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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Social Media Background ChecksA new survey from leading human capital solutions provider CareerBuilder has found that 51 percent of employers – more than half – who researched job candidates on social media found content that caused them to not hire the candidate, up from 43 percent in 2013 and 34 percent in 2012.

“It’s important for job seekers to remember that much of what they post to the Internet – and in some cases what others post about them – can be found by potential employers, and that can affect their chances of getting hired down the road,” Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, stated in a press release about the survey.

Overall, the survey found 43 percent of employers use social media to research job candidates, up from 39 percent last year and 36 percent in 2012. Additionally, 12 percent of employers did not currently research candidates on social media, but plan to start. The most common reasons employers found on social media that prompted them to eliminate job candidates from consideration included:

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

However, 33 percent of employers – one third – who researched job candidates on social media found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate. And 23 percent – nearly a quarter – found content that directly led to them hiring the candidate, up from 19 percent last year. Some of the most common reasons employers hired a candidate based on their social media presence included:

  • Got a good feel for the job candidate’s personality, could see a good fit within the company culture on social media – 46 percent
  • Job candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job on social media – 45 percent
  • Job candidate’s site conveyed a professional image on social media – 43 percent
  • Job candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests on social media – 40 percent
  • Job candidate had great communication skills on social media – 40 percent
  • Job candidate was creative on social media – 36 percent
  • Job candidate received awards and accolades on social media – 31 percent
  • Other people posted great references about the job candidate on social media – 30 percent
  • Job candidate had interacted with my company’s social media accounts on social media – 24 percent
  • Job candidate had a large amount of followers or subscribers on social media – 14 percent

Employers did not limit themselves to social media to researching job candidates as the survey found 45 percent of them used search engines such as Google to research potential job candidates, with 20 percent saying they did so frequently or always.

The survey also revealed workers and job seekers were taking measures to protect their privacy: 47 percent of workers – nearly half – only shared posts with friends and family, 41 percent had profiles set to private, and 18 percent kept separate professional and personal profiles.

“Job seekers need to stay vigilant, and pay attention to privacy updates from all of their social networking accounts so they know what information is out there for others to see,” said Haefner. “Take control of your web presence by limiting who can post to your profile and monitoring posts you’ve been tagged in.”

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from February 10 to March 4, 2014 and included 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,022 full-time private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions with an online career site,®, that is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. For more information, visit

ESR Releases White Paper on Social Media Background Checks

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a nationwide background screening provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – has released a white paper titled ‘Ten Potential Dangers When Using Social Media Background Checks’ to help employers understand the possible risks of using social media to screen job applicants. The complimentary white paper is available for download at For more information about Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), visit, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email [email protected].