Vetting Job Candidates via Social Media

As job seekers expand their digital footprints through social media and other online activity, recruiters are hot on their heels.

Nearly 80 percent of recruiters say they use some type of internet or social media search as a way to vet or learn more about potential candidates, according to a recent survey of 300 recruiters in a variety of industries nationwide conducted by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
What’s more, 76 percent of recruiters check these sites before they initially contact the candidate.

Where Recruiters Search

A full 96 percent of respondents say that they check LinkedIn before contacting a candidate, while 40 percent check Facebook, 16 percent search Twitter, and 14 percent see what appears on a Google search.

What Recruiters Look For

The most problematic content for recruiters, according to the survey, is pictures or language depicting drug use, followed by evidence of unprofessional behavior.
Recruiters also indicate that any public records on lawsuits or felonies are very problematic, as is any evidence that contradicts what appears on a candidate’s resume.
Here is how survey respondents answered the question about content.

Which of the following content is most problematic when vetting a candidate?

Pictures or language of drug use 86.7%
Embarrassing evidence of unprofessional behavior 70.0%
Information about candidate credentials that contradicts data on his/her resume 70.0%
Public records or references to lawsuits or felonies 68.3%
Vulgar language 60.0%
Lack of any professional content 46.7%
Personal information you would not share in the workplace 46.7%
Pictures or language of smoking/alcohol use 43.3%
Spelling and grammar mistakes 40.0%
Evidence of a moonlighting business that could be a conflict of interest with, or distraction from, candidate’s primary work 36.7%
Controversial associations, opinions, or memberships 30.0%
Posts on prior or current employers 25.0%
Lack of updates on relevant professional topics 11.7%
Lack of original content on professional topics 11.7%

Presence Matters

While having unprofessional social media can hurt candidates, having no online presence is often concerning to employers as well. The survey asked whether having no social media presence hurts a candidate, and 43 percent of recruiters say it does.
Even among the 45 percent of recruiters who say that a social media presence neither helps nor hurts a candidate, many recruiters say that having no online presence gives them pause. They cite concerns about how tech savvy the candidate is, and the person’s ability to learn new technologies.
“Employers want to hire workers who can adapt to the changing technologies used in business,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.