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Using Facebook to Predict Success on the Job

Saturday, June 2, 2012
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A new study could be a game-changer in the way social media, namely Facebook, might one day be used as a viable predictor of job success.

The academic study appears to be the first-ever venture into compiling statistical data to prove that information on Facebook can yield valuable personality and job-performance information -- not just clues as to whether someone parties too hard or has alarming philosophies or alliances.

Bottom line, "there is now evidence that [social media] could be useful" as a job-performance predictor for recruiters and hiring managers, says Don Kluemper, a professor of management who specializes in human resources at Northern Illinois University's College of Business, who co-authored Social Networking Websites, Personality Ratings and the Organizational Context: More Than Meets the Eye?

"A lot of actions are taken based on Facebook profiles -- people are hired, fired, suspended -- but this is the first study to systematically examine whether using Facebook to help make such decisions has any validity," he says.

For the study, Kluemper and fellow researchers -- Peter A. Rosen, a professor at the University of Evansville's Schroeder Family School of Business Administration, and Kevin W. Mossholder, with the Department of Management at Auburn University -- looked at what assessors call the Big Five (or key) traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, emotional stability and openness.

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They found that determinations based on Facebook-derived information provided a more accurate predictor of future job performance than self-evaluations.

Kluemper says the theory still needs to be tried and tested in the business world, but the research is at least "a first step in that direction."

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