Employers share strangest things they found on candidates' social media profiles

More employers are turning to social networking sites to find additional information on potential candidates, and they're not entirely impressed with what they're seeing. A new survey from CareerBuilder found that 51% of employers who research job candidates on social media said they've found content that caused them to not hire the candidate, up from 43% last year and 34% in 2012.

Forty-three percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 39% last year and 36% in 2012. Additionally, 12% of employers don't currently research candidates on social media, but plan to start, according to the national survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from February 10 to March 4, 2014, and included a representative sample of 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals, and a representative sample 3,022 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

Beyond Social Networking

Employers aren't limiting themselves to social networks when it comes to researching candidates' web presences. Forty-five percent of employers use search engines such as Google to research potential job candidates, with 20% saying they do so frequently or always. Additionally, 12% of employers say they've reviewed a potential job candidate's posts or comments on Glassdoor.com, Yelp.com or other ratings sites.

Helping or Hurting?

So what are employers finding on social media that's prompting them to eliminate candidates from consideration? The most common reasons to pass on a candidate included:

  • Job candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information46%
  • Job candidate posted information about them drinking or using drug: 41%
  • Job candidates bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee36%
  • Job candidate had poor communication skill: 32%
  • Job candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion etc.28%
  • Job candidate lied about qualification: 25%
  • Job candidate shared confidential information from previous employer: 24%
  • Job candidate was linked to criminal behavior22%
  • Job candidate's screen name was unprofessional21%
  • Job candidate lied about an absence13%

However, one-third (33%) of employers who research candidates on social networking sites say they've found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate. What's more, nearly a quarter (23%) found content that directly led to them hiring the candidate, up from 19% last year.

Some of the most common reasons employers hired a candidate based on their social networking presence included:

  • Got a good feel for the job candidate's personality, could see a good fit within the company culture46%
  • Job candidate's background information supported their professional qualifications for the job45%
  • Job candidate's site conveyed a professional image43%
  • Job candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interest: 40%
  • Job candidate had great communication skill: 40%
  • Job candidate was creative36%
  • Job candidate received awards and accolade: 31%
  • Other people posted great references about the job candidate30%
  • Job candidate had interacted with my company's social media account: 24%
  • Job candidate had a large amount of followers or subscriber: 14%

Employers shared the strangest things they've discovered on job candidates' or current employees' social media profiles, including:

  • Candidate's profile included links to an escort service
  • Candidate posted a photo of a warrant for his arrest
  • Candidate posted an exercise video for grandmothers
  • Candidate had sued his wife for shooting him in the head
  • Candidate featured a pig as his closest friend
  • Candidate posted his dental exam results
  • Candidate bragged about driving drunk and not getting caught on several occasions
  • Candidate was actively involved in a demonic cult
  • Candidate posted Sasquatch pictures he had taken