Social Suicide: Is Your Facebook Profile Putting Employers Off?

Funny Facebook photos might give your friends and family a giggle, but what would a potential employer think of your hen party antics or you with your head down the loo on New Year’s Day? Did you know that around a third of employers now scan Facebook profiles to get more information on job candidates? Alarmingly, of these, a third say what they find puts them off hiring the candidate.
“Social media is a primary vehicle of communication today, and because much of that communication is public, it’s no surprise some recruiters and hiring managers are tuning in,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at, which has carried out research on how employers use social channels to screen job applicants.
Social channels provide a quick, low-cost way to weed out candidates who appear to have undesirable character traits, says Haefner. HR professionals tend to be looking out for signs of excessive drinking and drug taking, strange hobbies, extreme views, and evidence of antisocial behaviour.
The thinking is that it’s easier to make decisions about the level of candidates’ professionalism once the contents of their Facebook pages have been scanned. So stop and think before sending out your Legal Secretary job applications – is your social media profile saying way too much about you? conducted a survey last year that asked 2,303 hiring managers and HR professionals how exactly they incorporate social media into their hiring process.
The survey found that over a third – 37% of employers – do use social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to screen potential job candidates. In other words, two in five companies browse social media profiles to evaluate character and personality. Logic suggests that this is likely to be a more widely used avenue of research around job candidates in the coming years.
Key findings
34% of employers who scan social media profiles said they have found content that has caused them not to hire the candidate.
50% of those employers said they didn’t offer a job candidate the position because of provocative or inappropriate photos and information posted on his or her profile.
45% said they chose not to hire someone because of evidence of drinking and/or drug use on his or her social profile.
Other reasons they decided not to offer the job: the candidate’s profile displayed poor communication skills or bad-mouthed previous employers; made discriminatory comments related to race, gender or religion; or lied about qualifications.
How to stop Facebook ruining your chances of getting hired
It’s fairly easy to ensure Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn aren’t working against you. Start by removing any dodgy photos – anything you wouldn’t want a boss to see. Make sure your language isn’t rude or offensive when you post or comment on your social channels. Also, don’t even think about bad-mouthing your previous employers, and don’t express overtly radical views.
You can set your privacy settings so that only friends can see the content of your Facebook page. Find out how here:
But if you’re happy for prospective employers to take a look, make sure they’ll find you charming, professional and, of course, highly employable.
Alison Clements

ILSPA publishes an article from specialist recruitment site each month. advertises thousands of the latest legal jobs from leading recruitment agencies and direct employers across the UK. By registering as a jobseeker you can apply for jobs, upload your CV to be seen by employers and sign up to email job alerts.