Some Employers Rejecting Job Applicants Outright Because of Online Images Found in Social Networking Background Checks

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Blog Writer

Could what job applicants post on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter affect their chances of finding employment?

A recent story on – Rejected Outright for the Job Because of Their Online Image – details how a business strategist was helping a client with some key hires by searching for and identifying potential candidates on the business social network LinkedIn. The strategist’s client then “Googled” – i.e. checked on popular search engine giant – each candidate’s name on the short list to do a quick online background check.

According to the story, the job candidates were split into two categories, those people with a “positive web presence” and those people without one. Those with positive presences were interviewed for jobs while the others were rejected outright because of content they had on other social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or blogs they may have written.  As a result, the business strategist suggests job applicants look at their “personal brand” online to “make sure it matches who they are and how they want to be perceived.”

However, employers who conduct “social networking background checks” on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter should also be aware that doing so could possibly lead to problems, according to safe hiring expert, Lester Rosen, founder of San Francisco-area based Employment Screening Resources (ESR).

“Employers and recruiters have discovered a treasure trove of information on potential job applicants in social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online sources,” says Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual – The Complete Guide to Keeping Criminals, Imposters, and Terrorists Out of Your Workplace,” the first comprehensive book on employment screening. “However, the use of these sites can present legal risks, including privacy and discrimination issues.”

To help educate employers on the potential legal risks of “social networking background checks,” Rosen will present an online webinar – “Legal Risks of Social Network Sites and Employee Screening” – with the Northern California HR Association (NCHRA) on Friday, September 10, 2010 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm Pacific Time. The webinar is free to NCHRA members. To register, visit

For more information on “all things background checks,” visit