You may go to your next job interview with perfect qualifications and plenty of experience only to discover that your Klout score is too low for the position. In case you haven’t heard of it, Klout is a site that makes an attempt to measure online influence, particularly in the social media landscape. Now, there is a growing debate over whether or not recruitment consultants should use this social tool as part of their recruiting efforts. Recruitment consultants are always looking at various methods for measuring the worthiness of a particular candidate for a job. Should Klout scores be among them?

Sparking a Debate

The debate was sparked when the CEO of Klout posted a job requiring a Klout score of 35 or better. Should social influence really matter when it comes to recruitment? If you’re hiring someone to take care of your lawn, it really doesn’t matter what they do in regards to social media. Does it? Maybe not. However, a valid argument can be made that it does matter for certain positions.

How It works

Klout is one of a handful of companies attempting to sort through social media data to measure your social “influence” via online most leading social, blogging and mobile platforms. Klout accomplishes this goal when users register their various social media accounts. An algorithm is then generated to produce a score ranging from 1 to 100. The higher the score, the more “social influence” you have.

‘Influence’ Is Subjective

While social ranking may seem like another tool that a recruitment consultant can use to gain insight into a candidate’s qualifications, it may not be such a precise indicator after all. A few assumptions are made to accumulate a score; starting with the use of a linear scale where a certain score is automatically deemed to be good or bad. In other words, a score of 40 is preferable over a 20. If Klout admitted that influence is highly subjective, their rankings would be useless.

Online Behavior Doesn’t Match Real World Behavior

Klout makes the assumption that influence can be measured accurately online. It doesn’t matter if I only use my Twitter account to post really bad jokes or if I have multiple Facebook accounts for different purposes. Services attempting to measure online influence make the assumption that the way someone behaves socially online is a reflection of how they act in real world situations. A candidate for a management position may have excellent people skills that aren’t reflected by what they do online and it is this subjectivity of “measuring” influence that makes a strong case against using such metrics for recruitment purposes.

No Set Standards

A recruiter looking at a social ranking score may weigh that information completely differently than another recruiter. Justin Bieber, for instance, has a high Klout rating obviously based on sheer popularity. This doesn’t mean that I want him as my new head of international operations. I may post a funny joke on Twitter that gets re-tweeted thousands of times, which would give me a high score. My ability to recount bad jokes may come in handy at the office Christmas party, but how relevant is it when I’m applying for a software engineer position?

‘Mysterious’ Algorithms

Services like Klout haven’t exactly been upfront about how they calculate their results. It’s been reported that the service uses so-called “Twitterbots” to determine how many followers you have and other factors that go into calculating your score. If someone has a huge amount of Twitter followers, but only a marginal group of Facebook fans, do they still earn a high score? There are already reports that some crafty individuals have already figured out ways to “game” the system and inflate their social influence scores. Apparently, another assumption made is that all people are completely honest online. Dangerous territory for using Klout as a candidate assessment tool.

Social Recruiting Pros and Cons

While so-called social recruiting may offer a hint about somebody’s influence online, what do you do when a candidate absolutely disagrees with their score? What do recruitment consultants do when they have two candidates with equally exceptional qualifications – except that one has a higher Klout score? Does this mean that the candidate with the higher social score automatically gets the job? You could conceivably have one recruiter weighing online influence with far more importance that another recruiter would when interviewing the same candidate.

While factors such as education and experience are fairly static, other factors such as social influence will always be highly subjective. If you have an entire staff chosen strictly based on their online popularity, you may end up with an office full of employees lacking real world experience. Social ranking services such as Klout are just too new to be used as a relevant metric when considering someone for a position. Trying to conveniently categorise individuals for employment purposes based on their online behaviour isn’t going to change one major factor: human behaviour will always be unpredictable.

What’s your view? Should Klout be rejected in the candidate assessment process? Let us know your thoughts below.

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