While job applicants are used to being told to ditch the beer pictures on Facebook, more than half of U.S. companies now are less likely to interview a candidate who has no online presence.
A national survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder found that more than 57 percent of employers are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online. The majority of companies will dig through social profiles, but find it even more suspect if they see nothing at all.
“Most workers have some sort of online presence today — and more than half of employers won’t hire those without one,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “This shows the importance of cultivating a positive online persona. Job seekers should make their professional profiles visible online and ensure any information that could negatively impact their job search is made private or removed.”
The survey included a representative sample of more than 2,300 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes in the private sector. Cyber-vetting, the practice of researching potential candidates online, is becoming one of the primary ways companies find the right match for an open position.
Jason Eckert, director of career services at the University of Dayton, has seen his share of social media faux pas committed by students looking to land a job after graduation. He’s also seen students land positions because of their social media skills.
More than 70 percent of employers will use social media to screen candidates before hiring, a significant increase from the 11 percent of companies who practiced cyber-vetting in 2006. It’s become so important to employers that 30 percent of human resource departments have an employee dedicated to check social media profiles.
Eckert recalled one student in particular who had a job offer revoked after the employer saw his profile picture on Facebook. “He made his Facebook profile picture a very unflattering picture of himself dressed very scantily and drinking alcohol,” he said.
Approximately 54 percent of employers acknowledged finding content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate for an open role. Because of that, UD’s career services department talks to students about social media do’s and don’ts — and they encourage students to create a LinkedIn profile for employers to look at.
“It’s having a professional presence,” he said. “It’s illustrating you’re part of the professional culture of 2017. I still see instances where young people are making mistakes online, but that number has decreased compared to four or five years ago.”
Doug Barry, president and CEO of Dayton-based BarryStaff staffing company, said job seekers should be aware of what their goals are online. Applicants should make sure they’re digital brand doesn’t contradict the values or messages of the companies they’re trying to work for.
““Be smart about it,” Barry said of a person’s online profile. “Employers are looking for reasons not to hire you.”
“On the flip-side,” he said, “employers are making a mistake if they’re not hiring people for not having a digital profile. A lot of people don’t want to live in the digital world. It’s not a bad thing to be a private person. I would caution employers looking negatively upon that.”
Katie Sturgis, director of talent acquisition for Dayton-headquartered CareSource, said the company does have a social media policy to remind employees that they represent the company online and in person. CareSource still hires people who don’t have an online presence, but Sturgis said social media can be a “first impression” for companies to get to know candidates.
“A tool we utilize on a daily basis is LinkedIn,” she said. “I think the key is providing accurate and up-to-date information. Candidates need to realize this is their opportunity to represent themselves out on social media.”
Employers are also using social media to monitor their own employees. More than half of employers use social networking sites to research current employees. Thirty-four percent of employers have found content online that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee, according to the survey.
Melissa Spirek, full professor of media studies at Wright State University, said companies use digital information to determine the ability of the candidate to fit the culture — and they also use personal data posted online to learn information that would be illegal to ask in an interview.
Such information can include a candidate’s martial status, age, even sexual orientation.
Spirek’s advice to job applicants: “They should ask themselves, ‘What is the potential cost of posting this message?’”
By the numbers
70: Percentage of employers who use social media to screen candidates, up from 11 percent in 2006.
57: Percentage of employers who are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online.
54: Percentage of employers who acknowledge not hiring a candidate based on their social media profile.
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