Job Recruiters Don’t Care About Your GPA Or Cover Letter

Your best way into a job? A personal referral and a stellar social-media presence, a new survey from Jobvite found.

Job Recruiters Don’t Care About Your GPA Or Cover Letter
[Photo: Flickr user Md saad andalib]

The U.S. economy is on the upswing. Last month, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest rate since early 2008. Across the country, recruiters are hard at work placing candidates in jobs.


According to the recruiting platform Jobvite’s annual Recruiter Nation report, released today, over a quarter of companies surveyed anticipate hiring more than 100 people in the next year. In fast-growing industries like health care, telecommunications, and hospitality, companies are planning to employ more workers at even higher rates. And on the money front, things are looking good for job searchers: 69% of recruiters have increased their initial salary offers over the last year. Here are some other key findings from Jobvite’s research:

More Than Ever, It’s About Who You Know

As the number of jobs multiply, finding the right candidate is still a challenge: the majority of recruiters say that they have struggled to find skilled or qualified talent. As they assess candidates, the report found that recruiters don’t pay much heed to two things that job hunters (especially those fresh out of college) tend to obsess about: their GPA and their cover letter. Around 60% of recruiters found these aspects of the candidate’s portfolio to be the least important factors in deciding whether they were a good fit for the job. Instead, 88% said that cultural fit is very relevant, and 87% percent cited previous job experience as key.

It makes sense, then, that 78% of recruiters say that personal referrals are the best source of quality hires, which is up from 60% in 2014. While networking and knowing the right people has always been important when trying to get through the door at a company, Jobvite has found that referrals are becoming more important with time. Recruiters have many tactics for finding candidates through referrals. Forty percent of companies, for instance, give out bonuses to employees who are able to bring on the right candidate for a job. Over the next year, many recruiters plan to invest even more in finding candidates through referrals.

Mining Your Social Media Accounts

While real-world relationships are the best tool for finding the right candidate, online relationships are becoming increasingly important in recruiting efforts. Recruiters now find 56% of well-qualified candidates through social media. But in the flood of information available on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, what are recruiters looking for? The Jobvite survey had some fascinating insights that show that recruiters are mining the Internet for relevant details.

  • 74% were most concerned with how long a candidate worked at their previous jobs
  • 34% were interested in mutual connections
  • 29% were searching for examples of written or design work

Recruiters also had pearls of wisdom for job hunters as they worked on their online personas. They suggested that candidates double-check their spelling and grammar on social media, since the vast majority see sloppy mistakes as a negative. They also encouraged them to engage in conversations about current events in appropriate, professional ways, while also highlighting their volunteer, social engagement, and professional work.

On the other hand, 25% percent of recruiters saw selfies negatively. It should also come as no surprise that the majority of recruiters saw evidence of alcohol and marijuana consumption to be negative. Having a strong online presence was deemed very important to recruiters, particularly if candidates were going out for jobs that involved marketing or communications.


Forget The Foosball Table; Practical Perks Are In

Finally, the survey found that when a recruiter has landed on the right candidate, he or she is likely to try to close the deal with perks. In the past, companies often offered incentives like free snacks, game rooms, and casual office culture as a way to get people excited about the job. In the post-recession world, job candidates are more pragmatic. Sixty-three percent of candidates care about getting great medical and dental insurance, while 44% want an excellent 401K package. In the tech industry, 58% of candidates valued the option to work from home.

About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.