Three in four Singapore hirers use online channels to snoop on candidates

By: Alythea Ho

Had a bad case of Monday blues? Hold back that angry tweet or Facebook rant about your boss first.

An employer survey by JobsCentral found that 75% of managers and hirers use online channels to snoop on job candidates. Of these, one in three say they prefer using social media sites like LinkedIn (38%) and Facebook (34%). Search engines ranked third at 28 per cent.

While traditional background checks have always been practised by employers to ascertain candidate credibility, these online checks reveal potential deal breakers more easily and quickly. Three out of five (64%) of employers reported they would reject an application if they discover online that a candidate was not truthful. Over half (57%) would take note whether a candidate bad-mouthed their employer or colleagues online. Just 14 per cent expressed concerns over an unprofessional screen or nick name.

“By looking up their candidates’ social media foot-prints, employers are merely using another tool towards the same purpose of ensuring the best hiring decision possible,” says Michelle Lim, Chief Operating Officer of JobsCentral Group, a CareerBuilder company.

Hirers cited multiple reasons for rejecting a candidate after performing an online background check:

• Candidate shared confidential information about previous employers – 58 per cent
• Candidate appeared to discriminate against a certain race, gender or religion – 43 per cent
• Candidate was linked to criminal behavior – 43 per cent
• Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs – 42 per cent
• Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 37 per cent
• Candidate had poor communication skills – 33 per cent

“While job-seekers may find it unfair that their personal life is being dragged into the hiring equation, rather than bemoan the loss of privacy, it would be better to exercise good judgment in all social media engagement and make an effort to utilise available privacy settings. That is basically the reality of living in an internet age,” adds Michelle.

For the survey report, jump here.

If you’re a job seeker, here are some tips to remember to help improve your online credibility:

1) Mind your social media settings.
There’s a saying ‘The Internet isn’t written in Pencil; it’s written in Ink.” Check your settings to see if you’ve made private information and/or posts public. Alternatively, you can consider keeping separate online profiles – one for personal use (e.g. under a pseudonym), the other for professional purposes.

2) Stop lying
As TV journalist Lisa Ling once said, “Facebook (or social media) is the life that we want people to believe we lead.” Did you tell your hirer you’re a supportive team player, but frequently blog about how miserable it is working with your team? Try creating content that is honest and yet reflective of your personal aspirations and traits. As with any professional social networking situations, the world is smaller than we like to think.

3) Adopt a professional mindset towards online media
Social media platforms aren’t just places for personal expressions; they’re great tools for connecting with employers and potential colleagues. Spend one to two hours a day looking for opportunities – and of course, make sure your online presence is as current and appropriate.

What do you think of hirers checking your online profiles? Share with us in the comment box below!

The JobsCentral Group, a CareerBuilder company, is the owner of, one of Singapore's largest job and learning portals. Get a free career personality test and more career- and education-related articles at JobsCentral and JobsCentral Community. Alternatively, Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter for more career-centric content!

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