Yes, some evidence of your less-than-stellar moments is probably best kept hidden from prospective employers, but your Facebook profile could also be the key to scoring a job.
New research has shown that a quick review of a Facebook profile offers an unbiased look at a job candidate, providing clues about their character and personality. The social networking site can help employers better predict job success than the standardised tests that have been used for years by human resources departments around the world.
Donald Kluemper, one of the lead researchers on the study, and a management professor at Northern Illinois University in the US, said that while companies have traditionally used personality and IQ tests to gauge the potential of job candidates, it became apparent that more employers were looking to online sources information on job applicants.
"Hiring specialists were just trying to eliminate someone who was doing something inappropriate," Kluemper said. "What we did is try to assess the personality traits in a similar way that they might be assessed by a standardised test."
The study saw several specially trained "raters" spending five to 10 minutes evaluating the Facebook pages of 274 individuals. The following extract from the study describes the types of characteristics they were looking for:
"Those high in agreeableness are trusting and get along well with others, which may be represented in the extensiveness of personal information posted. Openness to experience is related to intellectual curiosity and creativity, which could be revealed by the variety of books, favorite quotations or other posts showing the user engaged in new activities and creative endeavors. Extroverts more frequently interact with others, which could be represented by the number of SNW (social networking websites) friends a user has."
Six months later, the researchers followed up with the supervisors of 69 of the study participants (about 25 percent of the group) and found that across the board, the quick Facebook evaluations had more accurately predicted their success than standard tests.
"I think one of the differences is that you change the frame of reference," Kluemper said. "You're asking the rater, 'Is this person a hard worker?' On a personality test, the employee would be asked, 'How hard a worker are you?' One of the criticisms of self-reporting personality testing is that it can be faked. On a Facebook page, that's a lot harder to do."
Perhaps we should start viewing our online profiles as assets, rather than halls of shame.
Do you think your Facebook profile would make a positive impression on prospective employers?
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