Report: Could Social Media Become the Next Requirement for Employment?

Social media is basically ubiquitous in almost everyone’s professional and personal lives, but according to a recent survey commissioned by CareerBuilder, social media might actually be fast-becoming a prerequisite to getting that coveted interview.

By now it's common knowledge that employers—54% of them to be exact—are less likely to hire a candidate after finding their social media profiles distasteful. It is also fairly well-known that at least a third of employers have disciplined or fired employees for inappropriate content. However, according to the latest CareerBuilder survey run by HarrisPoll across 2,300 hiring managers last year, 57% of recruiters are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online, period. This means an online presence is quickly becoming a double-edged sword. Gone are the days when not having a social media profile increased a candidate's chances by reducing opportunities for misbehavior. Now, according to CareerBuilder, it may soon become necessary to have one in order to be considered at all.

In fact, 70% of employers are using social media to screen candidates prior to hiring—a giant spike from 11% just over a decade ago. Over 60% of hiring managers reported they were checking to see if employees had any pertinent qualifications listed, and half reported wanting to see if the candidate had a professional online persona. According to the same survey, social media screening also continues well after a candidate is hired—at least half of employers check their employees’ social media profiles on a regular basis.

RELATED RESOURCE: The Definitive Guide to Social Media Screening

According to CareerBuilder’s report, of those employers who decided not to hire a candidate based on their social media profiles, the reasons included:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39%
  • Drinking or using drugs: 38%
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32%
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee: 30%
  • Candidate was linked to criminal behavior: 26%

Social media affords both parties additional opportunities for exposure and success, which naturally comes with the responsibility to maintain it. In the same way that an employer must keep up with marketing and SEO trends in order to make their job postings discoverable by candidates, candidates must also be accountable for cultivating a desirable, appropriate online presence.

If this trend continues to rise (and it will), the sheer amount of content for hiring managers to sift through is daunting—and even more difficult to do it legally. Thankfully, though, it is possible to follow objective screening practices to the letter, and it is possible to set parameters on what can be considered red-flag material.


Our professional opinion: While not all methods of social media screening are created equal and many employers are likely violating FCRA compliance by screening social media in-house, the results of this survey confirm the rising popularity (and critical importance) of online due diligence. Not only does social media continue to expand as viable platforms for both marketing and recruiting, but awareness about using social media responsibly is climbing as well. It’s time that both employees and employers recognize the value of having a social media screener to protect both parties involved, encourage responsible use of social platforms, and create healthier workplaces that benefit both individual employees as well as the company bottom line.