Your social networking activities online -- whether you tweet a few lines or scribble on the Facebook wall -- could well decide your job prospects, as more number of American employers are turning to such sites before zeroing in on the right candidate for employment.

A major chunk of the US employers are banking on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace, to research on a candidate before recruitment, says a survey.

Nearly half of employers surveyed in the US by job portal CareerBuilder showed that 45 per cent of them use social networking sites to research job candidates. Last year, the same stood at just 22 per cent.

About 11 per cent are planning to start using social networking sites for screening.

Moreover, about 35 per cent of employers reported that they have found content on social networking sites that made them decide not to hire the candidate.

The survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder.com between May 22 and June 10, 2009 among 2,667 hiring managers and human resource professionals.

Going by the findings, Facebook is the most preferred among employers with 29 per cent of the employers using that site for online searches or background checks before recruiting candidates.

Besides, 26 per cent of respondents use LinkedIn, 21 per cent surf MySpace, 11 per cent search blogs and 7 per cent follow candidates on Twitter for information.

The industries most likely to screen job seekers via such sites or search engines include IT (63 per cent) and professional and business services (53 per cent).

"Social networking is a great way to make connections with potential job opportunities and promote your personal brand across the Internet," CareerBuilder Vice-President of Human Resources Rosemary Haefner said.

Among those surveyed, 53 per cent respondents said candidates have posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information, while 44 per cent said that many candidates have posted information about drinking or using drugs.

As per the survey, 35 per cent of respondents found that candidates bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients and made them decide not to hire such people.

Interestingly, 14 per cent of employers did not hire a candidate because he/she send a message using an emoticon such as a smiley face while 16 per cent decided against recruiting a candidate for using text language such as 'GR8' (great) in an e-mail or job application.

On the other hand, nearly 18 per cent said they found content on such sites that helped them hire a candidate.

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