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54% of Employers Use Social Networking Sites to Research Job Candidates

As social networking grows increasingly pervasive, more employers are utilising these sites to screen potential employees. More than half (53 per cent) of employers reported in a recent CareerBuilder.co.uk survey that they use social networking sites to research job candidates. Another 12 per cent plan to start using social networking sites for screening. More than 450 employers participated in the survey, which was completed in December 2009.

Of those who conduct online searches/background checks of job candidates, 43 per cent use search engines, 12 per cent use Facebook and 12 per cent use LinkedIn. Three per cent search blogs, while an additional 4 per cent follow candidates on Twitter.

As job seekers gear up their search for employment in the new year, they are cautioned to be mindful of the information they post online and how they communicate directly with employers. Forty-three per cent of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate. The top examples cited include:
Candidate lied about qualifications 38 per cent
Candidate showed poor communication skills 31 per cent
Candidate made discriminatory comments 13 per cent
Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs 10 per cent
Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information 9 per cent
Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients 9 per cent
Candidate shared confidential information from previous employer 8 per cent.

Job seekers are also encouraged to leverage social media in advertising their skills and experience. Half of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them to hire the candidate. The top examples include:
Profile supported candidate's professional qualifications 61 per cent
Candidate showed solid communication skills 41 per cent
Candidate was well-rounded 37 per cent
Profile provided a good feel for the candidate's personality and fit 28 per cent
Candidate seemed creative 24 per cent
Candidate conveyed a professional image 22 per cent
Candidate received awards and accolades 15 per cent
Other people posted good references about the candidate 15 per cent.

"Social networking is a great way to make connections with potential job opportunities in 2010 and promote your personal brand across the Internet", said Farhan Yasin, president of CareerBuilder EMEA. "Make sure you are using this resource to your advantage by conveying a professional image and underscoring your qualifications."

In addition, once job seekers land a position, they need to mindful of their online usage. Forty-eight per cent of employers monitor employees' use of e-mail and the Internet. Twenty-eight per cent of employers reported that they have fired an employee for information found on his/her social networking profile. The most common reasons for termination were due to negative posts about the company or another employee, because they shared confidential information or because they represented themselves in an unprofessional manner (38 per cent each).

Yasin recommends the following DOs and DON'Ts to keep a positive image online this year:
1) DO clean up digital dirt BEFORE you begin your job search. Remove any photos, content and links that can work against you in an employer's eyes.
2) DO consider creating your own professional group on sites like Facebook or BrightFuse.com to establish relationships with thought leaders, recruiters and potential referrals.
3) DO keep gripes offline. Keep the content focused on the positive, whether that relates to professional or personal information. Makes sure to highlight specific accomplishments inside and outside of work.
4) DON'T forget others can see your friends, so be selective about who you accept as friends. Monitor comments made by others. Consider using the "block comments" feature or setting your profile to "private" so only designated friends can view it.
5) DON'T mention your job search if you're still employed.



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