Filling a Position? Social Media Posts Continue to Vex Employers

Jul 10 2014 - Social Media - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

According to a recent Career Builder survey, employers are increasingly turning to social networking sites to find additional information on potential candidates – and they are not always pleased with what they find.  The survey, conducted by Harris Poll, found that 51 percent of employers who research job candidates on social media reported finding content that caused them to not hire the candidate, up from 43 percent of surveyed employers last year and 34 percent in 2012.

The number of employers who use social networking sites to research job candidates has also increased to 43 percent, up from 39 percent last year and 36 percent in 2012. 12 percent of employers don’t currently research candidates on social media, but plan to start.

Employers are using a combination of both social networks and search engines, such as Google, to find information on potential hires.

What type of content prompted the elimination of a candidate from the applicant pool? The most common reasons to pass on a candidate included:

  • Job candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 46 percent
  • Job candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs – 41 percent
  • Job candidates bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee – 36 percent
  • Job candidate had poor communication skills – 32 percent
  • Job candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion etc. – 28 percent
  • Job candidate lied about qualifications – 25 percent
  • Job candidate shared confidential information from previous employers – 24 percent
  • Job candidate was linked to criminal behavior – 22 percent
  • Job candidate’s screen name was unprofessional – 21 percent
  • Job candidate lied about an absence – 13 percent

But employers did not always find bad news.

One-third of employers who research candidates on social networking sites say they’ve found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate, and nearly a quarter of these employers found content that directly led to them to hiring the candidate. For instance, employers reported that a candidate’s social networking presence often gave them a good feel for the job candidate’s personality and company fit.  Employers also might find background information that supported the applicant’s qualifications for the job.

The Wild and Wacky

As part of the survey, employers also shared the strangest things they’ve discovered on job candidates’ or current employees’ social media profiles, including:

  • Candidate’s profile included links to an escort service
  • Candidate posted a photo of a warrant for his arrest
  • Candidate posted an exercise video for grandmothers
  • Candidate had sued his wife for shooting him in the head
  • 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
  • Candidate posted Sasquatch pictures he had taken

What Can You Do?

California employers will want to know the legal restrictions on access to or use of applicant/employee social media posts.

CalChamber’s live webinar on July 17 — Social Media at Work: Productive or Destructive?— will delve into an employee’s right to privacy versus an employer’s right to monitor social media actions that impact the company.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

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