Employers Using Social-Networking Sites to Research Job Candidates

September 15, 2008

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One in five hiring managers (22%) say they use social-networking sites to research job candidates, up from 11% in 2006 – and an additional 9% say they plan to start doing so – according to a CareerBuilder.com nationwide survey of some 3,100 employers.

Of those hiring managers who have screened job candidates via social-networking profiles, one-third (34%) report that they found content that caused them to dismiss the candidate from consideration.

Top areas for concern among those hiring managers included the following:

  • 41% – candidate posted information about their drinking or using drugs
  • 40% – candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information
  • 29% – candidate had poor communication skills
  • 28% – candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee
  • 27% – candidate lied about qualifications
  • 22% – candidate used discriminatory remarks related to race, gender, religion, etc.
  • 22% – candidate’s screen name was unprofessional
  • 21% – candidate was linked to criminal behavior
  • 19% – candidate shared confidential information from previous employers

On the other hand, social-networking profiles gave some job seekers an edge over the competition: 24% of hiring managers who researched job candidates via social-networking sites say they found content that helped to solidify their decision to hire the candidate.

Top factors that influenced those hiring decisions included the following:

  • 48% – candidate’s background supported qualifications for the job
  • 43% – candidate had great communication skills
  • 40% – candidate was a good fit for the company’s culture
  • 36% – candidate’s site conveyed a professional image
  • 31% – candidate had great references posted about them by others
  • 30% – candidate showed a wide range of interests
  • 29% – candidate received awards and accolades
  • 24% – candidate’s profile was creative

“Hiring managers are using the internet to get a more well-rounded view of job candidates in terms of their skills, accomplishments and overall fit within the company,” said Rosemary Haefner, VP of human resources at CareerBuilder.com. “As a result, more job seekers are taking action to make their social networking profiles employer-friendly.”

About 16% of workers who have social-networking profiles say they have modified their content in an effort to convey a more professional image to potential employers, she said.

About the study: The survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder.com among 3,169 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time, not self-employed, with at least significant involvement in hiring decisions) and 8,785 employees (employed full-time, not self-employed) age 18 and over between May 22 and June 13, 2008.

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