I’m sure not everyone is guilty of these hiring faux pas in the social media era, but I’ve seen it enough in the past 4 years of interviewing and pitching for social media positions and clients that I know many business owners are hurting their business in the process of recruiting. Whether you are hiring someone to work as your employee, an unpaid intern or you have a professional recruiter finding your new social media community manager or contract agency, the old fashioned rules of social etiquette apply, even more so when you’re hiring social media professionals who know more about digital marketing and socializing technology than you do.

First lets review “The Rules” of social media, though I’m sure you’ve heard them before, many experienced hiring professionals just don’t believe they’re true or that they apply universally:

  • Be transparent
  • Be authentic
  • Make a conversation with you worth their time

The social media professionals you are hiring, know and live by these rules, and you can expect they’re sharing your ignorance if you make it obvious that you don’t. As painful as that might be to hear, it is true and the HR professionals who embrace the new rules of social media are the ones who are able to more consistently find and place the right candidates.

  1. Treating them like they are less valuable than your client. Successfully finding the right fit in a candidate at the right time and having the right offer/environment/culture to keep them happy is an art form and requires a commitment to developing a professional relationship with candidates that could be described as “personal”, “friendly” or “intimate” – not sexual of course, but you’re friendly enough to spend time together socializing, drinking, or volunteering / participating in events online and IRL evenings & weekends.
  2. Drop them and never call again the minute you know they aren’t right for your position right now. This is the ultimate in rude behavior, and for candidates who prize their ability to influence their professional opportunities and their entourage of friends alike, you can’t afford to have them cut you out of the conversation.
  3. Don’t give any clear instructions or feedback on why they weren’t selected to move forward in the process. Especially in community management, where personality fit and pre-existing personal passion for the community/activity/category are often necessary to maintain after being placed, it’s smart to treat candidates like professionals who you respect. If your client wants to hire someone with visible influence within their business category, let the candidate know specifically the education, experience or activities they can take on to be better prepared and more comfortable next time. Since most clients hiring social media don’t have knowledge or experience in working with social professionals, no matter how hard you work to find the right fit initially, you may be hiring again for the same position in three to six months.
  4. Lie about the base salary, or current situation / culture where they’ll be working. Surprisingly, its not uncommon for HR professionals to paint a strained work environment in a nice glow, just to get a candidate into the role. But the truth of the situation always comes out (often it is painfully obvious when we’ve been duped), and if you didn’t let the candidate know about the challenging details ahead of time, you’re likely to be seen as a liar, and your candidate who could be the right fit for many clients in the future a) won’t trust you and b) they may send you “grenades” in the future.
  5. Forget to look (CLOSELY!) at their social profiles. If you need to hire a consultant for a few hours to give you the lowdown on a potential candidate, it will be a worthwhile investment at least in weeding out the over-confident or non-starter candidates. If you don’t want to hire a “right-hand recruiter” on contract, be sure to have your own personal profiles with your full, real name on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. Your own profiles will allow you to “friend” potential candidates before you even have a position, so that recruiting and candidate selection is a MUCH easier process when your client suddenly needs to hire. You’ll also be able to build and maintain an authentic personal & professional relationship with candidates so that those who aren’t the right fit are much more likely to refer their friends to you.

Have I missed any big ones? . If you avoid these five missteps of socializing when recruiting social media professionals, you’ll have a much better pool of professionals happy to help you out when you need a little technical help or referrals to other candidates. If you’re the hiring manager working with the candidate, your relationship with them really is much longer than just this interview/recruiting project, and you’ll want to have as many influencers and communities willing to converse online with the person you choose to hire. . As I said, this happens all too often these days – we’re all struggling to define social roles and keep up with salary expectations and methods of recruiting and retaining talent once found. If you commit yourself to being honest with your client and the candidates about your dedication to finding the right personality and cultural fit, candidates will succeed in staying with your clients longer, building stronger networks and will be more motivated to refer their respected colleagues your way. . Here’s what Ric Dragonhas to say about hiring the right fit in social professionals:

I’ll be speaking at SocialHRCamp in Toronto August 23rd and welcome your feedback! Comment on this post or send me an email at [email protected] if you’d like to chat more about my experiences on the candidate side of the recruiting process.