The research report was released today by the business social network Viadeo.
The survey of more than 2,000 consumers and over 600 employers found that one in five employers have searched for and found personal information about candidates on the web and 59 per cent say it influenced their recruitment decision. A quarter of HR decision-makers have actually rejected applicants, as a result of dubious personal information found online.
Employers gave a variety of reasons for discarding candidates based on their internet reputation, or ‘NetRep’, including a MySpace website showing a negative side to a candidate, excessive alcohol abuse and finding that the candidate was on the local police wanted list.
The report highlights a growing trend, with 31 per cent of people having posted information online, across all age groups, leaving a significant online footprint of personal information across the internet as they use a new generation of websites and services, such as free blogging tools, ‘wikis’ and social networks.
The largest number of respondents placing information online are 18-24 year olds – just under half say they have posted personal information on social websites such as MySpace or Facebook while 17 per cent have also posted material on YouTube.
However, the information found online can also work positively for job applicants. A total of 13 per cent of HR decision makers have been influenced positively by information found online about a candidate, and would not have taken the decision to recruit them otherwise, says the study.
‘These results should act as a wake-up call to anyone who has ever posted personal information online,’ says Peter Cunningham, UK Country Manager at Viadeo. ‘Millions of people are inadvertently contributing to their ‘NetRep’ every day by leaving personal information online, much of which is cached and remains available via search engines even after the author has removed the web page.’