Job Applicants Must Watch Their Online Profiles

We have often heard and long believed that employers use the internet not only to find candidates but also to vet them before or during the interview process. It’s human nature. There is a wealth of information online, and companies use whatever information they can to make good business decisions. It stands to reason that recruiting is no exception.

interviewStatistics about how exactly employers use online information, and how often they use it, are hard to come by. We recently came across some research that helps shed some light on things and thought we’d share it.

Christine Koenig, a former graduate student at Northern Central College in Illinois conducted a survey and related research (published May 2014) on the consequences of social media use on college and job applicants. We had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Koenig last month after reviewing the findings. Here we’ll focus on the part of the research that covered businesses and job applicants.

Ms. Koenig surveyed 342 businesses in the Chicago area and received responses from 40 of them. Some of the companies who did not respond to the survey cited company policies, which in itself is telling. If they weren’t checking (or prying or snooping – depends on your point of view), they would likely just say so.

Some highlights from questions/answers assembled in the survey:

  • 83% of businesses use the internet to research candidates
  • On how often recruiters use Google to check out applicants – 32.5% stated that they do so with every applicant
  • How often to do you check applicant social media? 23% do so either for every applicant or more often than “rarely”
  • Of those who check social media, 58% do so before any interviews are conducted
  • If disturbing content is found online, 75% of respondents answered “applicant is not considered for employment”
  • Only 13% of respondents “never” check applicant social media
  • 18% of respondents had asked candidates to accept friend requests on Facebook

In summary, this data confirms what we have been thinking. Candidates have no control over whether their online profiles will be searched unless they are fully private, and there are no second chances in 75% of cases if there is negative content found.

Knowing your Social Score, or how others may perceive you based on your online activity is now an essential part of the job search process. What is your Social Score?


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