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What Happens on Social Media, Stays on Social Media … and Employers Are Noticing

Everything you post to the Internet, stays there, whether you want it to or not. Through the magic of technology, nothing ever really disappears from the web and that includes social media posts. No matter what lengths you take to erase your digital thumbprint, some traces will always remain, and the bad news: employers are noticing, and basing their hiring decisions on these social postings.

social media

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According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, while 7% plan to start using social media to screen candidates. And that review matters: Of those that do social research, 57% have found content that caused them not to hire candidates.

The national survey was conducted online on behalf of CareerBuilder by The Harris Poll between April 4 and May 1, 2018. It included a representative sample of more than 1,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes in the private sector.

Who’s Checking and Why?

Broken down by industry, those in IT* (74%) and manufacturing (73%) are more likely than those in retail/nonretail sales* (59%) to do social networking digging on potential job candidates. But it’s not just the social sites that are fair game—66% of employers say they use search engines to conduct their research on potential job candidates.

Nearly half of employers (47%) say that if they can’t find a job candidate online, they are less likely to call that person in for an interview—28% say that is because they like to gather more information before calling in a candidate for an interview; 20% say they expect candidates to have an online presence.

According to employers who use social networking sites to research potential job candidates, what they’re looking for when researching candidates is:

  • Information that supports their qualifications for the job: 58%
  • If the candidate has a professional online persona: 50%
  • What other people are posting about the candidate: 34%
  • A reason not to hire the candidate: 22%

Content to be Careful About

As social media permeates all aspects of our personal and professional lives, what you post online can have serious and lasting consequences. Employers who found content on a social networking site that caused them not to hire a job candidate said these were the primary reasons:

  • Job candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information: 40%
  • Job candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs: 36%
  • Job candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc.: 31%
  • Job candidate was linked to criminal behavior: 30%
  • Job candidate lied about qualifications: 27%
  • Job candidate had poor communication skills: 27%
  • Job candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee: 25%
  • Job candidate’s screen name was unprofessional: 22%
  • Job candidate shared confidential information from previous employers: 20%
  • Job candidate lied about an absence: 16%
  • Job candidate posted too frequently: 12%

On the other hand, those that found content that led them to hire a candidate said it was because they saw:

  • Job candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job: 37%
  • Job candidate was creative: 34%
  • Job candidate’s site conveyed a professional image: 33%
  • Job candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests: 31%
  • Got a good feel for the job candidate’s personality, could see a good fit within the company culture: 31%
  • Job candidate had great communications skills: 28%
  • Job candidate received awards and accolades: 26%
  • Other people posted great references about the job candidate: 23%
  • Job candidate had interacted with company’s social media accounts: 22%
  • Job candidate posted compelling video or other content: 21%
  • Job candidate had a large number of followers or subscribers: 18%

The Monitoring Doesn’t Stop Once on the Job

Employers continue to monitor employees’ online presence even after they’re hired. Nearly half of employers (48%) say they use social networking sites to research current employees—10% do it daily. Further, a third of employers (34%) have found content online that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.