It is hard to imagine that in this day and age, job candidates still have information on their social media profiles that prevent them from being hired. Not surprisingly, 43% of companies surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management use social media or an online search to screen job candidates. What is surprising, though, is that 36% of employers have rejected job candidates based on what they have found from a basic social media or online search. A whopping 84% of employers who do check social media and search have rejected potential employees based on what they found online.

Just when you think that it is common knowledge to either keep potentially damaging information private or off social media completely, research comes out that in 2016, job candidates are regularly disqualified for jobs solely because of their online indiscretions. The concept has even worked its way into pop culture with a new Snickers commercial making fun of this very subject with Snickers Crispers “Internship”. In the U.S., the SyFy Channel has a new show premiering soon called “The Internet Ruined My Life”. This show “exposes the unexpected perils of living in a social media obsessed world. Each half-hour explores what happens to a person when a single tweet, post, or status update backfires and spirals out of control.” Perhaps as the phenomenon infiltrates pop culture, more people will understand and learn the lesson that this applies to them!

Beyond knowing not to allow negative information about yourself out there on social media, you should know that the survey did uncover that some employers did not immediately reject candidates with negative information online. Close to 40% of employers surveyed said that they give candidates a chance to explain away any negative information found. Another very important aspect to know if you are hunting for a job is that 84% of companies surveyed use social media as a recruiting tool, and an additional 9% are planning to use social media to find job candidates in the future. Many companies use social profiles to find the right person for a job they might not have even been applying for. As you might imagine, LinkedIn is the top social media recruiting platform. However, other platforms are quickly catching up as recruiting tools with 66% using Facebook, 53% using Twitter, and 12% using Google; even 7% said they used Instagram as a recruiting tool.

What can you do if you have recognized your transgressions and want to remedy the situation? It is possible to help clean up your online reputation if you realize that there is negative information about you online or on social media. The easiest thing is to remove older posts, if they were your own doing. However, if old posts have gotten out of your control, you can follow them and ask them to be removed. The other option is to build a positive reputation that outweighs and pushes down the negativity. This can be done by building up more positive profiles. Eventually, the negative information will be pushed down or go away. Of course, if you haven’t completely removed the negative, it can always come back to bite you. It’s not like you can wait months or even years to get a job. It is best to fess up and let a potential employer know about it rather than having them find out on their own. If you can find it, they can find it, and you can up your chances of getting the job when you are up front and honest.