7 in 10 Employers Research Job Candidates Online

Rachel Nauen


Employers aren’t just turning to background checks and references for information on candidates anymore. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 7 in 10 employers (70 percent) use social media and online search engines to screen job applicants. This number is growing, with no signs of slowing – employers scouring candidates’ online personas has increased 10 percentage points from last year and 18 percentage points from the year before.

What should employers look for?
When researching candidates for a job, employers are looking for information that supports the candidate’s qualifications for the job (61 percent), if the candidate has a professional online persona (50 percent), what other people are posting about the candidate (37 percent) and reasons not to hire a candidate (24 percent).

What’s making employers think twice about a candidate?
More than half of employers (54 percent) have found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate for an open role. Of those who decided not to hire a candidate based on their social media profiles, the reason shared was:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39 percent
  • Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs: 38 percent
  • Candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32 percent
  • Candidate bad-mouthed a previous employer or fellow employee: 30 percent
  • Candidate lied about qualifications: 27 percent
  • Candidate was linked to criminal behavior: 26 percent
  • Candidate had poor communication skills: 27 percent
  • Candidate shared confidential information from previous employers: 23 percent

Applicants who have no online presence are also giving employers pause. Fifty-seven percent of employers are less likely to call someone in for an interview if they can’t find a job candidate online. Of that group, 36 percent like to gather more information before calling in a candidate for an interview, and 25 percent expect candidates to have an online presence.
The practice of researching candidates on social networking sites is still viewed negatively by some candidates, despite continued growth. Employers who see the value in researching candidates online may want to establish policies and guidelines for hiring managers to ensure candidates are treated with respect and don’t feel their privacy is being infringed upon.

When researching candidates online, proceed with caution. Check out the do's and don'ts when researching candidates on social media.

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