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I had an interesting article shared with me by USAA's Executive Director of Community and Collaboration, Augie Ray, which sparked some interesting conversations.

The article claimed that, 91% of recruiters use social media sites to screen applicants & 69% have rejected a candidate based on material posted.

I reached out to my friend and Business & Career Consultant Curtis Cunningham to weigh-in on this. He's placed career candidates in several Fortune 500 companies and owns Cunningham Sales Consulting, Inc. Now, let's get the scoop on this:

Chazz Pratt: What do Recruiters look for when checking social media websites to gather information on potential candidates?

Curtis Cunningham: Recruiters look for a combination of 1.) Consistency with information included on an applicant's resume, 2.) Applicant's overall professional image, traits and contacts, and 3.) Applicant's personal image, traits and personal contacts. Recruiters are trying to assess whether the candidate fits within the company's and hiring manager's culture and personality, respectively. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be an applicant's friend or enemy...you have to decide.

CP: How do you classify the information you find?

CC: I classify information into two different categories: Professional Image and Personal Image. Experience tells me that applicants often bring their personal traits and images, healthy or unhealthy, into the workplace. The frequency of usage and times of day applicants are posting on social media also render a reflection of how one's time is managed on the job, or as an unemployed job seeker. Recruiters want to see indicators that you manage your time effectively, and applicants would be advised to know they are creating and advertising patterns they may not be aware of.

CP: How much information do you need in order to accurately make a determination on what you discover?

CC: Potentially, just one piece of significant information can make or break the application/interview process, e.g., professionally, one major inconsistency in employment information, or personally, one poorly advised photo posted on a social media site can cost an applicant the chance to compete for a career opportunity.

CP: Does the job candidate have any means to discuss what's found?

CC: This depends on several unpredictable factors, including: The particular recruiter, the urgency of filling the position, number of other available candidates, and how well one candidate's credentials compare to others. As you can see, there are too many moving parts to rely on the chance to discuss the findings on one's social media site. Not to mention, getting beyond any of the variables mentioned above, will also require securing a phone screen or face to face interview to discuss the findings.

CP: Any additional comments?

CC: In my experience as a Business & Career Consultant, recruiters and employers are increasingly utilizing social media to screen applicants, and many candidates are being screened out due to findings on these sites. The Million Dollar question to ask before posting professional or personal information is: How can this information, as well as the time of day I'm posting it, benefit or hinder me from achieving my desired goal? The clear and honest answer to yourself should either be healthy or unhealthy toward your goal. Now, it's up to you to decide how you manage that response.

Please feel free to comment on this article. I'd like to know, when it comes to your online presence using social media; how you see it, or how you don't.

Also, check out these links:

Website: CurtisCunninghamSpeaks.com

Email: Curtis@CurtisCunninghamSpeaks.com

Emily Morrow, Alligator Writer: http://www.alligator.org/news/local/article_10b3db80-f48b-11e0-996e-001cc4c002e0.html

Website: Reppler.com