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Increasing numbers of employers are using personal message websites such as Friends Reunited as a "third reference" to check on the attitude and suitability of job applicants.

According to London recruitment firm Media Contacts, several candidates have missed out on positions due to the nature of their comments on the wildly popular school reunion site.

Many resourceful firms are now logging onto Friends Reunited, and other similar websites, to find out things which potential employees had not mentioned during interviews – such as attitudes to former employers or instances of criminality or other undesirable behaviour.

Media Contacts highlights instances where such comments had led to problems for staff, including the resignation of a PR executive after her bosses found out that she described her manager as "the bitch from hell" and her firm as "a bunch of cowboys".

Another worker landed in hot water after he admitted his CV was "a masterpiece of fiction and creative writing", while one firm decided against employing someone who divulged he was to embark on a world tour just months after taking up his job.

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