Use of Social Networking as HR Screening Tool Still Growing

August 19, 2009 ( - A new CareerBuilder survey has found that 45% of employers rely on social networking Web sites to find out more about job candidates.

A CareerBuilder news release said that represented a big jump from the 22% who gave that response in a 2008 survey. Another 11% in the latest poll said they intend to start mining social networking sites for screening purposes.

Of those turning to social networking avenues, 29% like Facebook, 26% prefer LinkedIn, and 21% turn to MySpace. Some 11% scan blogs to find out about candidates while 7% look at Twitter to explore a candidate’s background.

Not surprisingly, IT managers are the most likely to use the social networking sites (63%), followed by hiring managers in professional and business services (53%).

Asked about information gleaned from a social networking site that helped convince them about a candidate, hiring managers cited:

  • Profile provided a good feel for the candidate’s personality and potential fit within the organization, 50%;
  • Profile supported candidate’s professional qualifications, 39%;
  • Candidate was creative, 38%;
  • Candidate showed solid communication skills, 35%;
  • Candidate was well-rounded,33%;
  • Other people posted good references about the candidate, 19%; and
  • Candidate received awards and accolades,15%.

As more employers are using them to research applicants, a trip to a social networking site might represent more of a danger than a boost for a job candidate. Thirty-five percent of hiring managers say they have found information through that route that caused them to shy away from a job candidate.

Negative information found included:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information, 53%;
  • Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs, 44%;
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients, 35%;
  • Candidate showed poor communication skills, 29%;
  • Candidate made discriminatory comments, 26%;
  • Candidate lied about qualifications, 24%; and
  • Candidate shared confidential information from previous employer, 20%.

Fourteen percent of employers said they have disregarded a candidate because the candidate sent a message using an emoticon such as a smiley face, while 16% dismissed a candidate for using text language such as GR8 (great) in an email or job application.

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of between May 22 and June 10, 2009, among 2,667 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time; not self-employed; with at least significant involvement in hiring decisions; non- government) ages 18 and over.