Personal Finance

Employers check your social media before hiring. Many then find reasons not to offer you a job

Key Points
  • In 2006, just 12 percent of hiring managers were using social media accounts as a screening tool. By 2010 that figure had grown to 25 percent and now stands at 70 percent.
  • The top three turnoffs cited are provocative or inappropriate content, posts about drinking or using drugs, and discriminatory comments.
Photo courtesy of Getty

If you're looking for a job, you might want to think twice about posting that suggestive photo of you double-fisting margaritas on a booze cruise.

More than half of employers (57 percent) that check job candidates' social media say they've seen content that has caused them to eliminate a person as a job contender, according to new research from CareerBuilder.

The top three turnoffs are provocative or inappropriate content (40 percent), posts about drinking or using drugs (36 percent), and discriminatory comments (31 percent).

Social media content that causes employers to eliminate job candidates

Posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information40 percent
Posted information about them drinking or using drugs36 percent
Had discriminatory comments related to rage, gender, religion, etc.31 percent
Was linked to criminal behavior30 percent
Lied about qualifications27 percent
Had poor communication skills27 percent
Bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee25 percent
Screen name was unprofessional22 percent
Shared confidential information from previous employers20 percent
Lied about an absence16 percent
Posted too frequently12 percent

Source: Source: CareerBuilder

"The message to job seekers is to use common sense," said Michael Erwin, a senior career advisor and spokesman for CareerBuilder. "If you are job searching or know you will be, make sure your social media presents you in a way that will make an employer want to hire you."

The company's online poll, conducted in the spring, surveyed more than 1,000 hiring managers and human resources professionals.

Reasons employers check social media

Information that supports their qualifications for the job58 percent
If the candidate has a professional online persona50 percent
What other people are posting about the candidate34 percent
A reason not to hire the candidate22 percent

Source: Source: CareerBuilder

In 2006, when CareerBuilder first began tracking whether employers were making social media checks, just 12 percent of companies were using them as a screening tool. By 2010 that figure had grown to 25 percent and now stands at 70 percent.

And based on the survey, the scrutiny continues after you're hired: 48 percent of respondents say they monitor current employees' social media activity.

This is not to say you should avoid having an online presence altogether: 47 percent of hiring managers said the absence of one has actually made them back off interest in a job candidate. Just remember that if you make something publicly available on any site, a prospective employer might see it.

Social media content that led an employer to offer a job

Background information supported professional qualifications37 percent
Candidate was creative34 percent
Candidate's site conveyed a professional image33 percent
Well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests31 percent
Got a good feel for his or her personality, a good fit with company culture31 percent
Great communication skills28 percent
Received awards and accolades26 percent
Other people posted great references about job candidate23 percent
Had interacted with my company's social media accounts22 percent
Posted compelling video or other content21 percent
A large number of followers or subscribers18 percent

Source: Source: CareerBuilder

Also, your social media can be helpful: 43 percent of employers say they have seen something in posted content that made them hire someone, ranging from confirmation of the person's professional qualifications to evidence that the candidate is creative or well-rounded.

"Use social media to your advantage," Erwin said. "It can help you differentiate yourself from someone who isn't doing that."

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