Do you have Klout? Do you need to?

An established executive I know remarked recently that he’d just received his first résumé with a Klout score. This got me thinking about whether this is the future of talent assessment: a full lifetime of experiences condensed into a made-up number.

I’m being a bit dramatic, but my immediate reaction was negative; I am a relationship-based person, and that’s how I conduct business. I place people in roles where I think they will be successful on both a personal and a professional level. That simply can’t be determined by looking at a number. (I feel the same way about cultural-assessment testing, by the way.)

However, as I took a closer look, I realized that while the Klout number specifically doesn’t mean much for individuals (I’ll explain why in a minute), the concept behind it is meaningful. For purposes of this post, I’m only talking about Klout in relation to personal influence, not brand influence, which is an entirely different topic.

Klout calls itself “The Standard For Influence.” It claims to measure your influence by analyzing your social media activity, your network, and who engages or acts upon your content. Makes sense on the surface, but what I’ve found during my research and my own informal, non-scientific survey is that Klout’s measurements are random and their labels (Influencer, Specialist) are not meaningful because there are no consistent definitions for these terms.

As a matter of fact, I just received a message that I am a Klout “Addict” because I visited the site three times in the last week. Really? One person I spoke to said Klout deemed her an “Influencer” after she posted a single time about a topic. Another said Klout considers her widely influential even though she only ever posts on Facebook and only on personal matters. The executive I mentioned earlier actually considered the fact that the person included their Klout score on their résumé as a negative, since it isn’t a meaningful term just yet. Many of the reviews I’ve read indicate that the Klout rating system can be gamed, their algorithm is not transparent, and their criteria are too random at this stage to provide a true measurement. It is a work in progress and is striving to become the FICO score of social media influence, but we aren’t there yet.

What I found even more interesting in my research was how many professionals don’t even know what a Klout score is. My nonscientific survey included HR, recruiting, and various executives in the media, entertainment, and technology spaces. Of course, most executives knew about Klout, but of the HR and recruiting folks, more than half didn’t know about it and those who did, line executives and HR folks alike, said it was meaningless to them as a selection mechanism at this time.

Should you ignore your score? My answer sits somewhere between yes and no. I wouldn’t pay specific attention to your Klout rating at this time, but I would keep an eye on the company, because it is one of the more visible players in the field of folks trying to measure the impact of social. And social is only going to keep growing.

However, you absolutely should be paying attention to your social presence, and that is Klout’s underlying message. As the social web evolves, there will be ever more opportunities to present your personal brand and engage your audience. What’s more, organizations are regularly turning to your activity on the web to assess what you have to say, who you are engaging with, and your industry presence. Are you on top of your game, do you understand your field, are you trending with the influence-makers, and do you have something interesting to say? This is a very tangible approach to talent assessment, and one I champion. We are beyond the days of cautioning against posting those party pictures from last year’s Vegas trip (I think). This is really about monitoring your activity, making sure your posts are intelligent, meaningful, and put you in good light to future employers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Send me an email at