FORGET traditional employee perks such as paid leave, health benefits or retirement savings plans, these days, job seekers are honing in on a single, elusive quality before accepting a job: corporate culture.

Whether that includes a mission to reduce a company’s carbon footprint, a casual dress code or offering free food, the environment in which workers will spend their days is becoming as important as salary in hiring decisions.

Right on cue, social media is becoming one of the best ways for recruiters to give the outside world an inside look at their company’s culture. On top sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, employers are using videos, articles and employee postings as a less sterile and more intimate way to connect with candidates.

“When companies communicate strong corporate values, it allows candidates to self-select,” said Jeff Weiner, the chief executive of LinkedIn. “Companies that communicate a great culture develop competitive advantages.” “You’re no longer who you say you are, you’re who everyone says you are,” said Jack Macleod, the general manager of MXM Social, a digital marketing agency.

He added that candidates deciding whether to accept a position often learn much more about a company’s culture through friends or social media than from a conventional interview.

It is essential, said Macleod, to encourage business leaders to put a face to the company brand and communicate directly to the public. Such transparency isn’t an easy fit for all corporate cultures, but done well, it can deliver rewards.

By mining millions of posts, social media analytics can also offer a glimpse into overall trends in workplace hiring. At the University of Michigan, the recently created Social Media Job Loss Index tracks Twitter chatter related to employment, looking at keywords such as “axed”, “canned”, “outsourced” and “downsized” to extrapolate fluctuations in the job market.

The study mirrors what Weiner at LinkedIn has established as an ambitious goal: to capture virtually every worker, company and organisation worldwide in its Economic Graph, a hub for deep insights into the world’s workforce.

Analysing data shared through the LinkedIn platform will allow economists to monitor and predict shifts in employment. The wealth of information will allow LinkedIn to develop solutions that match candidates with jobs and vice versa, contributing to a decrease in global unemployment.

For example, high-level analysis of positions being posted on the site can help identify geographic hot spots and types of jobs that are growing the fastest, as well as the skills that are most in demand. “You now have the opportunity to look for a company with a team whose values are similar to your own,” said Weiner. “It’s not just about our members finding the right jobs, it’s also about leveraging technology to enable the right jobs to find our members. The goal is to connect talent with opportunity.”

He said the data sourced through its economic graph could also allow employers to hone in on disadvantaged groups, such as underemployed youth. To boost hiring in key groups, the platform offers a venue for companies to perform searches for targeted talent groups, such as veterans looking to re-enter the workforce.

Still, there’s good news for job seekers anxious about the occasional overshare on their public social profiles. Recruiters are irked more by profanity or punctuation errors on social media than by references to alcohol use. Don’t worry about that celebratory post from the bar last night, as long as your excitement was properly punctuated.

This article first appeared in The New York Times.

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