Money & Business

How Much Should You Trust a Job Candidate’s LinkedIn Profile?

By / Jun 17, 2014

A new study shows that while LinkedIn profiles offer a good barometer of a job candidate’s background and experience, they can’t help employers gauge the person’s demeanor and attitude.

As impressive as that potential hire’s profile on LinkedIn looks, it probably doesn’t tell the whole story.

While studies have shown that social recruitment—using social media to find and vet job candidates—is on the rise, a new preliminary study from AETHOS Consulting Group offers a different perspective on the practice, one that focuses on how much employers should trust those profiles.

“Anyone using LinkedIn, or social recruiting in general, has the challenge of appraising profiles, which an increasing number of HR pros have anecdotally characterized as a tricky task,” AETHOS Managing Director James Houran, Ph.D., recently wrote in a blog post about the study. “In fact, some of the whisperings … parallel the psychological phenomenon of ‘profile inflation’ that online dating sites have battled for years.”

In other words, no matter how qualified a candidate might appear based on the long list of credentials on his or her profile, it can still be difficult to predict how the person will perform in the role.

To get a better understanding of how LinkedIn factors into the hiring process, AETHOS conducted a preliminary survey of 60 experienced HR professionals about how they use the service in recruitment.

Some key findings:

  • LinkedIn is primarily used in the recruitment of candidates for senior and mid-level management positions (87 percent and 80 percent, respectively) and rarely for entry-level positions (8 percent).
  • A majority of respondents said they were confident in the overall accuracy of professional background information on a candidate’s LinkedIn profile after having met the person.accuracy-of-Background (Click to enlarge)
  • The perceived accuracy of a potential candidate’s demeanor and attitude was far less consistent across the board.accuracy-of-Demeanour (Click to enlarge)

“LinkedIn, and arguably social recruiting broadly speaking, appears most effective for making contact with potential candidates, gathering background information, and obtaining referrals or leads for additional candidates,” Houran said. “This suggests the platform is useful in sourcing and screening candidates, as opposed to selection.”

Although LinkedIn and other social networks could be seen as challengers to association job boards, social recruiting has been a complementary tool rather than a replacement, said Christine Smith, president of Boxwood Technology, Inc., which specializes in online career centers.

“LinkedIn provides information in addition to, rather than instead of,” said Smith. “Niche job boards haven’t seen an impact because they represent a very specific talent pool. If you’re looking for a chemical engineer, you’re going to go someone like the American Chemical Society. You’re probably not going to get as many resumes as you would on the big job board sites, but you’re going to get the best ones.”

Does your association turn to social media when vetting potential job candidates? How helpful have you found them to be?

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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