Hiring Tips in a Networked World

Fun at Work

I’m seeing more companies starting to hire again as the U.S economy slowly swings back into positive territory. Whether you’re looking for remote workers or office workers, there are a few ways to improve your chances of finding the best talent, regardless of location.

Many jobs now require someone who can collaborate with people online who might be spread out around the world and across time zones. What better way to get real examples of a potential candidate’s communication style and collaboration skills than to see how they interact with people online?

  1. Use your network. When you first open your application for a new position, reach out to your social network and have your co-workers or employees do the same. You’re much more likely to find someone who is a great fit for the position and your company if you already have some connection to that person. Hiring and training a new employee is expensive; having another team member or connection who can vouch for their work makes it more likely that you’ll end up with a good hire.
  2. Ask for links. When you first contact a potential candidate for an interview, ask her to send you a few links that demonstrate how she works, thinks or communicates. This could include blogs, social network profiles, online community participation, articles and more. You should use these links to find out more about the candidate. I would focus on writing and communication style along with examples of collaboration and interactions with other people online. You should also use what you learn here to come up with some interview questions tailored to that person’s online presence and get more information about any apparent strengths or weaknesses.
  3. Do your research. We all like to show ourselves in the best possible light when interviewing; I usually assume that most of what a candidate sends me will be favorable, so I do some of my own research. A simple search on their name using your favorite search engine is a good start, but for people with common names, you may not be able to find much. I usually broaden my search to include name plus city, name plus last employer, name plus occupation or job title, screen names, etc. With any luck, you’ll find some of his writing and can get a better feel for how he interacts with other people online. On the negative side, this might uncover some things he didn’t want you to see. You should also find out if you’re connected to the candidate in any way. If you have some common connections, you might be able to reach out to some of those connections (see the “don’ts” section below for some caveats).
  4. Show your talent. Have a website, blog, Facebook page or other online presence for your team, and use it to show how great it is to work on your team. A great way to attract the best candidates is to look like you’re a better place to work than your competitors. Include a mix of fun work activities, testimonials from happy employees and interesting projects. Making a video of your employees talking about why they love working at the company or on the team is a nice visual way to demonstrate how much people enjoy the work environment. People want to do really interesting work with smart, awesome coworkers in an environment where they can have fun while they do it.
  5. A few “don’ts.”
    • Don’t ask for access to password-protected sites or other private online social networks that the candidate might participation in. Stick to public content only.
    • Don’t discount a candidate for a small lapse in judgment. We all have something embarrassing posted about us online, and if looks like an anomaly or an outlier, treat it as such and politely ignore it.
    • Be careful not to jump to inaccurate conclusions. When in doubt, ask the candidate if what you found is accurate.
    • Don’t reach out to common connections before checking with the candidate first. The candidate may be quietly searching for a job and you should respect her privacy by not revealing that she’s looking for a new job.

What are your favorite tricks for using online tools while hiring people?

Photo by Al Abut used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

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