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9/22/13 - Social media manners matter, job recruiters say

Benny Evangelista

Are you on Facebook talking about guns, alcohol or drugs? Do you tweet obscenities or show a lack of spelling skills on Google+? Do you post sexy photos of yourself on Instagram?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you have increased your chances of blowing a good job opportunity in the future, according to a study released Thursday.

In fact, about 42 percent of job recruiters said they have reconsidered a job applicant, in both positive and negative ways, based on what they saw on the candidate's social networks, according to a survey by Burlingame's Jobvite, a job recruiting platform. With so many people sharing information online, recruiters have an easy time scouring all forms of social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, GitHub, Vimeo, Xing, Yammer and Stack Overflow. "They can't help but try to find any information about you online before they hire you," said Jobvite CEO Dan Finnigan.

Practice spreading
Human resource departments relying on social media to check out candidates has been a growing trend for years. But this year's sixth annual Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey showed just how ubiquitous a tool social networking has become - it's now used by 94 percent of recruiting and human resources workers.

And 78 percent of them said they have made a hire through social media. The practice has spread across industries around the country, not just tech industries in the Bay Area or just on the West and East coasts, Finnigan said.

One reason it's become so popular is cost. About 43 percent of recruiters said they spent less than $1,000 a month on social recruiting, but 60 percent said the value of using those channels was worth more than $20,000 a year to their organizations. And about one-fifth put that value at $90,000 per year.

And instead of hiring someone to check backgrounds of candidates, HR workers can just Google them. Finnigan said Jobvite customers report the interview process is shorter for employees who are referred through social networks, and if hired they stay on the job longer.

LinkedIn has become the dominant tool used by employers, with 92 percent saying they have hired through the professional social network. "Recruiters are using LinkedIn as the substitute for what they used to do on job boards, which is to search for candidates and post for jobs," Finnigan said.

Fitting into firm
But 24 percent said they have also hired through Facebook and 14 percent through Twitter.

Recruiters find that social profiles give them a better sense of whether the candidate will be a cultural and professional fit for their organizations. They typically use LinkedIn to see the candidate's professional resume and Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more of a snapshot of what the person is like.

So job seekers need to make sure they present themselves properly on social media, because that next great job might be just a click away. "You can't wish for the old days, and go to the big newspapers or the job boards and presume the best jobs are there," Finnigan said.

Still, there is a constant stream of news reports about people who tweet before they think, like the University of Iowa football fan who tried to rush the field last weekend, was arrested and blew a mind-boggling 0.341 on the breathalyzer. She became an instant Internet sensation when she told the world of her arrest on Twitter.

According to the Jobvite survey, which was conducted in July and involved more than 1,600 recruiting and human resources workers, 47 percent reacted negatively when they found pictures of alcohol consumption on a job candidate's social networks.

Good grammar crucial
And it gets worse from there. About 51 percent reacted negatively when they found references to guns. And 61 percent reacted poorly to spelling and grammatical errors. Other negatives:

Profanity - 65 percent reacted negatively.

Posts or tweets of a sexual nature - 71 percent (although curiously, 4 percent reacted positively).

References to using illegal drugs - 83 percent.

Interestingly, posts or tweets about politics and religion - two normally hot-button topics - garnered a neutral reaction from job recruiters.

Benny Evangelista is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.