Study suggests job applicants put off by social media background checks

Posted by Kristina Taylor
July 16, 2012

Study suggests job applicants put off by social media background checks

Employers who are beginning to use social media as part of their background check process might be opening themselves up to a negative impression – and even job offer rejection – by prospective employees.

That’s according to research from a study on the effects of social network screening in the workplace conducted by researchers out of North Carolina State University. The study, which was presented at a recent Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology conference, found that social media background screening actually reduces an organization’s attractiveness for the job applicant and incumbent worker.

According to the study, 175 students applied for a fictitious temporary job they believed to be real and were later informed they were screened. Applicants were less willing to take a job offer after being screened, perceiving the action to reflect on the organization’s fairness and treatment of employees based on a post-study questionnaire. They also felt their privacy was invaded.

The use of social media background checks is becoming more popular among employers. While this study doesn’t suggest employers not be completely candid and transparent about the use of such employment screening methods, it should cause some discussion about whether the tactic is worth the payoff.

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