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SHRM Survey Findings: The Use of Social Networking Websites and Online Search Engines in Screening Job CandidatesAugust 23, 2011
2Overall findings: Contrary to popular beliefs, it appears that only a small number of organizations are using online search engines and social networking websites to screen job candidates. The primary reasons for not using these methods are the legal risks, the lack of verifiable data and the lack of the job-relatedness of much of the information found  online. In addition, there is a growing number of companies that have developed or are in the process of developing polices around the use of social networking websites for screening job candidates.
Do organizations use online search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) to screen job candidates? Only slightly more than one-quarter (26%) of organizations indicated that they use online search engines to screen job candidates during the hiring process—a decline from 2008, when 34% reported using online search engines for this purpose.  Conversely, close to two-thirds of organizations (64%) have never used online search engines to screen job candidates or used them in past but no longer do so.
Do organizations use social networking websites (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) to screen job candidates? Only 18% of organizations indicated using social networking websites to screen job candidates during the hiring process; conversely, more than two-thirds of organizations (71%) have never used these websites to screen job candidates or used them in the past but no longer do so.Key Findings
3Do organizations have policies (formal or informal) regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates? Clearly, there has been a significant increase in the prevalence of these types of policies over the past three years. In 2008, 72% of organizations had no formal or informal policies regarding the use of these sites for job screening. Today, this figure has dropped to 56%, and another 29% of organizations plan to implement a formal policy in the next 12 months, up from 11% in 2008.
Why don’t organizations use social networking websites to screen job candidates? Two-thirds (66%) indicate they do not use social networking websites due to the concern about the legal risks/discovering information about protected characteristics (e.g., age, race, gender, religious affiliation), an increase from 54% in 2008. Nearly one-half (48%) of organizations do not use these sites because they cannot verify with confidence the information from a job candidate’s social networking page, an increase from 43% in 2008. Another 45% indicated that the information found on the social networking sites may not be relevant to a candidate’s work-related potential or performance, also an increase from 36% in 2008.
How many organizations disqualify candidates based on information found via an online search engine or social networking websites? Of the small percentage of organizations that use  information from online search engines (26%) or social networking websites (18%) to screen candidates, few have actually used this information to disqualify job candidates. Only 15% of this group indicated that they used online search engine information to disqualify job candidates, while 30% used social networking website information to disqualify job candidates.Key Findings (continued)
Key Findings (continued)What job levels are organizations targeting when using online social networking websites to screen job candidates? Of the small percentage of organizations that use this information in the screening process, less than  one-quarter  of organizations indicated that they “always” (20%) use online social networking websites to screen job candidates when filling an executive/upper-level position and less than one-half (41%) indicated “frequently” using online social networking websites to screen these targeted job levels. This is similar when organizations are in the process in hiring other management  (e.g., directors, managers) positions.  Fewer organizations indicated using social networking websites “always” (16%) or “frequently” (26%) when filling nonmanagement salaried positions.
At what point in the hiring process is information from online search engines and social networking websites used? Of the small percentage of organizations that use these methods for screening, the most commonly reported time for conducting the screening was after the job interview but before the job offer.
Do organizations allow job candidates the opportunity to explain questionable information that was found on social networking websites? Of the small percentage of organizations that use this information in the screening process, more than a quarter (27%) allow job candidates the opportunity to explain questionable information.4
5Has your organization used online search engines to screen job candidates at any point in the hiring process, or does it plan to do so? Close to two-thirds of organizations (64%) have never used online search engines to screen job candidates or used them in the past but no longer do so. Only 26% of organizations indicated using online search engines to screen job candidates during the hiring process—a decline from 2008, when 34% reported using online search engines for this purpose.Note: Respondents who answered “don’t know” were excluded from this analysis. Total does not equal 100% due to rounding.
6Has your organization used social networking websites to screen job candidates at any point in the hiring process, or does it plan to do so? More than two-thirds of organizations (71%) have never used social networking websites to screen job candidates or used them in the past but no longer do so.  Only 18% of organizations indicated using social networking websites to screen job candidates during the hiring process. (n = 441)(n = 388)Note: Respondents who answered “don’t know” were excluded from this analysis.
7Has your organization used social networking websites to screen job candidates at any point in the hiring process or does it plan to do so? Comparison by Organization SectorNonprofit organizations and government agencies are more likely to report not using social networking websites to screen job candidates compared with privately owned for-profit organizations and  publicly owned for-profit organizations.  Percentage of organizations that do not use social networking websites to screen job candidates
8Does your organization currently have a formal or an informal policy regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates? In 2008, 72% of organizations had no formal or informal policies in place. Today, only 56% have no formal or informal policies in place. n = 531
9Does your organization currently have a formal or an informal policy regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates? Comparison by Organization Staff SizeCompared with smaller organizations, large organizations (more than 25,000 employees) are more likely to have either a formal or an informal policy regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates.Large organizations(More than 25,000 employees)Smaller  organizations(Fewer than 25,000 employees)>
10Does your organization plan to implement a formal policy regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates within the next 12 months? (n = 241)(n = 208)29% of organizations plan to implement a formal policy in the next 12 months, an increase from 11% in 2008.Note: Only organizations that do not currently have a formal policy regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates were asked this question.
11Why does your organization not use social networking websites to screen job candidates? Most common reasons organization do not use social websites for screening.Note: Only organizations that do not use social networking websites to screen job candidates were asked this question. Totals do not equal 100% due to multiple responses. * Indicates response option was not available in 2008.
12Why does your organization use social networking websites to screen job candidates?From the 18% of organization that claim to use social networking websites for screeningNote:  Only organizations that do use social networking websites to screen job candidates were asked this question. Total does not equal 100% due to multiple response options. * Indicates response option was not available.
How often do organizations use online social networking websites to screen job candidates at any point in the hiring process for the targeted job levels?  13Most frequently targeted job levelsNote: Only organizations that use social networking websites to screen job candidates at any point in the hiring process were asked this question. Total may not equal 100% due to rounding.
14In the past 12 months, has your organization disqualified a job candidate because of information found:  Of the few organizations that do use information from online search engines (18%) or social networking websites (26%) to screen candidates, few used this information to disqualify candidates.  Note: Only organizations that have used social networking websites or online search engines to screen job candidates were asked this question. Respondents who answered “don’t know” were excluded from this analysis.
15When does your organization initiate screening of job candidates using online search engines? Note: n = 110.  Only organizations that use online search engines for screening job candidates were asked this question. This question was not asked in 2008, therefore, no comparison data are available. Total does not equal 100% due to rounding.
16When does your organization initiate screening of job candidates using social networking websites? The most frequently reported time for using online search engines and/or social networking websites for screening a candidate is after the job interview but before the job offer (35%).  (n = 80)(n = 51)Note: Only organizations that use social networking websites for screening job candidates were asked this question.  *This response option was not available in 2008.  The total for the 2008  data does not equal 100% due to the response option “prior to actually contacting the applicant for the first time” being eliminated from this figure because the option was not offered in 2011.
17Does your organization allow job candidates the opportunity to explain questionable information that was found on social networking websites? Note: n = 80. Only organizations that use social networking websites to screen job candidates were asked this question.
18The most common social networking websites organizations use to screen job candidates Note: n = 80. Only organizations that use social networking websites to screen job candidates were asked this question. Total  does not equal 100% due to multiple response options.
19 How often do job candidates include their social networking websites on their resumes? n = 515

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Part 2 social networking and online searches for screening job candidates final

  • 1. SHRM Survey Findings: The Use of Social Networking Websites and Online Search Engines in Screening Job CandidatesAugust 23, 2011
  • 2. 2Overall findings: Contrary to popular beliefs, it appears that only a small number of organizations are using online search engines and social networking websites to screen job candidates. The primary reasons for not using these methods are the legal risks, the lack of verifiable data and the lack of the job-relatedness of much of the information found online. In addition, there is a growing number of companies that have developed or are in the process of developing polices around the use of social networking websites for screening job candidates.
  • 3. Do organizations use online search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) to screen job candidates? Only slightly more than one-quarter (26%) of organizations indicated that they use online search engines to screen job candidates during the hiring process—a decline from 2008, when 34% reported using online search engines for this purpose. Conversely, close to two-thirds of organizations (64%) have never used online search engines to screen job candidates or used them in past but no longer do so.
  • 4. Do organizations use social networking websites (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) to screen job candidates? Only 18% of organizations indicated using social networking websites to screen job candidates during the hiring process; conversely, more than two-thirds of organizations (71%) have never used these websites to screen job candidates or used them in the past but no longer do so.Key Findings
  • 5. 3Do organizations have policies (formal or informal) regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates? Clearly, there has been a significant increase in the prevalence of these types of policies over the past three years. In 2008, 72% of organizations had no formal or informal policies regarding the use of these sites for job screening. Today, this figure has dropped to 56%, and another 29% of organizations plan to implement a formal policy in the next 12 months, up from 11% in 2008.
  • 6. Why don’t organizations use social networking websites to screen job candidates? Two-thirds (66%) indicate they do not use social networking websites due to the concern about the legal risks/discovering information about protected characteristics (e.g., age, race, gender, religious affiliation), an increase from 54% in 2008. Nearly one-half (48%) of organizations do not use these sites because they cannot verify with confidence the information from a job candidate’s social networking page, an increase from 43% in 2008. Another 45% indicated that the information found on the social networking sites may not be relevant to a candidate’s work-related potential or performance, also an increase from 36% in 2008.
  • 7. How many organizations disqualify candidates based on information found via an online search engine or social networking websites? Of the small percentage of organizations that use information from online search engines (26%) or social networking websites (18%) to screen candidates, few have actually used this information to disqualify job candidates. Only 15% of this group indicated that they used online search engine information to disqualify job candidates, while 30% used social networking website information to disqualify job candidates.Key Findings (continued)
  • 8. Key Findings (continued)What job levels are organizations targeting when using online social networking websites to screen job candidates? Of the small percentage of organizations that use this information in the screening process, less than one-quarter of organizations indicated that they “always” (20%) use online social networking websites to screen job candidates when filling an executive/upper-level position and less than one-half (41%) indicated “frequently” using online social networking websites to screen these targeted job levels. This is similar when organizations are in the process in hiring other management (e.g., directors, managers) positions. Fewer organizations indicated using social networking websites “always” (16%) or “frequently” (26%) when filling nonmanagement salaried positions.
  • 9. At what point in the hiring process is information from online search engines and social networking websites used? Of the small percentage of organizations that use these methods for screening, the most commonly reported time for conducting the screening was after the job interview but before the job offer.
  • 10. Do organizations allow job candidates the opportunity to explain questionable information that was found on social networking websites? Of the small percentage of organizations that use this information in the screening process, more than a quarter (27%) allow job candidates the opportunity to explain questionable information.4
  • 11. 5Has your organization used online search engines to screen job candidates at any point in the hiring process, or does it plan to do so? Close to two-thirds of organizations (64%) have never used online search engines to screen job candidates or used them in the past but no longer do so. Only 26% of organizations indicated using online search engines to screen job candidates during the hiring process—a decline from 2008, when 34% reported using online search engines for this purpose.Note: Respondents who answered “don’t know” were excluded from this analysis. Total does not equal 100% due to rounding.
  • 12. 6Has your organization used social networking websites to screen job candidates at any point in the hiring process, or does it plan to do so? More than two-thirds of organizations (71%) have never used social networking websites to screen job candidates or used them in the past but no longer do so. Only 18% of organizations indicated using social networking websites to screen job candidates during the hiring process. (n = 441)(n = 388)Note: Respondents who answered “don’t know” were excluded from this analysis.
  • 13. 7Has your organization used social networking websites to screen job candidates at any point in the hiring process or does it plan to do so? Comparison by Organization SectorNonprofit organizations and government agencies are more likely to report not using social networking websites to screen job candidates compared with privately owned for-profit organizations and publicly owned for-profit organizations. Percentage of organizations that do not use social networking websites to screen job candidates
  • 14. 8Does your organization currently have a formal or an informal policy regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates? In 2008, 72% of organizations had no formal or informal policies in place. Today, only 56% have no formal or informal policies in place. n = 531
  • 15. 9Does your organization currently have a formal or an informal policy regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates? Comparison by Organization Staff SizeCompared with smaller organizations, large organizations (more than 25,000 employees) are more likely to have either a formal or an informal policy regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates.Large organizations(More than 25,000 employees)Smaller organizations(Fewer than 25,000 employees)>
  • 16. 10Does your organization plan to implement a formal policy regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates within the next 12 months? (n = 241)(n = 208)29% of organizations plan to implement a formal policy in the next 12 months, an increase from 11% in 2008.Note: Only organizations that do not currently have a formal policy regarding the use of social networking websites to screen job candidates were asked this question.
  • 17. 11Why does your organization not use social networking websites to screen job candidates? Most common reasons organization do not use social websites for screening.Note: Only organizations that do not use social networking websites to screen job candidates were asked this question. Totals do not equal 100% due to multiple responses. * Indicates response option was not available in 2008.
  • 18. 12Why does your organization use social networking websites to screen job candidates?From the 18% of organization that claim to use social networking websites for screeningNote: Only organizations that do use social networking websites to screen job candidates were asked this question. Total does not equal 100% due to multiple response options. * Indicates response option was not available.
  • 19. How often do organizations use online social networking websites to screen job candidates at any point in the hiring process for the targeted job levels? 13Most frequently targeted job levelsNote: Only organizations that use social networking websites to screen job candidates at any point in the hiring process were asked this question. Total may not equal 100% due to rounding.
  • 20. 14In the past 12 months, has your organization disqualified a job candidate because of information found: Of the few organizations that do use information from online search engines (18%) or social networking websites (26%) to screen candidates, few used this information to disqualify candidates. Note: Only organizations that have used social networking websites or online search engines to screen job candidates were asked this question. Respondents who answered “don’t know” were excluded from this analysis.
  • 21. 15When does your organization initiate screening of job candidates using online search engines? Note: n = 110. Only organizations that use online search engines for screening job candidates were asked this question. This question was not asked in 2008, therefore, no comparison data are available. Total does not equal 100% due to rounding.
  • 22. 16When does your organization initiate screening of job candidates using social networking websites? The most frequently reported time for using online search engines and/or social networking websites for screening a candidate is after the job interview but before the job offer (35%). (n = 80)(n = 51)Note: Only organizations that use social networking websites for screening job candidates were asked this question. *This response option was not available in 2008. The total for the 2008 data does not equal 100% due to the response option “prior to actually contacting the applicant for the first time” being eliminated from this figure because the option was not offered in 2011.
  • 23. 17Does your organization allow job candidates the opportunity to explain questionable information that was found on social networking websites? Note: n = 80. Only organizations that use social networking websites to screen job candidates were asked this question.
  • 24. 18The most common social networking websites organizations use to screen job candidates Note: n = 80. Only organizations that use social networking websites to screen job candidates were asked this question. Total does not equal 100% due to multiple response options.
  • 25. 19 How often do job candidates include their social networking websites on their resumes? n = 515
  • 26. Demographics: Organization Industry20Note: n = 539. Total does not equal 100% due to rounding.
  • 27. Demographics: Organization Industry (continued) 21Note: n = 539. Total does not equal 100% due to rounding.
  • 29. Demographics: Organization Staff Size23Note: n = 508. Total does not equal 100% due to rounding.
  • 30. 24Demographics: OtherIs your organization a single-unit company or a multi-unit company?Does the organization have U.S.-based operations (business units) only or does it operate multinationally?n = 530n = 541Are HR policies and practices determined by the multi-unit corporate headquarters, by each work location or both? 19% of organizations indicated that employees at their work location were unionized.n = 541Note: n = 374. Total does not equal 100% due to rounding.
  • 31. 25SHRM Survey Findings: The Use of Social Networking Websites and Online Search Engines in Screening Job CandidatesMethodologyResponse rate = 18%
  • 32. Sample consists of 541 randomly selected HR professionals with the job function of recruiting/staffing.
  • 33. Margin of error is +/- 4%
  • 34. Survey fielded December 17, 2010, to February 1, 2011
  • 35. 2008 data taken from SHRM Staffing Research: Online Technologies and Their Impact on Recruitment Strategies (2008, July–September)For more poll findings, visit: www.shrm.org/surveysFollow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SHRM_Research