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By STEVE CAMERON

Staff Writer

Sure, it was a great party, and there were even some laughs when the police showed up to haul off a few revelers.

You’re still telling stories about that crazy night, aren’t you?

Well, here’s a tip: If you’re hoping to land a job anytime soon, you’d best keep all that hilarity off Facebook, and forget making any off-color references on Twitter.

Potential employers are watching and reading. They’ve now become pretty savvy about social media, folks.

In fact, a national survey conducted by Harris Poll for the workplace web site CareerBuilder suggests that roughly 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates — up from 60 percent just a year ago and a rise from 11 percent in 2006.

The survey also notes that the issue works in both directions: While 54 percent of the 2,300 hiring managers questioned said they have decided not to hire a candidate based on a social media profile, 57 percent claimed they were less likely to hire someone who could not be found online.

“This shows the importance of cultivating a positive online persona,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

“Job seekers should make their professional profiles visible online, and ensure any information that could negatively impact their job searches is made private or removed.”

Local employers seemed to agree wholeheartedly with the survey results, and indicated that social media now plays a role in hiring — both at the start and the finish of the process.

“Social media is not only a regular thing, but it has been for about three years,” said Dan Klocko, vice president of human resources for Kootenai Health. “We count on it extensively for recruitment initially, and then as a screening tool as things continue.”

Jessica Bauman, owner of Express Employment Professionals in Coeur d’Alene, said the workforce giant – 800 company clients and 22,000 people impacted since 2008 – uses common social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others to advertise jobs, and then to vet applicants as thoroughly as possible.

But Bauman threw a note of caution into the equation.

“When you post ads on sites like Facebook,” she said, “you sometimes can run into problems on the back end. The thing about casting a wide net like that is that someone has to constantly monitor the responses.

“There are federal laws, equal opportunity statutes and so forth, that require you to keep records of solicited applications for a year – so you have to make sure you have someone on top of that all the time.

“It’s a great tool, but it doesn’t work all by itself.”

Kootenai Health, with approximately 3,000 employees, actually has a staff member specializing pretty much full time in handling these newer tech issues.

“We have four recruiters, but Kelly Wolfinger is our resident expert for social media,” Klocko said.

Debbie Kerns, who coordinates things with Klocko as the organization’s human resources director, offered up a fact that might seem a bit surprising.

When asked if Kootenai Health uses Facebook or Twitter to hire mostly clerical or administrative staff, Kerns gave a brief chuckle.

“Actually, it’s just the opposite,” she said. “Most of the ads we post are for licensed medical professionals. It’s just the place they tend to look, rather than in nursing journals or other publications.”

Melissa Tosi, human resources director for the City of Coeur d’Alene, has just one assistant to help her keep a watchful eye on job applications that arrive in response to social media appeals.

Sam Taylor, the deputy city administrator, decides on wording and places the ads — but Tosi’s department must deal with the results.

“Sometimes it’s fairly easy and sometimes it really takes a whole lot of our time,” she said. “It depends on the position.

“As a municipality with 350 benefitted employees, we may be wanting to fill a very unique type of job and we could see 20 applications. But for an admin position, it might be 300.

“And as for screening candidates, well, we’re looking for people every day of every week, so we’re always trying to be as thorough as possible — and checking out someone through social media can be one more part of the process.

“At the end of the day, we’re all looking for the right person, so you do whatever you can.”

Bauman added an anecdote that convinced her that the staff of eight at Express Employment Professionals needed to be right up to date with social media.

It also summed up what the CareerBuilder survey suggested.

“We had a client who interviewed very well and received a provisional offer from a company,” Bauman said. “But after some further checking, they found some things on social media — crude hand gestures and some other questionable behavior that caused a negative reaction — and they rescinded the offer.

“That was the moment we knew we’d better be on top of these things ourselves, because social media has changed the entire business of employment.”

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