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Jan 2, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Editor’s NoteIt’s a TLNT holiday tradition to count down the most popular posts of the year. This is No. 6. Our regular content will return next Monday.

CareerBuilder does a lot of surveys. Some of them are fun and some are silly, but sometimes, they have one that reveals something that makes you sit up and pay attention.

This is one of those attention-getting ones.

According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, more than half of all employers (51 percent) who use social media for background information on potential employees are finding things that cause them to NOT hire the candidate, and that is up from 43 percent last year and 34 percent in 2012.

Social media faux pas hurting more and more candidates

Yes, you read that right: the number of employers that pass on job candidates because of something they found about them on social media is sharply rising.

What makes this even more troubling is that more and more employers are turning to social media as a source of information on job candidates, with 43 percent using these sites for background checks, up from 39 percent last year and 36 percent in 2012.

In other words, all the stuff you’ve heard about how stuff posted on social media can come back to bite you is true — and is damaging more and more job candidates every year.

“It’s important for job seekers to remember that much of what they post to the Internet – and in some cases what others post about them – can be found by potential employers, and that can effect their chances of getting hired down the road,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, in a press release about the survey.

She added: “Job seekers need to stay vigilant, and pay attention to privacy updates from all of their social networking accounts so they know what information is out there for others to see. Take control of your web presence by limiting who can post to your profile and monitoring posts you’ve been tagged in.”

Employers don’t just utilize social networks when it comes to researching job candidates’ on the Internet. Some 45 percent of employers use search engines such as Google for research, with 20 percent saying they do so frequently or always. Additionally, 12 percent of employers say they’ve reviewed a potential job candidate’s posts or comment on rating sites such as, or other ratings sites.

What employers are finding online

If people haven’t gotten the message that what they put up on social media can come back to bite them big time, maybe they’ll get it now.

So, just what was it that employers are finding on social media sites that makes them decide to pass on a job candidate? CareerBuilder listed the most common ones:

  • Job candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 46 percent;
  • Job candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs – 41 percent;
  • Job candidates bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee – 36 percent;
  • Job candidate showed poor communication skills – 32 percent;
  • Job candidate posted discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion etc. – 28 percent;
  • Job candidate lied about qualifications – 25 percent;
  • Job candidate shared confidential information from previous employers – 24 percent;
  • Job candidate was linked to criminal behavior – 22 percent;
  • Job candidate’s screen name was unprofessional – 21 percent;
  • Job candidate lied about an absence – 13 percent.

Some employers finding good information, too

There is a bit of good news in this survey, however: one-third (33 percent) of employers who research candidates on social networking sites said they found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate. What’s more, nearly a quarter (23 percent) found content that directly led to them hiring the candidate, up from 19 percent last year.

The CareerBuilder survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from Feb. 10 to March 4, 2014, included a representative sample of 2,138 hiring managers and HR professionals, and a representative sample 3,022 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.