Social networking sites used to check out job applicants

A quarter of employers worldwide are checking social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace for information about job candidates, research has revealed.

The study by talent management consultancy DDI found that 25% of 1,910 job interviewers across the globe, and 12% of employers in the UK, were checking out candidate profiles or photos before deciding whether to interview them.

More than half (52%) of those that did look up prospective employee profiles on such sites admitted they used the information to make hiring decisions.

The news comes just days after Personnel Today reported that employers should encourage their staff to use Facebook and Twitter to help network with their peers.

However, less than a third of 3,523 jobseekers (32%) surveyed by DDI worldwide, and just a quarter (25%) of applicants in the UK, believed that what they put on social networking sites might affect their chances of getting a job.

Steve Newhall, vice-president for Europe at DDI, said: “Interviewers should realise that much of what is put [on Facebook] is for fun, and is unlikely to reflect a candidate’s on-the-job demeanour or performance. It’s difficult to gauge when looking at Facebook-type data if the information is true or has any relevance for the job role in question. A well-planned and conducted selection process will uncover relevant information about candidates’ ability to do the job.”

The 2009 Global Interviewing Practices and Perceptions survey found that German employers were almost twice as likely as any other country to conduct online searches, with 46% reporting they use this technique to make hiring decisions.

The practice of checking social networking sites becomes more prevalent the younger the interviewer. Globally, only 19% of those over 50 checked these sites, compared to 46% of those under 25.

The global survey interviewed 248 employers and 704 jobseekers in the UK.

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