Should You Be Concerned About a Candidate’s Social Media Presence?

HR managers and recruiters have been using social media to screen candidates for a while now. And the trend is rising. But what happens when you find a great candidate who’s perfect except for his or her social media presence?

According to CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment survey, 60% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up significantly from 52% last year, 22% in 2008, and 11% in 2006, when the survey was first conducted. Additionally, 59% of hiring managers are using search engines to research candidates compared to 51% last year.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll® on behalf of CareerBuilder between February 10, 2016, and March 17, 2016, and included a representative sample of 2,186 hiring managers and human resources professionals and 3,031 full-time U.S. workers in the private sector across industries and company sizes.

“Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a résumé or cover letter,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “And with more and more people using social media, it’s not unusual to see the usage for recruitment to grow as well.”

Hiring managers in the information technology (IT) and sales industries are the most likely to use social networks to screen candidates; professional and business services were the least likely to use it.

  • IT: 76%
  • Sales: 65%
  • Financial services: 61%
  • Health care: 59%
  • Retail: 59%
  • Manufacturing: 56%
  • Professional and business services: 55%

Most hiring managers aren’t intentionally looking for negatives. Six in 10 employers that currently use social networking sites to research job candidates (60%) are “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job,” according to the survey.

For some occupations, this could include a professional portfolio. Fifty-three percent of these hiring managers want to see if the candidate has a professional online persona, 30% want to see what other people are posting about the candidate, and 21% admit they’re looking for reasons not to hire the candidate.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

There’s a lot of buzz about the various ways social media blunders can cost you a job, but that doesn’t mean you should keep your profiles completely private. More than two in five employers (41%) say they are less likely to interview job candidates if they are unable to find information about that person online—a 6% increase since last year.

Thirty-six percent of employers who screen via social networks have requested to “be a friend” or follow candidates who have private accounts. Of that group, 68% say they’ve been granted permission—down from 80% last year.

Depending on what hiring managers find, candidates’ online information can help or hurt their odds of getting a job. Forty-nine percent of hiring managers who screen candidates via social networks said they’ve found information that caused them not to hire a candidate—on par with last year at 48%. The following are the top pieces of content that turned off these employers:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information—46%
  • Information about candidate drinking or using drugs—43%
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc.—33%
  • Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee—31%
  • Poor communication skills—29%

About one-third of employers that screen candidates via social networks (32%), however, found information that caused them to hire a candidate, including:

  • Candidate’s background information supported job qualifications—44%
  • Candidate’s site conveyed a professional image—44%
  • Candidate’s personality came across as a good fit with company culture—43%
  • Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests—40%
  • Candidate had great communication skills—36%

Tomorrow we’ll look at how employers are effected by their own social media presence as well as some tips on how to screen using social media.

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