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Hiring tips: Learn from recruiting red flags

Earlier this week I came across an interesting discussion about the potentially negative effect of including your social media activities and profiles on your resume. The conversation was taking place two blogs I frequent, Mack Collier's namesake and Beth Harte's The Harte of Marketing. I follow both Mack and Beth on Twitter and share Beth's passion for the marketing discipline.

Recently, Beth announced on her blog that she was going to be looking for her next career opportunity. Then, a couple of days later, she published a related post sharing the fact that a recruiter had suggested she remove references to her social media mastery from her resume. That, in fact, her social media activities were a "red flag" to potential employers who would question Beth's ability to commit 100 percent to advancing the organization's business objectives.

Beth's original post and Mack's follow-up sparked a great conversation with a lot of folks chiming in. I'd encourage you to take a look at the comments, but the overriding tone is that there is a need to ensure that one's digital footprint is easily translated by a hiring manager or hiring organization as valuable.

Earlier today Mindy chimed in on the discussion, presenting her perspective as a recruiter. But as a hiring manager, I felt compelled to offer my own two cents as well.

What I can offer is that this responsibility of making sure the hiring manager values a candidate's digital footprint rests not with the candidate, but ultimately with the hiring manager and the recruiter. This happens by working hard to meticulously define the requirements of the position that need to be filled -- a task that is far more challenging if the position is of a more senior nature, as is the case with Beth.

In such situations, the definition needs to be focused on the strategic demands of the role and measurable performance that is expected, but also on the plain language description of what this new member of leadership should bring to the table.

Hiring managers absolutely need to spend a good deal of time articulating these requirements to recruiters and also to themselves. Not only is this a good hiring tip to help accelerate the search, but more importantly it results in a much broader candidate pool. The nuanced elements of the requirements will induce consideration of candidates that on paper seem to not be in 100 percent alignment with the skill demands, but who could bring a great deal of value to the organization.

What of the recruiters in such instances? What is their responsibility to the hiring manager? In my opinion, it must absolutely be one of advocacy, positioning them in such a way that allows them to better understand the defined requirements than the hiring manager himself. Recruiters need to understand how the nuanced elements of the job description should be prioritized. They must educate themselves in order to educate their hiring managers.

Beth's situation is a perfect example. Recruiters working with her need to make an effort to align the professional success she has had for employers and for her self-employment to the needs of the employers they are working for. Recruiters must connect and define that value and help hiring mangers consider the impact that it potentially offers. In other words, they must help hiring managers see more than the "red flag" of a potentially distracted marketing leader.

If a recruiter cannot get extremely well-qualified candidates in front of a hiring manager because of some misconception about their ultimate commitment, I would argue that the recruiter is failing the hiring manager.

Lastly it is important to point out that the issue of potential distraction is valid, and it should be weighed during the course of the interview process. It is very fair for a potential employer to gauge the level of commitment that the candidate is going to offer. How does a hiring manager assess this intangible?

The obvious starting point is with frank and inclusive discussions with provided references, complemented by a sincere evaluation of their public persona. Ironically, the very thing that the recruiter in this case claims is limiting Beth's opportunity should be leveraged by hiring managers to gain a much deeper perspective into her approach, work ethic, specialties, and commitment.

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