This is almost certainly good news as there has rarely been any positive bulletins in terms of employment in four years. Since then however, a lot in the world has changed, including the way in which we use social media.

Back then, just before the financial crises in October 2008, people still used Myspace, Facebook had roughly 100,000,000 users (compared to today's 1 billion), and LinkedIn, after five years of activity, was still a fledgling in the social world.

Another change is the amount of time that we actually used social media in our daily lives. Today, according to the Daily Telegraph, the average Briton spends 15 hours a week on the internet, a fifty per cent increase from 2005.

Whereas social media was once used to plan the weekends, it is now used almost in everyday life; so much so that according to the quality and content of our profile pages, sites like Facebook can also have an effect on the jobs in which we attain.

In a recent study conducted by Computers in Personnel who provide HR Software, they interviewed 300 employers to find out who screened possible candidates through the medium of social media.

Interestingly, and perhaps harrowingly for some, the survey found that 91% of the employers interviewed used social media to screen applicants:

  • 91% used Facebook
  • 53% used Twitter
  • 48% used Linkedin

It is also interesting to consider that LinkedIn, the professional network, is the one that is least used by employers.

Despite this, the study also went into depth about what the employers thought of the accounts that they had viewed. From those that did screen via social media, the study found that a total of 61% of the employers had actually rejected candidates because of what they saw. The reasons of this varied considerably:

  • 13% found that the candidate had lied about their qualifications
  • 11% found inappropriate comments and photographs
  • 10% found discriminating comments and drug references
  • 7% were able to read confidential information about previous employment.

Although those figures may sound particularly disparaging, especially if you are currently looking for a job, the study also found that 68% of employers had also hired on the basis of what they found on the social networks:

  • 39% hired because they liked the candidate's personality
  • 36% found a match between the candidate's qualifications; the same percentage hired because of the creativity shown on the profiles.
  • 34% hired because the person showed good references
  • 24% hired because they found hidden awards or qualifications on a candidate's profile.

At a time where any old job would do, it is a disturbing thought to realise that you could actually be rejected for a job for a tweet that you potentially sent out over a year ago.

Considering too that 4% of employers would check a person's profile just minutes before making an employment offer, having the right privacy settings on your facebook could prove crucial to your career prospects.