If you’ve ever found yourself accidentally checking out a job candidate’s wedding photo album on Facebook, cringing at a candidate’s Instagram quote, or following along with a candidate’s live-Tweeting of their run-in with Ryan Gosling at the grocery store – when all you initially meant to do was get a peek into their personalities and qualifications – you’re far from alone: Today, not only do the majority of employers go on social media to check up on candidates, but the number of those who do has increased 500 percent over the last decade.
According to CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals and more than 3,000 full-time U.S. workers, 60 percent of employers revealed they use social networking sites to research job candidates. This is up significantly from 52 percent last year, 22 percent in 2008 and 11 percent in 2006, when the survey was first conducted. Additionally, 59 percent of hiring managers use search engines to research candidates – compared to 51 percent last year.
Falling down a rabbit hole of someone’s Wikipedia page or Facebook comment threads happens to the best of us — but when it comes to gleaning information on candidates through social profiles, professionalism and relevance on the part of hiring managers and recruiters is key. 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 the 48 percent who said the same last year.
These are the top pieces of content that turned them off:
- Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information – 46 percent
- Information about candidate drinking or using drugs – 43 percent
- Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. – 33 percent
- Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee – 31 percent
- Poor communication skills – 29 percent
To be clear, most hiring managers aren’t intentionally looking for negatives (only 21 percent of employers say they’re looking for reasons not to hire a candidate) – they simply stumble upon them. Hiring managers in information technology and sales are the most likely to use social networks to screen candidates, at 76 percent and 65 percent respectively.
Why employers seek out social media profiles
While it’s true some employers use social media to look for reasons not to hire a candidate, the majority are using it as a resource to get a more holistic view of the person they’re thinking of bringing into their organization. They may also want to get a peek into a candidate’s side interest in graphic design or volunteer work at a local hospital – items not necessarily listed on their resume.
As Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder, says:
Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a resume or cover letter.”
Many employers are looking at candidates’ networking profiles as an expanded resume of sorts – and expect candidates to have an online presence. In fact, more than 2 in 5 employers (41 percent) say they are less likely to interview job candidates if they are unable to find information about that person online — a 6 percent increase since last year.
Six in 10 employers who currently use social networking sites to research job candidates (60 percent) are “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job,” according to the survey.
What does that mean, exactly?
- For some occupations, this could include a professional portfolio.
- 53 percent of these hiring managers want to see if a candidate has a professional online persona.
- 30 percent want to see what other people are posting about the candidate.
What else do employers want to see?
About one-third of employers who screen candidates via social networks (32 percent) say they found information that caused them to hire the candidate. Examples of such information included:
- Candidate’s background information supported job qualifications – 44 percent
- Candidate’s site conveyed a professional image – 44 percent
- Candidate’s personality came across as a good fit with company culture – 43 percent
- Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests – 40 percent
- Candidate had great communication skills – 36 percent
Social media lurking doesn’t end when candidates become employees, either:
- 41 percent of employers say they use social networking sites to research current employees.
- Nearly a third (32 percent) say they use search engines to check up on current employees.
- More than 1 in 4 (26 percent) say they have found content online that has caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.
Keeping it in perspective
While information discovered via social networking profiles can be relevant, it’s important for employers to keep a level head about it all. Look for positives first, and if you find a less-than-promising picture or comment by a potential employee, remember that you are looking at a piece of their online presence and may not always be seeing the full story. Whatever information you find — positive or negative — consider it in the context of all that the candidate is bringing to the table. Ask yourself, “How essential is this information to the role at hand and the person’s potential efficacy as an employee?”
Find information about the candidates you need quickly and easily with access to Recruitment Edge, which gives you access to over 90 million unique profiles with candidate info from across the web. Learn more.