A huge 41% of UK HR professionals have rejected potential job candidates because of information they found out about them online, according to a new study.
But the figure contrasts markedly with the mere 9% of consumers who believe that internet-based data has any impact on their job prospects.
Although such a finding appears to indicate that applicants significantly underestimate the amount of online research that employers undertake nowadays, in reality, a huge 48% of UK respondents said that their companies have formal policies in place requiring them to research the background of applicants online.
Bizarrely, however, it appears that men are nearly twice as likely as women to undertake reputational searches on the internet. A huge 56% of males confessed that they undertook the activity routinely compared with only 32% of females.
As to what information was most likely to turn HR professionals off, top of the list were inappropriate comments and text written by the candidate (57%). Second came unsuitable photos, videos and information (51%), followed by concerns about an applicant’s lifestyle (45%).
Nonetheless, a massive 80% of those questioned indicated that they were concerned about the accuracy of the information that they uncovered, although only 68% bothered to check it. Some 66% of them did tell applicants that online content was a factor in their rejection, however.
And it appears that the trend towards internet-based searching is only set to continue. Just over two thirds of respondents indicated that the use of online reputational data would increase over the next five years, despite the fact that it was likely to be unethical or even illegal to ask candidates to provide such information themselves.
The poll was undertaken among 275 recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers in the UK, US, France and Germany by Cross-Tab in December last year. It was commissioned by Microsoft.