Nearly half of US employers research the online profiles of job candidates on social networks such as Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn, according to a new survey.
Forty-five per cent of the employers surveyed for CareerBuilder.com, the largest US online job site, said they use social networking sites to check on job candidates, up from just 22 percent in a survey conducted last year.
Another 11 percent said they plan to start using social networking sites for screening.
It said job seekers should "be mindful of the information they post online."
CareerBuilder said that of those who conduct online searches as background checks on job candidates, 29 per cent use Facebook, 26 per cent use LinkedIn and 21 per cent use MySpace.
Eleven per cent search blogs while seven per cent follow candidates on micro-blogging service Twitter.
Thirty-five per cent of those surveyed said they have found content on a social network that caused them not to hire a candidate, CareerBuilder said.
Examples included "provocative or inappropriate photographs or information" or content about drinking or using drugs.
Other reasons cited were badmouthing a previous employer, co-workers or clients, poor communication skills, making discriminatory comments, lying about qualifications or sharing confidential information from a previous employer. Information found on social networking profiles was not always a negative factor in finding a job.
Eighteen percent of employers said they have found content on social networking sites that caused them to hire the candidate, CareerBuilder said.
Some profiles "provided a good feel for the candidate?s personality" or supported their professional qualifications while others demonstrated creativity or solid communication skills.
Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, recommended that candidates "clean up digital dirt" before beginning a job search by removing photos, content and links which could hurt their chances.