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Three quarters of employers check social media before hiring

Bosses are increasingly looking at the social media profiles of candidates before offering them a job or promotion, according to new research.

Inappropriate photographs, statements and behaviour on Facebook could be costing candidates any chance of finding a job as bosses are rejecting those whose online behaviour falls short of expected standards,according to the findings of a survey by health and safety law consultancy

Up to three-quarters of managers now admit to looking up profiles of both candidates and existing employees, and dumping anyone who might bring the company into disrepute.

“The job market is so competitive these days, which means employers are only taking on the best applicants,” said Protecting spokesperson Mark Hall.

“That means your social media presence has to be absolutely spotless, and the Facebook trawl is becoming standard practice in recruiting.”

A survey of 550 managers who have a say in the company or organisation’s recruiting process found that:

  • 74 percent look for candidates’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to see if they display behaviour that unsuitable for the job
  • 68 percent had rejected a candidate based on social media postings
  • 24 percent had warned current staff over their social media presence
  • 15 percent were suspicious of a candidate that had no visible social media presence

Protecting found no shortage of business leaders willing to share their experiences in recruiting staff in a digital age:

“One young man had a really interesting CV, but I was horribly surprised to find a whole load of swearing, racist and sexist jokes on his public timeline. Suddenly, I wasn’t so keen to offer him a job,” said one manager.

“One candidate for a supervisory role at our company was endorsed on LinkedIn for ‘being a party animal’ and ‘getting the wacky-baccy in’,” said another. “No thanks.”

“Picture after picture after picture of drunk photos. The first think I saw was a middle finger being held up at me. Not in my company,” said a third.

But respondents suggested that a candidate’s social media profile could also work in their favour:

“One candidate’s application wasn’t so great, but her Facebook backed up all the voluntary work she claimed she did. We took her on, and she’s been one of our finest investments.”

Protecting says that employers have to cut candidates some slack, as – after all – everybody is entitled to a private life, some of which might be advertised on a raucous social media page.

“Social media shouldn’t be the immediate deal-breaker when it comes to recruitment,” said Mark. “They might be a party animal outside of work, but it’s their work skills and behaviour you’re employing them for.”

Candidates, however, should be more aware of their online reputation. “Delete those photos, change your privacy settings, or better still, don’t post them in the first place,” is the advice.