The overlap of personal and business activities on social media has made managing your personal brand more important than ever.

The amount of personal information that is publicly available on services like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram is tremendous. A quick Google search of a name and email address can yield deep results regarding a person’s interests, opinions, and history.

For an employer, this offers a unique opportunity to get to know a candidate in a deeper way before or after an interview. A candidate’s social media presence can offer insight into what he or she might be like as an employee. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you’re looking to hire someone.

What To Look For

  • Thought Leadership: Does the person you’re considering post thoughtful and interesting original content? Does this person frequently generate discussion among his or her friends or followers? This can be a very valuable asset to your business. Thought leaders can bring attention to your brand and offer unique perspectives. They can also get the ball rolling on projects by sparking conversations that excite those around them.
  • Curators: Not everyone needs to create original content on the web to be valuable to your team. Being able to recognize great content and share it consistently can be an effective skill as well. Individuals with discerning tastes in online content might be able to direct and refine your business. They can point out weak spots and bring attention to the potentially influential work of others in your field.
  • Advocates: Some people are simply passionate promoters of brands, products and ideas. These individuals are very likely to be great team players. If you can focus that energy around your brand, project, or product, advocates can motivate your team as well.

If you want to get a handle on a potential hire’s social media influence, you may want to take a look at his or her Klout score. This metric, while imperfect, can tell you what topics people find your candidate influential on. Klout can help you see beyond things like follower numbers to gauge this person’s real influence.

Things to Avoid

  • Negativity: The first thing to look out for is negativity. Does your candidate talk about his or her previous employers and co-workers? Whether the criticism is justified is irrelevant, if your candidate is unhappy about an employer and tweeting about it, it’s likely this could happen under your employ as well. People like this can drag a whole team down with them. Beware.
  • Inappropriate Content: If your candidate is sharing inappropriate content (not behind protected Facebook Walls or Google+ Circles) it could be representative of poor judgement. It can also possibly offend customers and co-workers. What is considered inappropriate is entirely subjective. You need to decide where to draw the line in the sand. Make sure your company values are in sync with your potential hires.
  • Self Promoters: Be mindful of those who spend too much of their time talking themselves up on social media. Although these individuals may bring you a new audience, make sure they’re not more focused on promoting themselves than they are with building your brand.

Back to The Future

It’s worth keeping in mind that as much as things have changed, in some ways they’ve still stayed the same. Ultimately you’re looking for hard-working, passionate individuals who share a common vision or drive with you and your team.

Social media has allowed individuals to be more expressive and honest in public than ever. While this comes with some risk, it allows for much more discussion and creativity. Don’t be afraid of openness; allow it to flourish. Encourage employees and candidates alike to be active on social media and allow liberal guidelines to govern it. The benefit of happy employees and fresh thinking will likely outweigh the risks.

[Image credits: John Morrison, Samuel Mann, Adreson Vita Sá]