Resume and Social Media Blunders Can Cost Applicants a Job

Employers shared what they are looking for on resumes or social media sites and what resume and social media actions can lead—or have led—them not to hire an applicant.

Two surveys from CareerBuilder caution job applicants to be careful about what they include on their resumes and what they post on Social Media.


One survey found that among human resource managers, who are typically the ones who determine which applicants get in front of the actual hiring managers, 75% have caught a lie on a resume. Some resumes were just not believable at all.


The pressure to make a good first impression quickly is high, as 39% of hiring managers said they spend less than a minute looking at a resume and 23% spend less than 30 seconds.


The HR managers surveyed shared their most notable and cringe-worthy real-life examples of gaffes found on actual resumes:

  • A 22-year-old applicant claimed three different degrees.
  • An applicant listed 40 different jobs in one year.
  • An applicant thought they attached a resume to an email but instead sent their full credit application for an apartment.
  • An applicant applied for a job for which they were vastly unqualified (e.g. grocery store shelf-stocker applying for a physician position).
  • An applicant referred to having “as many marriages as jobs.”
  • An applicant listed out their extensive arrest history.
  • An applicant’s resume had a different font type for every sentence.
  • An applicant stated at the bottom of their resume that they do not like babies or puppies.
  • An applicant’s resume was only one sentence.
  • An applicant had the same employment dates for every job listed.


Hiring managers identified the seven most common resume mistakes job seekers make that are instant deal breakers:

  • Typos or bad grammar: 77%;
  • Unprofessional email address: 35%;
  • Resume without quantifiable results: 34%;
  • Resume with long paragraphs of text: 25%;
  • Resume is generic, not customized to company: 18%;
  • Resume is more than two pages: 17%; and
  • No cover letter with resume: 10%.


Social media blunders


A separate CareerBuilder survey found 70% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates (on par with last year), while 7% plan to start. Of those that do social research, 57% have found content that caused them not to hire candidates.


Nearly half of employers (47%) say if they can’t find a job candidate online, they are less likely to call that person in for an interview—28% say that is because they like to gather more information before calling in a candidate for an interview; 20% say they expect candidates to have an online presence.


According to employers who use social networking sites to research potential job candidates, what they’re looking for when researching candidates is:

  • Information that supports their qualifications for the job: 58%;
  • Whether the candidate has a professional online persona: 50%;
  • What other people are posting about the candidate: 34%; and
  • A reason not to hire the candidate: 22%.


Employers who found content on a social networking site that caused them not to hire a job candidate said these were the primary reasons:

  • Job candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 40%.
  • Job candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs: 36%.
  • Job candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc.: 31%.
  • Job candidate was linked to criminal behavior: 30%.
  • Job candidate lied about qualifications: 27%.
  • Job candidate had poor communication skills: 27%.
  • Job candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee: 25%.
  • Job candidate’s screen name was unprofessional: 22%.
  • Job candidate shared confidential information from previous employers: 20%.
  • Job candidate lied about an absence: 16%.
  • Job candidate posted too frequently: 12%.


On the other hand, those that found content that led them to hire a candidate said it was because they saw:

  • Job candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job: 37%.
  • Job candidate was creative: 34%.
  • Job candidate’s site conveyed a professional image: 33%.
  • Job candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests: 31%.
  • Got a good feel for the job candidate’s personality, could see a good fit within the company culture: 31%.
  • Job candidate had great communications skills: 28%.
  • Job candidate received awards and accolades: 26%.
  • Other people posted great references about the job candidate: 23%.
  • Job candidate had interacted with company’s social media accounts: 22%.
  • Job candidate posted compelling video or other content: 21%.
  • Job candidate had a large number of followers or subscribers: 18%.


Employers continue to monitor employees’ online presence even after they’re hired. Nearly half of employers (48%) say they use social networking sites to research current employees—10% do it daily. Further, one-third of employers (34%) have found content online that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.