More than one in five employers search social networking sites to screen job candidates, according to a survey of more than 31,000 employers released recently by CareerBuilder.com.
Of the hiring managers who use social networks, one-third said they found information there that caused them to toss the candidate out of consideration for a job.
The study found that the number of hiring managers that are turning to social networks such as MySpace and Facebook to delve into candidates' online behaviour is increasing quickly — only 11% of managers used the technology in 2006, whereas now, 22% of employers say they already are perusing the social networks, and an additional 9% say that they are planning to use the method to screen candidates.
The top areas of concern found on social networking sites include:
- Information about alcohol or drug use (41% of managers said this was a top concern);
- Inappropriate photos or information posted on a candidate's page (40%);
- Poor communication skills (29%);
- Bad mouthing of former employers or fellow employees (28%);
- Inaccurate qualifications (27%);
- Unprofessional screen names (22%);
- Notes showing links to criminal behaviour (21%); and
- Confidential information about past employers (19%).
The study did find that 24% of hiring managers found content on social networks that helped convince them to hire a candidate. Hiring managers said that profiles showing a professional image and solid references can boost a candidates chances for a job.
"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," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.com.
"As a result, more job seekers are taking action to make their social networking profiles employer-friendly. Sixteen per cent of workers who have social networking pages said they modified the content on their profile to convey a more professional image to potential employers."
CareerBuilder recommends that job seekers:
- Remove pictures, content and links that can send the wrong message to potential employers;
- Update social networking profiles regularly to highlight latest accomplishments;
- Consider blocking comments to avoid questionable posts; Avoid joining groups whose names could turn off potential employers; and
- Consider setting profile to private so only designated friends can view it.