Before posting pictures of your late-night revelry or complaints about your job on social media, think again – 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring, up significantly from 60 percent last year and 11 percent in 2006.

The national survey was recently conducted online on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll. It included a representative sample of more than 2,300 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes in the private sector.

“Most workers have some sort of online presence today– and more than half of employers won’t hire those without one,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

“This shows the importance of cultivating a positive online persona. Job seekers should make their professional profiles visible online and ensure any information that could negatively impact their job search is made private or removed.”

Social recruiting is becoming a key part of HR departments – three in 10 employers (30 percent) have someone dedicated to the task.

Employers aren’t just looking at social media – 69 percent are using online search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing to research candidates as well, compared to 59 percent last year.

Of those who decided not to hire a candidate based on their social media profiles, the reasons included candidates who…

· Posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39 percent

· Posted information about them drinking or using drugs: 38 percent

· Had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32 percent

· Bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee: 30 percent

· Lied about qualifications: 27 percent

· Had poor communication skills: 27 percent

· Were linked to criminal behavior: 26 percent

· Posted too frequently: 17 percent

Your online persona doesn’t just have the potential to get you in trouble. Cultivating your presence online can also lead to reward. More than four in 10 employers (44 percent) have found content on a social networking site that caused them to hire the candidate.

The survey also found that 57 percent of employers are less likely to call someone in for an interview if they can’t find a job candidate online. Of that group, 36 percent like to gather more information before calling in a candidate for an interview.

Just because you landed the job doesn’t mean you can disregard what you post online. More than half of employers (51 percent) use social networking sites to research current employees.

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