socialLet’s talk about social measurement for a moment. Now that social recruitment has taken hold in at least 92% of companies surveyed, it’s only a matter of time before social measurement starts becoming a metric that factors into hiring. In fact, some job adverts are asking applicants for their klout score, in an effort to pinpoint where niche social influence lies.

“We look at this as similar to an SAT,” says Klout spokeswoman Lynn Fox. “It is one of many factors that is considered when a person applies to a university. Likewise, the Klout Score can be used as one of many indicators of someone’s skill set.”

The thinking behind this sort of measurement is that in sales, marketing and service (positions that typically influence people) digital influence is inherently valuable. If you are looking for a director of online marketing, a high klout score in specific niches might make sense. But does this scenario actually play out? For example, does the very popular Director of Social Media for Ford, Scott Monty, really have an impact on how the digital sphere views Ford? Does his influence within marketing and social circles impact sales of Ford cars?

Many people believe the answer is yes. And if recruiting is similar to marketing and sales (which it is in many ways) then shouldn’t recruiters and talent acquisition professionals focus on improving their Klout score?

I think the answer is no. While creating content is valuable for recruitment professionals and building digital relationships needs to be a part of any sourcing strategy, worrying about a specific score can actually take away from significant and important recruiting work. It’s a metric purely tied to ego and not relevant for anything other than the most visible of jobs (spokeperson, marketing, public relations, etc). But in a “close race” between candidates, some recruiting pros and hiring managers are using Klout (and to a lesser degree Kred and PeerIndex) to make the decision easier:

  • A very talented friend told me he was rejected for a job at a major ad agency because his Klout score was too low.
  • A B2B marketing agency Managing Director told me he chose between two qualified candidates based on their Klout score.
  • A friend in D.C is creating a Klout 50 Club exclusive to people with high Klout scores. Why? He wants to find good hires for social media marketing.
  • A woman told me her boyfriend was accepted to a prestigious conference based on his Klout score alone.

But if the algorithm that Klout uses to measure influence only takes visibility into account and not quality, how can you determine who the best candidate might be? Someone who never creates their own content but retweets and replies all day long may have a higher score than someone who devotes time to writing, research or consciously chooses to reach a smaller, more targeted pool of applicants. Depending on the job that you are hiring for, a Klout score might actually mean a less qualified applicant.

The reason that Klout, Kred and PeerIndex don’t make for good recruiting tools is because they are inherently flawed. Andrew Fairley explained why aptly in his post Should Recruiters Use Klout? Influence isn’t linear and Klout assumes it is, Influence is subjective by nature, and finally, our entire lives aren’t spent online and Klout and its peers assume that it is. In other words:

“influence as a concept is about as nebulous as a sparrow’s fart”

in Social Recruiting]