In a sure sign of the times, forty-five percent of employers reported in a recent CareerBuilder survey that they use social networking sites to research job candidates.

That’s quite a leap from the 22 percent who reported the same the previous year. And just so we’re clear that this is a lasting trend another 11 percent say that they plan to start using social networking sites for screening.

Where are employers looking?

Of those who are busy online checking you out, 29 percent use Facebook, 26 percent use LinkedIn and 21 percent use MySpace. One-in-ten (11 percent) search blogs while 7 percent follow candidates on Twitter.

Just what are employers looking for? Those who participated in the survey said they used the following to disqualify job applicants?

- Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information, 53%

- Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs, 44%

- Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients, 35%

- Candidate showed poor communication skills, 29%

- Candidate made discriminatory comments, 26%

- Candidate lied about qualifications, 24%

The top industries to conduct background checks via social networking sites or online search engines are those that specialize in technology and sensitive information: Information Technology (63 percent) and Professional & Business Services (53 percent).

But regardless of what industry you work in, I would start scanning your pages on the various social networking sites and remove anything that may raise red flags.

Employers don’t want to see a photo of you dropping down and getting your eagle on.

I know, I know: They’re probably just mad their bad backs won’t allow them to do the same, but hey, such is life.

Clean it up!

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Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.

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