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Survey: Why Your Social Recruiting Tactics Are Wrong


A recent survey revealed that 91 percent of employers use social networks to screen prospective employees. But do most job seekers realize that employers are weighing social media so heavily? And are these social profiles a fair representation of job seekers as professionals?

Software Advice interviewed recruiters to see what red flags they look for when reviewing a candidate’s social media profiles. Then, we created an online survey to find out whether the red flags recruiters use to size up candidates matched with common social media practices among job seekers. We collected a total of 1,542 responses from randomly selected adults within the United States. Here’s what we found.

Key Takeaways:

  • Only 66 percent of respondents reported having a social media presence—though many recruiters view this as a red flag.
  • The majority of social media users do not always ensure their social media profiles match their resume.
  • Most social media users do not speak poorly of their current or previous employers.

Over One-Third of Respondents Don’t Use Social Media

The first thing most recruiters and business owners pointed out as a red flag when it came to recruiting on social media was simple: a lack of social media presence.

“When a job candidate does not have a social media presence or has poor activity on a social media profile,” Andrew Bauer, CEO of Royce Leather, a retailer of fine leather products, points out, “I see that as a red flag.”

However, when we asked respondents whether they used social media, only 66 percent noted they did. As such, eliminating candidates based on a lack of social media profile could result in companies ruling out qualified candidates who may simply prefer not to be active on social media networks.

Respondents’ Social Media Use

Additionally, we asked our survey takers which “red flags” they thought employers should not use to eliminate candidates. Approximately 32 percent of respondents thought that disqualifying an applicant based on a lack of social media presence was a recruiting tactic that should be avoided.

Social Media “Red Flags” Respondents View as Unfair

After all, some people prefer to not to conduct personal interactions via an online medium as a means of simplifying their lives, or because they believe that by staying off of social media, they will be able to better maintain their privacy from companies that use these mediums to conduct research. In any case, the reasons people prefer to be inactive on social media—or avoid it altogether—often do not preclude them from being stellar employees.

Mismatched Resumes and Online Profiles Are Common

Another red flag pointed out by several recruiters was a mismatch between a candidate’s resume and the professional history listed on their social media profiles.

In fact, Judi Wunderlich, the co-founder and vice president of recruiting at staffing firm Wunderland, says she looks specifically for “whether the resume matches the work history in [the candidate’s] LinkedIn profile.”

For some recruiters, mismatched social profiles and resumes indicate a lack of attention to detail. For others, it might lead them to believe the candidate is bending the truth about their past work history.

How Often Social Media Users Update Profiles to Match Resume

However, according to our survey results, it seems that updating their social media profile information is just a low priority for many social media users. In fact, only 44 percent of respondents noted they always updated their information to reflect the most recent version of their resume. On the other hand, an even larger percentage (48 percent) of respondents said they did not think about it, or didn’t care.

Most Social Media Users Don’t Bash Employers

The third red flag employers pointed out: posting negative commentary about previous employers on social media.

“Anytime someone publicly posts negative commentary about a previous employer, I immediately think: immature and unprofessional. Not someone I want representing my company in any way,” says Laurie Morse-Dell, a personal branding coach and consultant.

The large majority of respondents to our survey would agree with Morse-Dell’s comment. As you can see, 84 percent noted that they have never posted something that could be construed as negative about an employer.

Frequency of Negative Posts About Employers

Given that most social media users are careful to be tactful when referencing their employers on social media, this is a red flag that recruiters should not shy away from using to eliminate potential candidates.

Most Social Media Users Check Spelling and Grammar

Finally, a red flag many recruiters pointed out is the presence of typos and bad grammar on a candidate’s social media profile.

As Anthony Kirlew, the founder of AKA Internet Marketing, says of prospective candidates: “I don’t expect perfection, but I want to know that they take time and hold ‘taking pride in their work’ as a core value.”

How Often Social Media Users Check Spelling and Grammar

And it appears that most social media users are cognizant of the importance of proper spelling and grammar. Sixty-nine percent of respondents noted that they always check their posts for errors before publishing, while only 6 percent said they never did so.

Thus, poor spelling and grammar on a candidate’s profile could, indeed, be an effective gauge for recruiters to determine whether a candidate is attentive to detail.


Social media has given recruiters and small business owners a new way to vet potential new hires. However, some of the red flags used to rule out candidates—a lack of social media profile and mismatched profiles and resumes—might be eliminating quality candidates.

On the other hand, most social media users are aware that negative comments about current or previous employers, as well as consistent spelling and grammar mistakes, could reflect poorly upon them in the job search.

Does your company employ the former social media red flags when screening candidates? If so, you may need to rethink your approach to better reflect the fact that job seekers use social media primarily as a social tool, not a professional one—otherwise, your business could be missing out on some top talent.


To find the data in this report, we conducted a two-day online survey of four questions, and gathered 1,542 responses from randomly selected adults within the United States. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood their meaning and the topic at hand.

To further discuss this report, or obtain access to any of the charts above, feel free to contact me at


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About the Author

Erin Osterhaus joined Software Advice in 2012 after earning an M.A. in German and European Studies from Georgetown University. She focuses on the HR market, offering advice to industry professionals on the best recruiting, talent management, and leadership techniques.

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