The next time you think about posting your beer-pong championship highlights on YouTube or photos of your "pilgrimage" to Amsterdam, consider a new study by online job site CareerBuilder.com that found more than 20 percent of employers investigate prospective employees by visiting their online social network pages.
The survey found that 34 percent of the managers who screen candidates on the Internet found content that made them drop the candidate from any short list.
"Hiring managers are using the Internet to get a more well-rounded view of job candidates in terms of their skills, accomplishments and overall fit within the company," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.com.
The main concerns that hiring managers cited were drinking and using drugs.
Other areas noted by employers included posting provocative or inappropriate photographs or information, expressing derogatory remarks of race, gender and religion, lying about professional achievements and qualifications, and the use of poor communication skills.
But, the survey also found that having hiring managers scouring social network pages was not all bad. Some 24 percent said they found content to help them solidify their decision to hire.
Top factors that influenced their decisions included candidates' backgrounds supporting their qualifications for the job, evidence of good communications skills, and having a site that conveyed a professional image with a wide range of interests.
Careerbuilder.com recommends cleaning up digital dirt, updating your profile regularly with career accomplishments, and joining selective groups (avoid the "Party Monsters R Us" crowd), to keep your online persona in a favorable light.
The Careerbuilder.com survey polled some 3,169 professional head hunters nationwide. The study had a sampling error of plus or minus 1.74 percent.