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Who’s stalking who? Social media in recruitment

Most employers say they check out job applicants on social media but new research finds that one in five job candidates also “stalks” prospective employers online.

Research by Digimax has found that social media searches work both ways in recruitment, with 22% of job candidates confessing they have checked out their interviewers on social media.

Job-hunters are frequently warned about managing their online reputation, with 73% of employers searching applicants’ social media accounts prior to interviews or making job offers.

Social media - and LinkedIn in particular - is already an important recruitment tool, with 68% of people looking for work using it to find job opportunities.

However, the findings show that 48% of job applicants also use social media for general interview preparation. In addition, 18% say that they use social media to check out an interviewer’s work background and 24% search for hobbies and common interests to discuss at interview in order to impress individual employers.

And it seems that employers are making it easy for applicants to dig around for information, with 21% saying that they can’t remember the last time they checked or adjusted privacy settings on their social accounts.

Candidates are more savvy about privacy - 47% say they regularly check their privacy settings and 15% even deactivate their Facebook accounts when they are hunting for a new job. A further 17% of candidates say that they have regretted a post and removed it during job searches.

Interestingly, employers looking online are more interested in grammar and spelling than controversial posts, according to the research. The vast majority (82%) are interested in their candidate’s ability to correctly use grammar and 59% check spelling. Only 32% say they are looking for inappropriate content, such as drug references.

Shaz Memon, creative director at Digimax, said: “It’s interesting to see all the different ways in which social media is now being used in and around employment practices. Not so long ago, Facebook and Twitter were only really considered tools for employers looking to get the low-down on their candidates, but now the tables are turning.

“It’s really encouraging to see that people are learning lessons and protecting themselves against potential discrimination by ensuring that their privacy settings are up to scratch. Now, it seems, that employers need to do the same.”