Most social networks are built with many components of communities. Facebook has many different types of pages and groups that members can congregate around to comment on threads, photos, and events. On Twitter, users can reply to other users, or join an trending topic with a #hashtag to include themselves in a community-generated conversation. Other networks, like Google+ and LinkedIn, also offer features for users to center themselves around a particular topic, brand, or company to have a voice in discussions occurring in these groups or around certain users.
Often, these social network users who speak up the most — and loudest — are experts in their own niche. As such, they may make for a great candidate for an opening at your current company, or would be a great addition for a new role you may design just for that user. You can use social networks to vet candidates through these communities by looking for communities centered around the niche you are looking to hire for, and then identifying the expert contributors to these communities.
After you may initially identify a particularly strong candidate, you can then search for their profile on the related social network, as well as others to which these candidates belong. By looking at the public social profiles of potential job candidates, you can make sure they would be a good fit for the culture and morale of your company. Having a few pictures of the candidate doing a kegstand may be indicative of poor judgment for some firms, but for others it may indicate a personality type that would mesh well with current employees. Be careful to not make judgments on things such as age, race, and gender, though, as the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prohibits making employment decisions based on such categories.
If you believe a potential job candidate vetted through their communities may be a good fit, send a private message introducing yourself and the potential opportunity. You don’t want to guarantee the job, but potentially offer a chance to discuss the opportunity over coffee — or just send them information on how to apply.