Social Media for Employers – A Basic Guide for Human Resources

Digging Deeper

In this economy, where EVERYONE seems to be looking for a job (or at least a better one), how do you know you’re getting “da schnizzle,” the top dog, the worker bees, the leaders and ultimately the FIT you seek for your organization or project?

Sure, resumes and references are useful and vital tools for opening conversations with potential candidates.

But where else can you look?


Today’s blog stems from a not-so-recent conversation with a first date that was nothing more. As a C-level executive who experiences high employee turnover in a sales-related organization, his insight prompted some thought on my part. While I’m constantly asked about social media by several clients (answered in a previous blog here), it got me thinking that there’s a super-secret squirrel way for it to benefit the human resources professional looking for the real scoop on a job candidate.

It’s possible I’m going to get multiple death threats from the teens and tweens or those just out of college and on the 5-workday/7-party day schedule. All I’m sayin’ is that in this technology-driven era where it’s no longer a “good skill set” to know MS Office, you can bet your sweet ass that if you post it on the internet, someone’s going to find it.

For example: I used to be an actor. Actors do stupid things when they’re looking for credits. I took a role in a movie called “Naked Twister.” Guess how much explaining I have to do on THAT one to let folks know it ain’t porn.

However, if you type in “Erika Napoletano” into your Google search bar, the first three results are my LinkedIn, FriendFeed and StumbleUpon accounts. Now THIS is what should be interesting to you human resources professionals out there.


Here are some easy steps to follow to research both prospective AND current employees. Remember – nothing is sacred, and these folks are representing your company’s brand in public. Kinda like an issue I had with a female associate at a major Las Vegas law firm that had bikini-clad and cleavage-laden photos populating her MySpace account. Right next to her employing firm’s name. Boooooooooooo…

  1. Google and Dogpile search your prospective and current employees. It’s a good starting point for determining if your next secretary or CEO has a web presence, and if so, what’s out in the internet ether about them.
  2. Do they have a MySpace account? Multiple execs have told me that MySpace is a huge time-suck when it comes to lower-level desk job employees where internet access isn’t restricted at the office.
  3. Create a MySpace account. This will let you review prospective employee profiles and monitor the usage of current employees during the work day, especially if your office policies restrict personal internet use.
  4. Read their social media/social networking pages. What are your job candidates bookmarking? What are they scrawling on “walls?” With whom are they connected? This really goes both ways – you can find out if a candidate/employee is connected with an eclectic blend of quality folk, from friends to movers & shakers, as well as if that applicant for the CEO’s Executive Assistant (who cleaned-up well for her series of 5 interviews) is all over the internet in bikini photos and badmouthing a previous employer.
  5. Ask candidates SPECIFICALLY about their online presence. I have no qualms telling clients & prospective clients where my social media profiles are. Seriously – it’s the internet. If you post it, I will find it. And I’m just a redheaded copywriter and social media enthusiast. Just think if I were a dogged, overworked and narrowly-focused HR executive intent on preserving the integrity of my firm?

I’ll open the floor now to my readership’s thoughts on the subject. My goal this week wasn’t to sell anyone out or make them feel like a social media presence was a bad thing by any means. However, employees and professionals need to know that if you put it out on the internet, it’s going to get found. Think twice about your online personal brand, as it can be used in the evaluation process that will win — or lose — you the next gig of your dreams. There’s no denying everyone has a personal life, but find ways to keep it separate. Next week’s blog is going to address the private side of social media and how to share personal information online in a discrete manner.

Oh, and if I could get a little reader love this week: I’m ahead of Ann Coulter but behind the blogger for One Tree Hill.  If you like my blog, vote for me in the Hot Blogger Contest HERE – Scroll down to find Redhead Writing and help push me over 100 votes!

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I would hope that the employers, if doing their due diligence in the social media research realm, would assure that all i's are dotted and t's crossed. I think from a professional standpoint, we can make it easier for employers as social media-savvy candidates and provide them with cross-reference information (our personal websites, identifying characteristics - show them that we KNOW they're going to look for us) to assure they're finding "us" and not the drunk frat girl on a pool table holding a chihuahua flashing a gang sign.


Here's my question, how will employers know the who they are searching on Google is the actual person? When I Google myself, a link to my LinkedIn profile is on the bottom of the 2nd page. The rest of the links are about 2 other people who spell their name the same as I. I hope that employers take this into consideration and verify that the search results are for the person they are searching, and not someone with the same name.

Owen O'Malley
Owen O'Malley

Great stuff...the more informed we are the better decisions we can make. Google provides tons of tell lots of stories...and the truth will set us free. I suggest telling the truth in all your online social media efforts.

Grant Simmons
Grant Simmons

Most important thing to realize is that almost every Google search for your name will pop one of the social networking sites / profiles to the top (close to it) - *if* you have a profile out there. Because of this it's important to realize you *can* be found and post / edit / update appropriately. Always better to give a potential employee something positive to consider than something negative to ponder. I'm not going to say I've got employment purely on a LinkedIn profile review alone, but as an entrepreneur with my own agency (in a former life) I *did* get two jobs from posting answers to questions on LinkedIn... not a bad ROI for a couple hours work and writing a little bit about myself. BTW I *always* Google a job applicant. Grant Simmons

Paul Beiser
Paul Beiser

Great column, I concur with what you say. And yes, keep personal/private different as much as possible (but I daresay this is hard with micro-blogging). One thing I fail to do is actually to Google people who are applying for jobs, I am still just a 'review resume, phone screen, and interview-in-person' kinda person :-). This has been a good refresher for me.


Erika, I think using social media as a tool and not as means to create for publicizing my identity, and keeping the two separate, is an approach I'm very comfortable with. The other day I got a link in to my blog from someone searching my full name. I thought "should I be worried/freaked out?". Then when I realize that all of my social media accounts, my blog, including my Linked in account, are all things I want people accessing because I want the traffic. But I don't use social media as a way to identify myself to my friends. True we are all branding ourselves and our short little profiles as bloggers. But that is a brand and not a person's identity. I see so many sites and Myspace pages dedicated to "What I Like" "Top Ten Fav. Movies" etc. and thus that media wasted as a tool and a primary way for people to create an online identity. Maybe it's a form of catharsis for them. I guess the point is specifically knowing what you're using social media for and accepting what comes with each endeavor. Great post! ~JB@TheLaunchingPad


  1. […] Over at Redhead writing (full disclosure, she’s my buddy. But, as we say in RI – to steal a phrase from my boss – she’s wicked smahhht) she talks about how to research employees – both current and future. I’d take that one step further. Google yourself. See what comes up. Is that really what you want folks to believe about you? Here are some easy steps to follow to research both prospective AND current employees. Remember – nothing is sacred, and these folks are representing your company’s brand in public. Kinda like an issue I had with a female associate at a major Las Vegas law firm that had bikini-clad and cleavage-laden photos populating her MySpace account. Right next to her employing firm’s name. Boooooooooooo… […]