Data-driven recruitment where computer says ‘no’

Every tweet is doing you damage – possibly. By now, if you’re on social media, you’re at least latently aware that your activity can and will be monitored, searched and evaluated by current and potential employers.

But it’s now much more than a quick flick through your profile pictures for signs on a good-time Charlie. “Big data” is increasingly being used to chance the recruitment process, from discovering candidates who didn’t even know they wanted the job, to vetting applicant based on their Facebook likes.

‘Big data is inevitable”, says Andrea Tjoeng, manager at SCOUT Recruitment Software. Scores of Tidbits about our preferences and behaviour are being collected each time we log on; where we holiday, what we watch on TV, our favourite restaurants. Targeted advertising remains the main purpose, but not for long”

“This is going to impact recruitment at some point in time,” Tjoeng says. “The way things are moving it’s going to be sooner rather than later.”

On ABC radio, an employer named Julie admitted to having excluded a jobseeker because her Facebook profile revealed the applicant was a football fanatic who often dressed up as her cat.  “It was a football club that I personally detest,” Julia said. Employers checking Facebook pictures is nothing new. But the idea that this could be automated – and a red flag raised against your name by a computer program – struck many as alarming. The technology is out there, recruiters say, but is generally frowned upon, An application called Charlie will crawl social media to check the name of your prospective client, employee or partner. “Charlie combs through hundreds of sources and automatically sends you a one-pager on everyone you’re going to meet with, before you see them,” the app boasts.

Tojoeng is well-aware that many people use aliases on social media to protect their privacy – which, if pervasive, could render SCOUTS’s software close to useless. She believes people will become more open and honest over time, once the initial fear around new technology subsides.

“Ignoring it or fearing it would be a waste of time because it’s here and it’s going to be part of our lives,” she says.

The Age, Insight (pg. 29, June 6th 2015), Michael Koziol

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