Klout has received a lot of attention since its launch in 2008, and it’s stirred up  debate over what it actually tells you about a person’s social media presence.

A Klout score measures your “social influence” on a scale from 1-100, based on interactions and engagement throughout your various social networks. Some think that it’s a superficial number and not a real reflection of your actual influence, while others are taking full advantage by flaunting their high scores.

However, even if you couldn’t care less about your Klout score, it could be holding you back in the job market. TechCrunch’s Drew Olanoff recently pointed out a job posting for a Salesforce community manager where the company required its job applicants to have a score of at least 35. Klout founder and CEO Joe Fernandez argues that a high Klout score is just like any other selling point on a resume. At Insights, we strongly disagree. Here’s why.

The Potential to Overlook Great Candidates

While a community manager working for Salesforce would certainly require a firm understanding of the social media space, an applicant’s personal social media presence might not reflect his or her professional experience and previous work history. A low Klout score could even show that the candidate typically spends more time working than updating his or her personal social profiles; a favorable quality in most employers’ eyes.

If candidates have experience managing multiple national brands, but don’t pay much mind to their own social influence, you might end up losing out on great talent — especially if you judge the applicants by their Klout scores alone. For example, a Wired article from last spring featured a man named Sam Fiorella, who was recruited for a VP position at a Toronto marketing agency. With 15 years of experience at companies like AOL, Kraft, and Ford, he felt that he was qualified for the position.

During his interview, Mr. Fiorella was asked for his Klout score. He confessed he didn’t even know what Klout was (which is not uncommon), and the interviewer pulled up the website and showed Fiorella his relatively low score of 34. The interview was cut short soon after, and the company later went on to hire someone with a score of 67.

Scores Can Reflect Irrelevant Influences

A very high Klout score could have nothing to do with the industry a job falls within, making it irrelevant to even consider. For example, a Klout score will increase by simply broadcasting about one topic frequently. This means that if a candidate tweets about beer every day, his or her their Klout score could be higher than someone with 20 years of relevant experience in an industry that actually pertains to the job.

The Unstable Science Behind the Score

Some people have no idea why their Klout scores are exceptionally low or high, and that’s one criticism that Klout has faced over the past few years. Klout measures three categories over a 90 day period: reach, amplification, and network. It also measures the topics you’re influential about, but with no links back to how these topics were chosen for you.

Klout is easily manipulated, proven by tests that concluded a Twitter bot could produce a score of 50 in 80 days, though Klout has addressed some of those issues since then. A Klout score also increases by the amount of activity you’re generating, which favors a quantity-over-quality approach. It also faces the all-too-common problem of using a completely subjective quality measurement.

But quality of the measurement isn’t the only problem. Just as important is the lack of transparency about how the algorithm ranks people. We don’t know all of what Klout is considering — and a critically thinking hiring manager shouldn’t trust a tool he or she doesn’t fully understand.

Then there’s the fact that what little transparency Klout offers sheds light on less than savory ranking practices. For example, Klout offers some features that allow your would-be job candidate to raise his or her Klout score simply by using Klout. This rewards Klout members with higher scores by virtue of spending time on Klout and getting exposure to its advertisers, but you’d be hard pressed to think of a way in which gaming Klout and asking for +Ks helps your candidate’s real reach — or your brand’s, for that matter.

Like any new technology, social network, or product, Klout is imperfect and shouldn’t be used to inform such an important decision as hiring a job applicant. Perhaps a couple of years down the road, if Klout has ironed out all of its wrinkles and offered up some transparency, recruiters might reconsider it as an effective recruitment tool.

[Image credits: City of Marrieta, GA, Jim Kelly, Horian Varlan]