If you’re seeking a job these days, you’d better watch your step on social networking sites and blogs. CareerBuilder’s finds that more employers are turning to socnets to research prospective employees.

The survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers found that 45 percent use social networking sites to research job candidates, up sharply from 22 percent last year, while 11 percent plan to start using socnets for screening.

Among those conducting online searches/background checks of candidates, 29 percent use Facebook, 26 percent use LinkedIn and 21 percent use MySpace; 11 percent search blogs and 7 percent follow candidates on Twitter.

Nervous yet? You should be.

Thirty-five percent of employers reported finding content on socnets that led them not to hire a candidate. Top examples:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 53 percent
  • Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs – 44 percent
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients – 35 percent
  • Candidate showed poor communication skills – 29 percent
  • Candidate made discriminatory comments – 26 percent
  • Candidate lied about qualifications – 24 percent
  • Candidate shared confidential information from previous employer – 20 percent

But wait! There’s more:

Fourteen percent of employers have disregarded a candidate because the candidate sent a message using an emoticon such as a smiley face while 16 percent dismissed a candidate for using text language such as GR8 (great) in an email or job application.

Now that we covered why employers don’t hire candidates after doing some research, my next post will be on the things employers find online that make them want to hire a candidate.