How do you spend the majority of your time when trying to source candidates? While poring over CVs and conducting initial outreach is no doubt a priority, setting aside some time to review a candidate’s online presence is also essential.

Being able to tap into social media and internet activity can often help you develop a more rounded and realistic view of a potential applicant, as well as whether they’ll be a good cultural fit for your organisation.

However, you must ensure that you’re looking for the correct information when you carry out a spot of internet sleuthing.

Going Beyond Facebook

When searching for your candidate online, it’s all too simple to just plug their first and last name into a search engine or Facebook and start picking out bits and pieces at random.

This can often lead to mistakes and misrepresentations, and even the possibility of judgements being made based on sexual orientation, race, or marital status (all of which would be in breach of current HR and recruitment legislation).

To avoid this, you really need to understand what it is you’re looking for, and more importantly, why.

More Sites = More Insights

One of the most crucial things to realise when reviewing a prospect’s internet activity is that the web is a great big place, with a reach that exceeds far beyond Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant.

While it may be beneficial to cast an eye over Facebook status updates, there are so many other sites that can offer valuable insights into a person’s character and capabilities.

Here are a few you need to know about:

MeetUp is an online platform that makes it simple for people to organise or attend a local group in real life. These groups are typically categorised into different interests and disciplines, meaning from a recruitment perspective you can gauge a potential applicant’s interest in and passion for a particular subject.

Do they routinely speak at or attend groups related to digital media? Are they members of overlapping groups related to entrepreneurship, business, marketing, et cetera?

Based on this information, you can reasonably assume your candidate has a passion for their industry and they’re comfortable getting out and networking with fellow professionals.


Does your candidate live on Twitter? Are they capable of expressing themselves in 140 characters or less? Do they unnecessarily antagonise others and routinely Tweet with their foot firmly in their mouth?

These are the kinds of things you need to be aware of when combing through a prospect’s Twitter profile.

Strong communication skills and online diplomacy will go a long way in today’s modern office environment, and a candidate who can conduct themselves in a professional manner on a platform known for its gaffes and PR disasters will certainly be one you’ll have confidence in.

Pinterest / Instagram

If you’re tasked with sourcing a candidate for a creative role, then you simply must review their Pinterest and Instagram accounts. From being able to curate visual information, to framing and composing their own photographs, these types of platforms can offer you a great deal of insight into the skills and passions of a prospect beyond what’s written in a cover letter or CV.

Stack Overflow (and similar)

When reviewing a candidate for a technical role, digging into the likes of Stack Overflow will provide you with a real appreciation of their abilities and knowledge of a particular subject matter. Do they lead discussions and resolve problems? Do they clearly and concisely exchange information? Can they be considered a thought leader with regards to their skillset? All of this is useful when profiling someone for a technical position.

TripAdvisor (and similar)

You may not have considered reviewing forums and message boards such as TripAdvisor, but these can be a veritable goldmine in gleaning an understanding of your candidate. Are they helpful, patient, and knowledgeable? Can they communicate information effectively? Can they spell and structure sentences correctly? You won’t need to know where they think the best restaurant in Majorca is, but the manner in which they answer that question can tell you a lot about that individual.

There really is so much more to a person’s internet footprint than just Facebook. These sites are the tip of the iceberg, and with a bit of digging you can put a face (and personality) to a CV.

This article was written by Stephen Pritchard from Adzuna, a job search engine that brings millions of ads together in one place.

Find out more

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About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.