Survey: 34% of employers reprimanded or fired someone over online content

Getting busted for inappropriate social media posts is nothing new, but it’s certainly still relevant across industries.

Take filmmaker James Gunn, who Disney fired while was working on the film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, due to old tweets joking “about controversial topics such as pedophilia and rape” that recently came to light again, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Gunn has since apologized, but his firing reportedly caused an upheaval among the cast members who don’t think Disney made the right move for a variety of reasons. Deadline reported yesterday that Gunn may be brought back on the project, according to “sources.”

A similar PR crisis also bubbled over at The New York Times recently, where writer Sarah Jeong was brought onto the editorial board. However, after old tweets surfaced, both she and the publication released explanatory statements. She has not been fired from the position.

All of this is why it isn’t surprising that recent data from CareerBuilder shows that 34% of companies saw something on the internet that made them “reprimand or fire an employee.”

But when companies look up job applicants online beforehand, the top thing they look for is “information that supports their qualifications for the job” at 58%. What for they’re looking for the least is “a reason not to hire” at 22%.

The Harris Poll surveyed 1,012 American “hiring and human resource managers” who are working full-time, but not for the government or themselves, for CareerBuilder.

Social media decisions that have helped job applicants score positions

The most popular thing these managers found on social media that made them employ a candidate was that their “background information supported their professional qualifications for the job” at 37%.

Here are just a few of the other positive things job applicants did online: having a website that “conveyed a professional image” at 33%, showing off their “great communications skills” at 28%, and having “great references” from others at 23%. The least popular response was that they saw that the applicant “had a large number of followers or subscribers” at 18%.

But while 70% of companies say they look up job candidates on social media, 57% in that pool saw something that made them chuck an application in the rejection pile.

What employers don’t like about candidates’ social media accounts

Here are some of the reasons why applicants got rejected for jobs.

The most popular one was “provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information” at 40%. Thirty-six percent saw something related to alcohol “or using drugs,” and 31% saw “discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc.” at 31%.

Twenty-seven percent also caught candidates in a lie about their credentials, and 22% said that their “screen name was unprofessional.” Twenty percent saw that the applicant had “shared confidential information from” places they used to work. The least popular reason was that the applicant “posted too frequently” at 12%.

While you should be careful about what you post online for a variety of reasons, it’s also important to be on social media in the first place: 47% of companies reported “that if they can’t find a job candidate online, they are less likely to call that person in for an interview.”