Survey: 37 Percent of Firms Use Social Media to Research Candidates

Chicago — April 18

With the 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 37 percent of firms 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.

Hiring managers are using social media to evaluate candidates’ character and personality outside the confines of the traditional interview process, the survey said. When asked why they use social networks to conduct background research, hiring managers said:

• 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

About 34 percent of hiring managers who 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:

• Candidate posted provocative/inappropriate photos/info — 49 percent
• 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 reason for social media research, employers are also looking for information that could potentially give a job seeker an advantage. About 29 percent of the survey’s respondents 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

Moreover, employers are primarily using Facebook (65 percent) and LinkedIn (63 percent) to research candidates; 16 percent use Twitter, according to the survey.

The survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive from Feb. 9 to March 2, included more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes. With a pure probability sample of 2,303, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall survey results have a sampling error of +/- 2.04 percentage points.

Source: CareerBuilder