Post, tweet, pin, follow: How social media can help – and hurt – the job hunt

Social Media Research 2015 - Header

More than half of employers research job candidates on social media.

Employers checking out job candidates' social media profiles is nothing new – in fact, it may be becoming the norm. The percentage of companies that use social networking sites to research job applicants has been steadily growing, from 39 percent in 2013, up to 43 percent last year, and now 52 percent according to CareerBuilder's annual social media recruitment survey.

As this trend continues, some employers are starting to consider a candidate's absence from social media to be a red flag. More than one third (35 percent) said they'd be less likely to interview someone they couldn't find online.

Digital dirt

Perhaps understandably, some people are uncomfortable with this trend. But before you get too upset, keep in mind that, for the most part, employers aren't looking for reasons not to hire someone.

Content is king

Depending on what hiring managers find, candidates' online information can help or hurt their odds of getting a job. Forty-eight percent of hiring managers who screen candidates via social networks said they've found information that caused them not to hire a candidate – down slightly from 51 percent last year.

So what have employers found to keep them from hiring someone? Some of the most commonly cited answers include:

Provocative or inappropriate photographs – 46 percent

Information about candidate drinking or using drugs – 40 percent

Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee – 34 percent

Poor communication skills – 30 percent

Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. – 29 percent

Still, about one-third (32 percent) found information that caused them to hire a candidate, including:

Candidate's background information supported job qualifications –42 percent

Candidate's personality came across as good fit with company culture – 38 percent

Candidate's site conveyed a professional image – 38 percent

Candidate had great communication skills – 37 percent

Candidate was creative – 36 percent

Let's connect

Want to know when an employer is researching you on social media? In some cases, they'll let you know by sending a friend or follow request.