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April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- With the pervasive, worldwide adoption of social media, job seekers know that the all-important first impression is potentially made well before the first interview. But just how many hiring managers browse social media profiles, and what type of information are they hunting?
Nearly two in five companies (37 percent) use social networking sites to research job candidates, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder. Of the employers who do not research candidates on social media, 15 percent said their company prohibits the practice. Eleven percent report they do not currently use social media to screen, but plan to start.
In a 2009 study of employers who conduct online background checks, 45 percent said they used social media to screen job candidates.
The nationwide survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive from
February 9 to March 2, 2012, included more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.
What are hiring managers looking for on social media?Hiring managers are using social media to evaluate candidates' character and personality outside the confines of the traditional interview process. When asked why they use social networks to conduct background research, hiring managers stated the following:
To see if the candidate presents himself/herself professionally – 65 percent
To see if the candidate is a good fit for the company culture – 51 percent
To learn more about the candidate's qualifications – 45 percent
To see if the candidate is well-rounded – 35 percent
To look for reasons not to hire the candidate – 12 percent
"Because social media is a dominant form of communication today, you can certainly learn a lot about a person by viewing their public, online personas," said
Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "However, hiring managers and human resources departments have to make a careful, determined decision as to whether information found online is relevant to the candidates' qualifications for the job."
Is social media helping or hurting job candidates?A third (34 percent) of hiring managers who currently research candidates via social media said they have found information that has caused them not to hire a candidate. That content ranges from evidence of inappropriate behavior to information that contradicted their listed qualifications:
There was info about candidate drinking or using drugs – 45 percent
Candidate had poor communication skills – 35 percent
Candidate bad mouthed previous employer – 33 percent
Candidate made discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc. – 28 percent
Candidate lied about qualifications – 22 percent
While screening for red flags is one a reason for social media research, employers are also looking for information that could potentially give a job seeker an advantage. Three in ten hiring managers (29 percent) said they have found something that has caused them to hire a candidate, citing content that showed them the following:
Good feel for candidate's personality – 58 percent
Conveyed a professional image – 55 percent
Background information supported professional qualifications – 54 percent
Well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests – 51 percent
Great communication skills – 49 percent
Candidate was creative – 44 percent
Other people posted great references about the candidate – 34 percent
Haefner says the research reiterates the importance of controlling your online persona.