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35 Percent of Employers Less Likely to Interview Applicants They Can’t Find Online, According to Annual CareerBuilder Social Media Recruitment Survey

Majority of employers now use social networks to screen candidates

35 percent of employers who screen via social networks have sent friend requests or followed candidates that have private accounts; most are granted permission


Avoiding a professional online presence may be hurting your chances of finding a new job. More than one third of employers (35 percent) say they are less likely to interview job candidates if they are unable to find information about that person online, according to CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment survey.  

The national survey was conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll between February 11 and March 6, 2015 and included a representative sample of more than 2,000 full-time, U.S. hiring and human resources managers across industries and company sizes.

Social media recruitment on the rise

Fifty-two percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up significantly from 43 percent last year and 39 percent in 2013.

“Researching candidates via social media and other online sources has transformed from an emerging trend to a staple of online recruitment,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “In a competitive job market, recruiters are looking for all the information they can find that might help them make decisions. Rather than go off the grid, job seekers should make their professional persona visible online, and ensure any information that could dissuade prospective employers is made private or removed.”  

Haefner points out that most recruiters aren’t intentionally looking for negatives. Six in ten (60 percent), in fact, are “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job,” according to the survey. For some occupations, this could include a professional portfolio. Fifty-six percent of recruiters want to see if the candidate has a professional online persona, 37 percent want to see what other people are posting about the candidate, and 21 percent admit they’re looking for reasons not to hire the candidate. 

Additionally, 51 percent of hiring managers use search engines to research candidates.  

Social media recruitment by industry

Hiring managers in information technology and financial services are the most likely to use social networks to screen candidates; retail had the lowest share.

  • Information Technology: 76 percent
  • Financial Services: 64 percent
  • Sales: 61 percent
  • Professional & Business Services: 54 percent
  • Manufacturing: 49 percent
  • Health Care: 49 percent
  • Retail: 46 percent


Hiring managers sending friend requests

Thirty-five percent of employers who screen via social networks have requested to “be a friend” or follow candidates that have private accounts. Of that group, 80 percent say they’ve been granted permission.

Content can help and hurt job prospects

Depending on what hiring managers find, candidates’ online information can help or hurt their odds of getting a job. Forty-eight percent of hiring managers who screen candidates via social networks said they’ve found information that caused them not to hire a candidate – down slightly from 51 percent last year. The following are the top pieces of content that turned off employers:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs – 46 percent
  • Information about candidate drinking or using drugs – 40 percent
  • Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee – 34 percent
  • Poor communication skills – 30 percent
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. – 29 percent

About one-third (32 percent), however, found information that caused them to hire a candidate, including:   

  • Candidate’s background information supported job qualifications –42 percent
  • Candidate’s personality came across as good fit with company culture – 38 percent
  • Candidate’s site conveyed a professional image – 38 percent
  • Candidate had great communication skills – 37 percent
  • Candidate was creative – 36 percent

Script flipped

A separate survey found that some savvy job seekers are using social media to their own benefit. One in seven (15 percent) workers check out hiring managers on social media, with 38 percent of that group seeking to directly interact with the individual. 

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,175 hiring and human resource managers ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) and 3,105 employees ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between February 11 and March 6, 2015 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 2,175 and 3,105, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have sampling errors of +/- 2.10 and +/- 1.76 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies. 

About CareerBuilder®
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site,®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing everything from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit


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