There are lots of statistics out there about whether and to what extent employers are using social media as a screening tool for potential new hires. We’ve written about some of them before. Based on what we’ve read, and our decades of experience in the workplace, we believe that most statistics are understated.
What is more likely being captured is the number of recruiters who admit that they’re doing it. Speaking for myself, I rarely do a meeting with a new business associate without Googling him. If one of the first search results is his Facebook or LinkedIn profile, I’ll look. That goes double for someone I’m interviewing.
New data out of CareerBuilder’s annual Social Media Recruiting survey make a couple of things abundantly clear:
- The number of recruiters who use social media as a vetting tool is rising rapidly. 60% confirm that they are doing it this year vs. 52% last year and 11% 10 years ago.
- They aren’t just looking out of curiosity. 21% admit that they are looking for something that will disqualify a candidate, and 49% of those who do check have disqualified a candidate because of something they found.
According to the survey, one tactic that candidates have been employing – deleting social media accounts or using a pseudonym – might be doing more harm that good. 41% of respondents said that they are less likely to offer a candidate an interview if they can’t find them online, up from 35% last year. Candidates are much better off having, in our opinion, a professional LinkedIn profile and at least one clean, public social media profile. Either Facebook or Twitter works fine; Instagram is more problematic because the search function is more difficult to use.
The most frequently found negatives, in order:
- Inappropriate pictures, video or text posts
- Evidence of alcohol or drug use
- Hate speech related to race, religion or gender
- Negative comments about prior employer or coworkers
- Poor communication skills
The news isn’t all bad for job seekers. The most frequent positives, in order:
- Online information supported candidate’s job qualifications
- Online conduct was professional
- Personality appeared to be a good fit with company culture
- Candidate appeared to be well rounded
- Positive communication skills
A final note to successful hires: once you land the job, your public social media life can still be scrutinized. 41% of companies responding to the survey say they use social media to keep track of current employees, and 26% of them had fired or reprimanded employees for inappropriate online activity.