Social Media Presence Hurts Some Job Applicants

July 1, 2014 ( – More employers are using job applicants’ social media content to help them decide whether or not he or she will be hired, says a new CareerBuilder survey.

The survey finds 51% of employers who research job candidates on social media said they have found content that caused them to not hire the candidate. This is up from 43% of employers that said the same in 2013, and 34% in 2012.

According to CareerBuilder, 43% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 39% in 2013 and 36% in 2012. Additionally, 12% of employers reported they plan to start researching candidates on social media. Employers are also using other online means to research job candidates; 45% of employers use search engines such as Google, with 20% saying they do so frequently or always.

Employers said the most common reasons they pass on a job candidate, after researching them, include the candidate:

  • Posting provocative or inappropriate photographs or other information (46%);
  • Posting information about them drinking or using drugs (41%);
  • Bad-mouthing their previous company or a fellow employee (36%);
  • Having poor communication skills (32%);
  • Having discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion etc. (28%);
  • Lying about qualifications (25%);
  • Sharing confidential information from previous employers (24%);
  • Was linked to criminal behavior (22%);
  • Screen name was unprofessional (21%); and
  • Lying about an absence (13%).

However, employers researching job candidates also reporting finding positive content about them online. One-third (33%) of employers said they have found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate. Nearly one-quarter (23%) found content that directly led to them hiring the candidate, up from 19% in 2013.

Some of the most common reasons employers hired a candidate based on their social networking content include:

  • Got a good feel for the candidate’s personality, could see a good fit within the company culture (46%);
  • Candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job (45%);
  • Candidate’s site conveyed a professional image (43%);
  • Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests (40%);
  • Candidate had great communication skills (40%);
  • Candidate was creative (36%);
  • Candidate received awards and accolades (31%);
  • Other people posted great references about the candidate (30%);
  • Candidate had interacted with prospective employer’s social media accounts (24%); and
  • Candidate had a large amount of followers or subscribers (14%).

As part of the survey, employers shared the strangest things they have discovered on a job candidate’s, or a current employee’s, social media profile:

  • Candidate posted a photo of a warrant for his arrest;
  • Candidate featured a pig as his closest friend;
  • Candidate posted his dental exam results;
  • Candidate bragged about driving drunk and not getting caught on several occasions;
  • Candidate was actively involved in a demonic cult; and
  • Candidate posted Sasquatch/Bigfoot pictures he had taken.

The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll, on behalf of CareerBuilder, among 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,022 workers ages 18 and over between February 10 and March 4.