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Does social media recruiting work?

4 min read


If you have been trying to hire employees, chances are that you have at least considered using social media to find the right candidates. There is ample proof that social media can help fill jobs; but it depends on what kind of job you are trying to hire for. Step one is to be very clear on what exactly you are looking for.

The Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey provides a comprehensive overview of the social media recruiting market. It states that:

  • More than 90% of employers used social recruiting in 2012.
  • Two-thirds of companies recruit candidates via Facebook, more than half use Twitter to find talent and nearly all use LinkedIn.
  • 43% of respondents felt that the quality of applicants has improved thanks to social media.
  • 20% said it takes less time to hire when using social recruiting.

Social media works better for recruiting active talent

It seems relatively straightforward to recruit active employees via social media, i.e., people who are actively searching for a new role. Brands such as Taco Bell and UPS have created Pinterest boards, Twitter handles and Facebook pages, dedicated exclusively to this purpose.

Active recruiting can be earned or paid. For example, earned would be engaging with prospects in a LinkedIn group while paid could mean placing an ad or posting a job on LinkedIn ($395 for 30 days).

But this approach might not work if you are looking for a highly qualified superstar — somebody who is currently employed and might not even be thinking about making a move. In this case, posting your job on LinkedIn or Twitter is unlikely to have much effect.

Combine social and traditional for passive recruiting

Jim Coughlin, senior recruitment consultant at VMSAccelerator, says that for passive talent, a social media strategy alone might not work, especially if your business is not a well-known brand. Ask yourself: Why would somebody who is in high-demand leave their current job to join your company?

The Jobvite report confirms: “Recruiting passive candidates is the most popular tactic in competitive recruiting.” One way to do that is with LinkedIn Recruiter, one of LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions. It lets you search all of LinkedIn by skills, (current and previous) employers and many more criteria. And the way a LinkedIn profile is written can, in itself, give a strong first impression of a person. Do they seem like a team player or take sole credit for all their successes?

You can then contact targets via LinkedIn InMails, which is where the skill of the recruiter comes in. You’ll either need a qualified in-house resource or outsource the process, as talking somebody out of a job and into a new job is neither quick nor easy.

Passive recruiting also requires that you position your company as a great place to work — social media is suitable for this end. Make sure you make your recruiting efforts an extension of your brand., i.e., portray an accurate image of your company so that people know whether they will fit into your corporate culture. One way to do this inexpensively is by letting your employees create short videos and blog posts about why they enjoy working at your company. Maybe you allow moms to be flexible and telecommute or you encourage ongoing education. Encourage them to advertise those perks!

The job seeker’s view

Jobvite also released a report on the social job seeker, outlining the ways people looked for and found jobs via social channels in 2012. The report finds:

  • 88% of all job seekers have at least one social networking profile; 64% have two profiles and 44% have three.
  • 75% of the American workforce is comprised of job seekers.
  • 69% of employed Americans are actively seeking or open to a new job.

Don’t forget about referrals

Whether one of your employees refers an acquaintance or you hear about a job opening via a friend, referrals have the highest probably to result in a mutual employee/employee fit. The Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey confirms that “the highest rated candidates come from referrals, direct sourcing and internal transfers.” So, whether you have an official referral program or not, encourage your (happy) employees to promote your job openings on their own social media channels and in person.

This post is by Natascha Thomson of MarketingXLerator.