Be Careful What You Share on Social Media Sites; It Could Cost you a Job

According to a recent survey commissioned by and conducted by research firm Harris Interactive, almost half of the 2667 HR professionals surveyed use social networking sites to research job candidates, with an additional 11% planning to implement social media screening in the very near future.  According to the study,  “thirty-five percent of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate.”

Here are some of the worst things you can have on your site and how employers responded:

  • Provocative photos.  53% of employers wont hire you
  • Shared content with alcohol and drugs.  44 % rejected candidates for this reason.
  • Bad-mouthing your former employer.  35% reported this as the main reason they didn’t hire a candidate.
  • 14% of those surveyed cited the use of emoticons (in direct communication with them) as the main reason  for rejection.

What many people may not realize is that everything they put on social media can be archived by third parties for up to seven years, for the explicit purpose of background checks — even if the individual has deleted the content in question from his or her own account.

Just this summer the Federal Trade Commission dropped its  investigation of a year-old  startup company called Social Intelligence Corp. that scours social media and Internet sites for dirt on employees and job applicants.  The FTC determined that Social Intelligence Corp. was operating within the bounds of the law when it created “cached” archives of social media profiles for review by employers, including potentially damaging photos and statements.

Regardless of whether you are currently employed or currently searching for a job, it is a good idea to be careful what you publicize online.  Here are a few tips to consider:

  • If it’s online, consider it public information
  • Your Internet persona stays with you forever
  • Tighten up your security on your social media sites.  The collectors of information for employers do not penetrate your security controls.
  • Keep personal information private.

Gathering information from online accounts is here to stay, so the savvy employee will beware and be careful to vent about one’s job in the real world…at home behind closed doors.


Terry is the business librarian. You can email her ( your questions or schedule a one-on-one session to discuss business needs, from market research to competitor analysis. She also coordinates with community partners to host small business and personal finance events at the library. Terry has an MBA and an MLS.