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In addition to making it easier to recruit talent, online resources are allowing companies to more effectively screen potential employees. But these new technologies are not without their downside. It's important for hiring managers to know which tools are worth embracing and which are better avoided. Following are two online resources businesses should carefully evaluate before adopting:
A useful way to gain information about prospective employees is to type their name into a search engine to see what links appear. You may be surprised at the quantity and type of information available through a simple search.
Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.com and social venues like Facebook.com and MySpace.com also provide expanded opportunities for employers to learn more about prospective hires. Viewing online profiles can give you a better sense of an individuals personality, interests and professionalism. At the same time, you may notice red flags such as use of offensive language, bad-mouthing of former employers and inconsistencies with information shared during the screening process.
Online networking sites also give you access to a broader range of references. Rather than simply relying on a list of contacts provided by an applicant, you can reach out to people on an individuals friends list for additional viewpoints or search for former colleagues and managers independently.
Keep in mind, though, that there are drawbacks to online research. Some applicants may have little information available on the Internet, for example. Additionally, you can't always be certain that you've uncovered details about the individual you're considering. For instance, someone might share the same name as another person who once worked for a company or belonged to a professional group. Add as many defining parameters as possible to your search to narrow the focus to the right person. And even then, if you are interested in certain candidates but find a few negative signs about them online, don't jump to conclusions until you have addressed your research personally with them.
The world of video resumes
In e-mails to companies, some job candidates submit links to online video resumes they have prepared in an effort to stand out from other job seekers. On the surface, accepting video resumes may seem like a good idea. Every hiring manager wants to get a sense of what a candidate is like and being able to watch a short clip of an applicant can give insights into communication skills and personality, among other factors. However, video resumes present some legal considerations for employers, so it's critical not to rush too quickly to embrace this technology.
In a survey by Robert Half International, just one in four (24 percent) senior executives interviewed said their companies accept and choose to view video resumes from applicants. Here are some key reasons firms hesitate to consider anything besides traditional resumes:
1. Worries about discrimination claims. Video resumes can reveal information about an individual's race, age, gender, religion and disability that could lead to lawsuits if the person isn't considered. Also, state laws that bar employers from asking for photos from candidates could potentially be interpreted to include video resumes.
2. Concerns about equal technology access. Not everyone can afford to produce a video resume, putting some applicants at a disadvantage. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cautions that video resumes could lead to a disproportionate exclusion of applicants of color who may not have access to broadband-equipped computers or video cameras.
3. The length of time to review video resumes. From a practical standpoint, it can be challenging for busy managers to find time to review video resumes. Instead of evaluating a traditional resume in a couple of minutes, it may take five to 10 minutes -- perhaps longer -- to watch a video someone has submitted.
4. Not everyone shines on camera. Video presentation can be a deciding factor if you are assessing TV news anchors, but is not as useful when considering accounting or finance professionals. Unlike interviews, which give you an opportunity to interact with the candidate, video resumes are one-sided. Candidates who are not expert in this format may give a poor performance, causing you to overlook an excellent potential employee.
If your company decides not to accept video resumes for reasons such as these, set up a formal policy clarifying your stance and make it known to applicants. Candidates who send video resumes should be advised that you do not consider submissions in this format. Also provide information detailing your firm's application rules.
Online resources can help you screen accounting and finance applicants, but not all are equally helpful. By focusing your research efforts in the right areas, you can help ensure that stellar senior accountant really is as stellar as you believe.
For more advice on management and career issues, listen to Robert Half's podcast series, The Management Minute, at www.rhi.com/podcasts.
Founded in 1948, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, a division of Robert Half International Inc., the world's largest specialized financial recruiting service and a leading authority on workplace and management trends. The company has more than 350 offices throughout North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. Learn more at www.roberthalf.com.
Copyright 2008 Robert Half International. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.
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