Can Your Facebook Score Really Predict Success?

We all make quick judgements based off impressions from people’s online personae, particularly with those who we don’t know or are only somewhat familiar. Your digital life can be used as a quick reference to create a rough outline of personality, habits, values, and overall like-ability.

Now researchers at three universities have created a “Facebook Score” that attempts to formulate your Facebook status updates, captions, comments, photos, and friends into a predictor of job performance.

The “Big Five” personality traits that researchers have highlighted in their study are:

  • Conscientiousness – Are they organized and hard working?
  • Emotional Stability – Do they avoid negative posts, particularly ones about being stressed out and pessimistic?
  • Agreeableness – Do they get in constant debates?
  • Extraversion – Do they have plenty of Facebook friends, or do their pictures show many social situations?
  • Openness to Experience – Are they “cultured,” and do they travel, read high-brow literature, and have many different life experiences?

But how accurate of a personal picture does this data paint?

For HR departments or university admissions employees looking at an enormous pile of applications, the option of removing a portion of them based on a Facebook Score could be intriguing. As hiring processes become more competitive and technologically advanced, Facebook Score screening could very well become a commonplace part of some hiring processes.

While a Facebook Score, or Klout or any other formulated metric of online personality and influence indexes, will never be a serious threat to qualified candidate assessment and recruitment, it does provide more evidence that recruiters and HR departments are looking for quick and easy ways to separate the wheat from the chaff. Social media is continuing to evolve as one of the first stops primarily due to its easy accessibility and quick referencing.

One danger of these online metrics, as written by Bob Sullivan for MSNBC, is the lack of transparency in the formula. And therein lies the inherent problem of using these “scores” as a hiring tool. If a company doesn’t show its formula for scoring, then it lacks authority and can be dismissed as being unscientific. However, if companies do show the backend formula, then it becomes easy to game the system and raise rankings, thus delegitimizing results.

Keeping your social media house in order and free from information that creates a poor impression of you is important; however, trying to extract complex competencies, personalities, motivations, and values from them is something better left to the professionals.