Drug testing, background or credit checks used to be factors that could disqualify an otherwise great job candidate. And now companies are adding formal social media evaluations to the list, according to new data from MRINetwork. Gone are the days of employers casually reviewing social media to assess prospective hires—and candidates are catching on.
According to the 2018 MRINetwork Reputation Management Study, a growing number of employers (18 percent) are formalizing their process of reviewing candidate social media profiles. Another 17 percent are considering doing so in the future. “We would like to know how candidates represent themselves outside of work, as they will need to have the maturity and positive personality to represent the company both professionally and socially,” said an employer respondent.
Providing strict guidelines around online searches helps outline how employers should use social media in the hiring process. They cannot, for example, allow protected characteristics including age, sex, race, color, religion and national origin to influence their decision to recruit a candidate.
What are prospective employers looking to find out?
The study revealed that questionable content or behavior is the number one activity that employers are looking for (39 percent). Active engagement in trade or professional associations (27 percent) and offensive social or political views (19 percent) are other focal points at the top of employers’ lists.
Candidates are, of course, savvy to these employer evaluations. Nearly half (48 percent) believe their social media presence is important or very important to potential employers. “I’m confident this will become an increasingly important and commonplace assessment step in all comprehensive candidate evaluations,” said one job seeker that responded to the survey.
Applicants also know what employers are looking for—in fact, 70 percent of candidates said questionable content or behavior was the biggest red flag. “Social media provides a window into a candidate’s life that will not be available in a face-to-face interview,” said one applicant that responded to the survey. “It can strongly influence the decision to interview/hire an applicant.”
Job candidates are taking steps to protect themselves
They often set their profiles to “private” or develop separate professional accounts to attract the attention of recruiters and hiring authorities. Many applicants recognize a smart social media strategy can improve their odds of gaining an interview, while a weak social media presence can cause them to be ignored by potential employers.
The 2018 MRINetwork Reputation Management Study is based on a web-based survey conducted between March – April, 2018, in partnership with Haley Marketing Group, with a total of 400 candidates and nearly 200 employers responding across the U.S.