People Management poll: nearly half have ‘stalked’ potential colleagues on social media

As a separate survey finds that nearly three quarters of Generation Z use platforms including LinkedIn to check out potential colleagues, experts say the trend is more positive than it might sound

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Almost half (45 per cent) of People Management readers polled on LinkedIn admitted they had ‘stalked’ their future colleagues on social media prior to accepting a job offer.

The remaining 55 per cent of the 866 polled said they had not looked at potential future colleagues’ social media profiles on platforms such as LinkedIn when deciding whether to accept a job.

A separate survey by Resource Solutions of 2,000 working adults revealed a generational divide – 71 per cent of Gen Z employees admitted to stalking potential colleagues on LinkedIn, while fewer than half (48 per cent) of millennials surveyed had done the same, and just a third (33 per cent) of Gen X employees. 

A further 72 per cent of Gen Z workers said they had looked at their employer’s profile before taking a job.

Jemma Rawlins, director at HRLife, said she was surprised the figure was not higher.

She told People Management: “Social media plays such a massive part in people’s lives regardless of generation. It’s not just Gen Z who are prone to a bit of LinkedIn stalking, as we know it’s been going on for years.”

She continued: “It’s quite the norm for our candidates to have done their pre-interview prep and looked up their potential future team members.”

Rawlins said this was particularly true for HR professionals, adding: “People and culture have always been at the top of their job search criteria, so it’s no wonder this is happening.”

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co-founder at 10Eighty, told People Management: “The labour market is tight, the imbalance of labour demand and supply means that well qualified, ambitious candidates in some sectors can afford to be choosy about where they work and how they work.

“Why not check out the company and employers beforehand? It’s easy to do and at the very least will give a candidate some broad general information about the corporate culture and looking at the tenure and role development of potential colleagues can be informative.”

Kristen Buckheit, managing director EMEA at Resource Solutions told People Management: “Our data reveals that despite the scarcity of jobs in the current labour market, Gen Zs continue to prioritise culture fit when assessing whether a company is right for them.”

Buckheit added: “To successfully attract this pool of talent, it is therefore essential companies consider how their business is showcased on social media.

“It's not just about having a positive company culture in place, but connecting with the next generation of talent. 

“Purely focusing on bland corporate messaging won’t cut through. Today, it is authentic and rounded employee experiences shared on social media that will truly appeal to potential new starters.”

The survey also found that 73 per cent of Gen Z and 63 per cent of millennials say the average age of the workforce at a company plays a role in their decision whether or not to take a job.

The survey showed that 35 per cent of Gen Z socialise with their colleagues at least once a week, in contrast to 8 per cent of Generation X and 6 per cent of Boomers.

“The social element of work and the importance of employee engagement are becoming more prevalent particularly as more Gen Z enter the workplace,” Kerry White, associate director at Macmillan Davies, told People Management.

She said: “In our latest HR Insights survey, ‘company culture’ and ‘team culture’ were ranked as the top two most important factors in respondents’ current role.

“It’s natural for candidates to want to know who they’ll be working with and what people’s backgrounds are - there’s an informal interest there.

“Checking LinkedIn should be seen as a positive – it shows candidates are being thorough and committed to knowing who they’ll be working with,” she continued. 

Sebag-Montefiore said: “We call it social media because it’s about connection, sharing and relationships.” 

She added: “Culture and employer brand are important to workers in Gen Z who use social media to research companies and find jobs. It’s not ‘stalking’, but part and parcel of how they work and communicate.”