foster more honesty with regard to work experience than the tradition paper resume, because it is public, and can more easily be called to question by family and friends.  However, interests or hobbies that are not known as objectively were not as honest.

In addition to LinkedIn, there are several other ways an employer can seek information about a person.  Looking at blogs, Facebook, and Twitter give a glimpse into a person’s character and interests, but can also create a bias based on looks, or interests that would not matter in the work environment, and would not come up in a face to face interview.

The Future?

New technology could take the social networking we currently use even further with data mining.  Data mining is software used to derive insight to make evidenced-based decisions.  Companies such as TweetPsych and YouAreWhatYouLike use Twitter and Facebook to create a personality profile for an individual based on the individual’s activity on those social networks with amazing accuracy.  Psychologist Michal Kosinski of the University of Cambridge published an analysis suggesting that the accuracy is greater than 75% for predicting gender, sexual orientation, religion, and political preference.  While the percentage is lower for personality traits and intelligence, it is still significantly accurate in estimating IQ and personality.  [2]

Another tool for networking is a video offered by companies like EnRecruit and Spark Hire, which asks candidates questions on video, and employers can evaluate their responses in private.  This offers a time savings, and a standardized interviewing process.

Additionally, gaming can also predict character traits through situational behavior.  This engaging innovation allows a candidate to play a game that analyses their choices and categorizes job skills and personality traits.  The company, Knack, bases personality profiles on research from behavioral scientists who have mapped certain responses in the game with job skills.  As an example, the game “Wasabi Waiter” can measure many skills such as the ability to multi-task, and remember details.  

Reckitt Benckiser, a multinational consumer goods company, uses the game “Insanely Driven” to profile personality.  Players must handle tough situations in a race that measures personality, ambition, sensitivity, and prudence.  This game bases assessment on the five-factor model Hogan Personality Inventory. 

L’Oreal uses the game “Reveal” for its cosmetics company.  This game is used to discover people based on the qualities such as Risk taking, analytical skills, and more.

Additionally, there are databases that can assess what people are saying about an individual.  These sites like Topsy and Klout can be used to see an individual’s influence on the world.

Can This Innovation Shape the Job Market?

There are pros and cons to all of this new technology.  On one hand, employers can save time scheduling, and sifting through papers to find the perfect fit for their company.  Candidates can avoid some of the anxiety of interviews, and loss of self-esteem from rejections.  It streamlines the process of hiring, while making it a bit more evidence based.

On the other hand, it also requires a loss of privacy for the person looking for a job.  Companies would need access to the information that is normally private or protected by password.  Another problem with the new technology is that people are not willing to give up that privacy in an age so tight on security.   It also tends to limit the human contact even further than we have already in our gadget run world.

Whether a job seeker wants to use the old resume and cover letter, or cutting edge new networking innovations, a career counselor can help research the best career match, based on a person’s individual qualities, and skills, as well as aid in finding the right tools for the job search in our ever changing job market.


 [1]  Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas, and Christopher Steinmetz. "The Perfect Hire." Scientific American Mind July-Aug. 2013: 43-47.

[2]  Kosinski, Michael, David Stillwell, and Thore Graepel. "Private Traits and Attributes Are Predictable from Digital Records of Human Behavior." Private Traits and Attributes Are Predictable from Digital Records of Human Behavior. PNAS, 11 Mar. 2013. Web. 06 July 2013.

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