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2019 workplace trends: re-evaluating social media scoring of applicants

If you want a job in certain industries these days, then it's a good idea to have a lot of followers on social media. But after what we've seen in the last year, maybe it's time to admit this thinking could be wrong.

Many employers love to see a job candidate with a great social media footprint. From followers to comments, the candidate is active on social media. Entire industries have sprung up around online "reputation" management and social media branding to help job candidates perfect their online presence.

But there's a problem. The last year has revealed real cracks in the social media facade. As social media sites sweep their sites of bots and other problems, it begs the question we need to start asking: Are social media metrics a poor way of scoring job candidates as potential hires?

How Much Do Followers Really Matter, Anyway?
Outside of specific industries that require high levels of contact with the general public -- sales and marketing quickly come to mind -- social media is a flawed way of assigning basic value to job candidates. Writer Ari Herstand sums it up perfectly in a recent article for

Social numbers mean nothing if there are not real humans behind those numbers. Followers mean nothing if there is no engagement. We live in a post follower reality. It's pretty damn easy to decipher if you faked your numbers or not (well, the Euro clubs clearly didn’t dig very deeply). And when people see that you inflated your numbers with bot followers, you immediately give off a desperate, sour tinge to anyone who takes a mild look.

We need to stop and think about where we're going with social media, or, at the very least, where it is taking us. If we are not careful, we could end up living in that Black Mirror episode called "Nosedive", where everything in our life -- from our employ-ability to our airline reservation -- depends on our up-to-the-minute social media rating and number of comments and followers. Don't dip below a 2.5, or it's the unemployment line for you!

The episode was based partly on China's emerging "social credit system" that will rank/reward its citizens according to their ever-changing social media score. China hopes to implement its scoring system by 2020.

Experience Is Forever
Good employers risk losing out on great hires if they become more concerned about a job candidate's number of social media followers instead of tangible, concrete things such as education and job experience. Followers come and go, but experience is forever.

2019 should force a social media reckoning, or at least force us to ask some hard questions about it. Smart employers will stop to re-evaluate their use of social media scoring and metrics in hiring. How much do followers really matter? What is fake, and what is real? The time is coming. In fact, it can't get here soon enough.


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