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Social media recruiting toolbox: Monitor your public image

My son befriended an exchange student at his school who has since returned to Korea. The boy gave him his email to stay in touch, but my son thought it would be easier to maintain contact through Facebook.

He is 13, and my wife and I kept him from the social networking sites until he was mature enough to handle it. We decided that this would be the opportunity to get him started in the right direction, so we set him up and let him go at it.

Not surprisingly, he was like a fish in water. As concerned parents, we monitor his account and make sure that there is no bullying or other inappropriate behavior occurring.

His friends run the gamut, from people who only post occasionally to those who feel compelled to update their status with every thought that comes into their head. They use the application like their life is a silent movie and their Facebook statuses are the black and white placards that come up to explain the action.

Overall, it is amazing how much and how often they communicate.

Obviously, it' s not just Facebook that has emphasized the attachment the younger generations have to social networking. On Aug. 29, the MTV Video Music Awards generated more than 10 million tweets, peaking at a record high of 8,868 tweets per second in the moments following Beyonce's pregnancy announcement.

This beat the previous record of 7,196 tweets per second, achieved when Japan beat the U.S. for the Women's World Cup.

Locally, during Hurricane Irene, news stations were using their Facebook pages to share images of the damage caused by the storm. Watching this, I thought it rather brave (or maybe foolhardy) of the station to do this, since the posts had the potential to elicit unsavory comments.

All of this got me thinking about how crucial it is to leverage a variety of sources to collect candidates for our positions. In light of younger job seekers' heavy usage of these tools, it becomes even more essential for organizations to properly leverage social networking sites.

These sites afford recruiters the opportunity to contact passive job seekers and put forth a positive image of the company to future candidates.

The importance of a positive image also struck me while monitoring my son's Facebook account. As we closely watched his site, I wondered how frequently companies do the same for their own image.

Social networking can be a powerful tool to spread the message about your company. It can also be a tremendous resource to learn how the company is perceived.

There are scores of social media monitoring tools that will allow you to see how your organization is being talked about in the marketplace and in the community of potential candidates. Listening to what is being said can give you the opportunity to improve the perception of your organization. At the very least, it can prepare you for the types of concerns your candidates might have.

So as my son continues to use these social networking tools, I can help him be cautious in how he behaves online. The image he projects should align with how he wants people to see him and how he acts in his real life. Companies should be conscious of the same.

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