Survey shows 33 percent of companies have disqualified potential hires for social media activity

Recruiting passive job candidates remains top reason organizations use websites

Posted January 11, 2016

Over one-third of companies have disqualified a job candidate in the past year because of concerns about information found on public social media or an online search, according to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey.

Candidates were disqualified for illegal activity and discrepancies with job applications, among other reasons. However, two out of five organizations (39 percent) also allowed those candidates to explain any concerning information, an increase of 13 percentage points compared to 2011.

“Social media is another way recruiters verify applicants’ employment history and ensure that they are still viable applicants,” said Evren Esen, director of survey programs at SHRM. “Social media is here to stay, so employers and employees are utilizing it in various ways throughout the job search process.”

Recruiting passive job candidates remains the top reason that organizations use social media for recruitment. Currently, 84 percent of organizations use social media to recruit and 9 percent plan to use it.

Who do recruiters look for on social media?

  • Non-management, salaried employees — 87 percent
  • Management — 82 percent
  • Non-management, hourly employees — 55 percent
  • Executive/upper management — 45 percent

Effectiveness of social media recruiting in decreasing time to fill positions:

  • Non-management, salaried positions — 71 percent
  • Management positions (e.g., directors, managers) — 67 percent
  • Executive-upper management (e.g., CEO, CFO) — 59 percent
  • Non-management, hourly employees — 53 percent

While most organizations use social media to post job advertisements (89 percent), three-quarters use it to contact candidates, and over two-thirds use it to search for passive or active job candidates. Companies that did not use social media for recruiting cited concerns about legal risk (e.g., discovering protected characteristics such as race, religion, age, etc.) and lack of human resources staff time as the top reasons (both at 46 percent).

Mobile recruiting is also a popular tool among companies, with two-thirds of organizations (66 percent) currently leveraging it.

“Smartphone popularity has exploded, so the use of mobile — for both employers and job seekers — is a natural evolution for recruiting using technology,” Esen explained. “Companies are adapting to technology and to workers’ interests and, in doing so, they are saving time.”

Employers have adapted to mobile users by optimizing careers websites and job postings, adding mobile-enabled job applications, and making careers websites more prominent on company homepages.


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