If you’ve been tempted to take a sneak peek at potential employees by surfing social networking sites, you’re not alone. Many employers are now using this technique to weed out potential candidates based on their social network presence, according to research presented at this year’s annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).
In a separate survey by Microsoft, 79 percent of U.S. corporate recruiters and hiring officials regularly went on-line to check out potential new-hires.
That first glance at a potential employeeâs Facebook page now has a name, too. It’s called an “e-impression," according to Angela Farabee, a graduate student and Therese Macan, a professor, both at University of Missouri-St. Louis. An e-impression is defined as “the impression of an individual that develops based on information obtained through available online resources,” according to Farabee, who coined the term. These resources include search engines as well as social networking sites , Farabee said. e-impressions can be formed through both information an individual can control and information that is beyond the individual's influence.
“Therefore, an e-impression does not necessarily include accurate information,” Farabee added.
The research revealed that candidates with Facebook profiles that contained "negative" information were rated significantly lower than those with positive or private profiles and were less likely to be offered jobs even if their resumes and interviews were considered to be as good as the competition.
With the prospect of employers examining potential applicants’ Internet information, it may be surprising what information people are making public, a SIOP press release said. Recent studies of Facebook have found that almost half of the comments made involve partying or had photos that were alcohol related, 20 percent incorporated sexual activity, 25 percent included semi-nude or provocative photos, and 50 percent used profanity. Researchers also discovered that 25 percent of users’ wall posts included derogatory information about employers. This type of negative profile content can cost a job applicant a potential interview, according to Farabee.