I manage a team of nine people. I am filling a job opening right now. I've interviewed six candidates for the job.
I realize that we live in changing times. I realize that standards for professional behavior are constantly evolving. However, and even though I consider myself an open-minded manager, I just ran into a situation that blew my mind (and not in a good way).
I am having a hard time deciding which candidate to hire. Two of the six people I interviewed seem like terrific people but they don't have enough experience. The other four are all outstanding candidates, as far as I can see. I conferred with my department-mates (all of whom met at least some of the candidates) and we couldn't identify one standout candidate.
So, I went on LinkedIn to review the four profiles of the top candidates. I had glanced at them before but I hadn't read them all the way through. Let's just say my LinkedIn research project was an eye-opener!
The first candidate's profile was very well-written and complete. The second candidate's profile was not nearly as complete but the second candidate had written a series of excellent, well-reasoned and thought-provoking blog posts on LinkedIn. For this job, that's important.
The third candidate's profile was average — there was nothing wrong with it but it didn't show any particular spark or creativity, either. (It's a creative job.)
The fourth candidate's profile is the one that blew my mind. The fourth candidate "Reggie" got very real and very personal in his LinkedIn profile summary. Here are a few excerpts from it:
I want to work for a company that is ethical, unlike Acme Systems which was run by semi-criminals and now is being sued by its investors.
At Acme Systems I learned that just because someone has an Ivy League MBA doesn't mean they are smart.
Now I am in search of my next opportunity, after escaping from a toxic work environment run by scammers and thieves.
I can certainly appreciate that Reggie might have felt burned or misused by Acme Systems, but that's too much disclosure for me! I can't hire Reggie now. He made our selection decision easier, although we still have three candidates to pick from. What do you think about Reggie's use of his LinkedIn profile to vent about his last employer?
Thanks Liz -
Poor Reggie is barking up the wrong tree. He doesn't realize that his LinkedIn profile makes him look like a victim — not someone who found himself in an unfortunate work situation and prevailed over it!
I'm with you. Reggie is way out of line using his LinkedIn profile to bash his old boss at Acme Systems. His old boss probably couldn't care less about Reggie's complaints. Reggie needs to remember the old adage "Living well is the best revenge!"
Glassdoor is a better place to vent about previous employers than LinkedIn is!
Reggie definitely used LinkedIn the wrong way, and it cost him a shot at your job opening. Here are ten things that should never, ever appear in a LinkedIn profile:
1. Criticism of any person, organization, entity or group.
2. Inappropriate, racy or risque photos, images or videos. (Keep these out of your LinkedIn blog posts, too!)
3. Political or religious rants.
4. Product or service reviews a la "At Acme Systems I worked on the X-15 product, a higher-quality entrant to the marketplace formerly dominated by the bug-infested AX-97 unit from Nautilus Enterprises."
5. A LinkedIn profile photo in an unprofessional setting or showing you looking less than mature and businesslike. Your photo doesn't have to show you wearing business attire or in a business setting, but as viewers we have to be able to imagine you at work. Some LinkedIn profile photos send the signal "You'd have to be a very risk-tolerant person to hire this individual!"
6. Spelling, usage and grammatical errors (all of which are rampant on LinkedIn). To avoid problems, compose your LinkedIn profile in your word processor so you'll be alerted to English errors before you move the content over to LinkedIn.
7. Proprietary information (for instance, sales or profitability data from a previous employer that doesn't normally share that information; spreadsheets, plans or other confidential information uploaded in document form to your profile; or company images, unless you have permission to use them).
8. Less-than-professional images like photos from post-conference company outings in Las Vegas -- photos that show you and your workmates getting sloshed. It is nice to show the LinkedIn community that you are not a stiff and boring business person -- but it's easy to go too far in that direction!
9. Remember that your LinkedIn profile also includes your comments on other LinkedIn users' blog posts and status updates. Comments on LinkedIn range from thoughtful and insightful to crass and even obscene. Don't forget that your comments show up for visitors to your LinkedIn profile page!
10. Lastly, never disclose private details about yourself or anyone else on your LinkedIn profile.
You made the right call knocking dear Reggie off your list of finalists for the job. We can all sympathize with Reggie for feeling misused, but he picked exactly the wrong way to air his grievances.
Now that you're down to three finalists, why not send them each a quick thank you note with a very small assignment in it, like this:
Thanks again for coming to see me and our team last Friday! I thought it was a terrific meeting. I'd love to get your impressions, too. Can you please reply to this message with your quick (no more than 300-word) thoughts on these three questions?
1. You've spent several hours with us now. What are your biggest takeaways from those conversations?
2. What do you see as the most critical items for our new Marketing Coordinator to tackle in 2018?
3. How will you approach the job, if you are offered the position and accept it? What will your priorities be, and what obstacles do you expect to encounter?
I predict that your three finalists' responses to these questions will make your hiring decision much easier.
It is astounding to see what people hear in an interview and what they miss.
The right candidate will nail the assignment. Their dead-on responses will give you confidence you've found your new hire.
Good luck to you and your team in 2018!
Source: Written by Liz Ryan on Forbes