A Mixed Social Media Bag

online repBy now, hiring managers know the potential perils of turning to social networking sites to research job candidates.

A recent survey, however, not only finds more companies using social media to help inform hiring decisions, but suggests some job seekers have yet to figure out their social media profiles can hinder as well as help their employment chances.

In an online poll of more than 2,100 hiring managers and HR professionals, conducted by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder, 39 percent of respondents reported using social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 37 percent in 2012.

A small increase, to be sure, but consider that only 19 percent of hiring managers said their social media searches turned up information that made candidates more attractive or helped them earn job offers. Among these respondents, the most common positive nuggets they have uncovered include:

• Candidate conveyed a professional image (57 percent);

• Got a good feel for candidate’s personality (50 percent);

• Candidate was well-rounded and showed a wide range of interests (50 percent); and

• Background information supported candidate’s professional qualifications (49 percent).

Still, many employers found their share of social media content that helped take an applicant out of contention, such as:

• Provocative or inappropriate photos or information (50 percent);

• Information about a candidate drinking or using drugs (48 percent);

• Negative comments directed toward a former employer (33 percent); and

• Content that indicated poor communication skills (30 percent).

On one hand, “employers are using all the tools available to them to assure they make the correct hiring decision, and the use of social media continues to grow,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, in a statement.

“At the same time,” she cautioned, “hiring managers and human resource departments must carefully consider how to use information obtained from social media and whether it is relevant to a candidate’s qualifications.”