In the United States and U.K., recruiters and HR professionals surveyed are likely to research candidate behavior online and report markedly high rates of candidate rejections based on their findings. Comparatively, only 7% of U.S. consumers surveyed believe information about them online affected their job search, while 70%% of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals have rejected candidates based on information they found online.
This study explores the attitudes of consumers, HR professionals, and recruiters on the subject of online reputation. Highlights of the study's findings include:
From the consumer viewpoint:
Of the U.S. recruiters and HR professionals surveyed, 75% report that their companies have formal policies in place that require hiring personnel to research applicants online, and 79% of U.S. recruiters check on online reputational data. In the U.S. 86% of male recruiters and HR professionals review online reputational data, though only 61% of women do so.
In the United States, 89% of recruiters and HR professionals surveyed find it appropriate to consider professional online data when assessing a candidate; 84% of them think it is proper to consider personal data posted online.
There are noteworthy differences between the types of sites that consumers surveyed think are appropriate for recruiters and HR professionals to examine and the types chosen to investigate.
Areas of online information that stir the most controversy among respondents in the United States when reviewed by recruiters and HR professionals for reputational information include:
Yet on average one in four U.S. recruiters and HR professionals surveyed reviewed these sites for applicant information. In fact, online searches by recruiters and HR professionals are so prevalent in the United States that only 2% of those surveyed did not research any of the types of sites listed in the table below.
Percent Of Recruiters And HR Professionals Who Use These Types Of Sites When Researching Applicants
% Professionals Using
Social networking sites
Photo and video sharing sites
Professional and business networking sites
Personal Web sites
News sharing sites (e.g. Twitter)
Online forums and communities
Virtual world sites
Web sites that aggregate personal information
Online gaming sites
Professional background checking services
Classifieds and auction sites
None of these
Source: Microsoft, February 2010
Concerns about lifestyle, inappropriate comments, and unsuitable photos and videos top the list of reasons that those surveyed give for rejecting a candidate. But they also rejected applicants because of inappropriate comments by friends, family, and colleagues, or based on membership in certain groups.
U.S. Recruiters and HR Professionals Reasons for Candidate Rejection
% of Respondents Selecting Reason
Concerns about the candidate's lifestyle
Inappropriate comments and text written by the candidate
Unsuitable photos , videos, and information
Inappropriate comments or text written by friends and relatives
Comments criticizing previous employers, co-workers, or clients
Inappropriate comments or text written by colleagues or work acquaintances
Membership in certain groups and networks
Discovered that information the candidate shared was false
Poor communication skills displayed online
Concern about the candidate's financial background
Source: Microsoft, February 2010
The good news for applicants is that creating a strong, positive personal brand online can have a positive impact on their applications. In the United States, 86% of human resources professionals surveyed stated that a positive online reputation influences the candidate's application to some extent; almost half stated that it does so to a great extent.
Though nearly 70% of respondents from each country reported they had not posted content (including text, video or photos) in the last six months they came to regret, only 39% of U.S. males and 54% of U.S. women said they always considered their online reputation when posting Web content.
Finally, of particular concern is the depth and breadth of information that recruiters are seeking about candidates. Traditionally, recruiters have had clear restrictions on the types of information they can ask candidates. This included restrictions on asking about their families, their affiliation to religious, political or other groups, their financial situation, medical condition, and so on.
Now, recruiters can easily and anonymously collect information that they would not be permitted to ask in an interview, and the survey found that recruiters are doing just that.
For more information, including charts, please visit Microsoft Data here.