That employers (and sentencers) use social networks like MySpace or Facebook to screen potential employees is nothing new. What is interesting is the amount of them that do, according to a CareerBuilder survey released last week. In the survey of 3,169 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 8,785 employees, 22% of hiring managers say they use social network profiles as part of their hiring decision. “Of those hiring managers who have screened job candidates via social networking profiles, one-third (34 percent) reported they found content that caused them to dismiss the candidate from consideration.”

Among the reasons for negative response on the part of the hiring parties are (outside of the even more common sense ones like discriminatory remarks or illegal behavior):

  • Information about drinking and drugs (41%)
  • Poor communication skills (29%)
  • Bad-mouthing previous employers or fellow employees (28%)
  • candidate lying about qualifications (27%)
  • Unprofessional screen name (22%)
  • Sharing confidential information about former employer (19%)

On the other hand, 24% of hiring managers said profiles had helped them decide on hiring an applicant. Reasons given for positive responses included that an applicant’s profile demonstrated:

  • qualifications for the job (48%)
  • great communication skills (43%)
  • candidate was a good fit for the company’s culture (40%)
  • wide range of interests (30%)
  • profile was creative (24%)

The ultimate legality of using social network profiles as background checks is still being debated. While there have been a good deal of “MySpace firings” in the news, the litmus test for the relationship between human resources and social networks has yet to happen.

By Mark Alvarez