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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The number of employers using “social media background checks” to screen job candidates increased 500 percent over the past decade, according to the annual CareerBuilder social media recruitment survey, with 60 percent of employers using social media to research job candidates in 2016, up significantly from 52 percent in 2015, 22 percent in 2008, and 11 percent in 2006, when the survey was first conducted.

“Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a resume or cover letter,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder, stated in a press release about the social media recruitment survey. “And with more and more people using social media, it’s not unusual to see the usage for recruitment to grow as well.”

The CareerBuilder social media recruitment survey revealed that of the 59 percent of hiring managers who used search engines to research candidates, nearly half of them – 49 percent – found information available through social media that caused them not to hire a job candidate. The following are the top five types of social media content that had a negative effect on potential employers:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information – 46 percent
  • Information about candidate drinking or using drugs – 43 percent
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. – 33 percent
  • Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee – 31 percent
  • Poor communication skills – 29 percent

However, the survey also found that nearly one-third of employers who screened candidates through social media – 32 percent –found information that caused them to hire a candidate, including:

  • Candidate’s background information supported job qualifications – 44 percent
  • Candidate’s site conveyed a professional image – 44 percent
  • Candidate’s personality came across as a good fit with company culture – 43 percent
  • Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests – 40 percent
  • Candidate had great communication skills – 36 percent

In addition, the survey found that employers did not just screen potential employees through social media, as 41 percent of employers used social networking sites to research current employees, nearly a third – 32 percent – used search engines to check up on current employees, and more than one in four – 26 percent – found content online that caused them to reprimand or even fire an employee.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder between February 10, 2016, and March 17, 2016, and included a representative sample of 2,186 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,031 full time, US workers in the private sector across industries and company sizes. For more information about the CareerBuilder social media survey, click here.

CareerBuilder is a global leader in human capital solutions that specializes in cutting-edge HR software as a service to help companies with every step of the recruitment process from acquire to hire. CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada, and Asia. For more information, visit

ESR Whitepaper on Social Media Background Checks


To help employers using social media to screen applicants avoid legal risk, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) has released an update of its complimentary whitepaper ‘Ten Potential Dangers When Using Social Media Background Checks’ written by ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen. The whitepaper is available at

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

© 2016 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.