More than half of all employers have been put off hiring someone because of embarrassing photographs and outbursts on social networking websites, it emerged last week.
Employers are carrying out "reviews" of candidates' online profiles to size up their personalities before deciding whether to employ them.
The trend was revealed in research carried out at the University of Edinburgh into how the rise of online social networking has added extra stresses to people's lives.
Researchers found that more than half of employers they spoke to during the study had decided against hiring someone after checking their profiles on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The study, by the University of Edinburgh Business School, found that the more groups of people in someone's Facebook friends list, the greater potential there is to cause offence.
They found that in particular, adding employers or parents resulted in the greatest anxiety.
Researchers say that stress usually arises when a person presents a version of themselves on Facebook that is unacceptable to some of their online "friends", such as posts displaying behaviour such as swearing, recklessness, drinking and smoking.
But business chiefs say that viewing a person's social media profiles can be as useful as a reference.
David Lonsdale, assistant director of CBI Scotland, said: "A review of an applicant's online profile can play the same role as a reference, helping flesh out their CV.
However, it will rarely reveal anything other than the odd 'wacky' picture.
The majority of firms continue to rely on the combination of CV and interviews to find the right person." Ian Bull, of recruitment firm Reed, said: "It is important to remember that while someone's social media profile, in particular LinkedIn, is important, it can only ever tell so much of the story."
The report also discovered that more people are Facebook friends with their ex-partners than with their current one.
Only 56 per cent of users were friends with their partner online, compared with 64 per cent who were friends with their exes.
Ben Marder, author of the report and early career fellow in marketing at the Business School, said: "Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance, drink and flirt.
But now with your mum, dad and boss there, the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines."