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More Companies Recruit Via Social Networks

LinkedIn, Facebook, and similar networks can help companies engage with active job seekers, plus hidden gems who may not be hunting.

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It's hard to overstate the importance of finding just the right talent for your organization. Just look at the money and time organizations pay to do just that. Social networking is changing the way companies recruit employees and vet candidates, making the processes both easier and in some ways more difficult.

Jobvite's 2011 Social Recruiting survey found that 89% of respondents will recruit through social media this year, up from 83% in 2010. The survey also found that organizations' recruiting departments are using multiple social networks to engage potential new hires, with LinkedIn leading in usage (89%, up from 78% in 2010), followed by Facebook (55%) and Twitter (47%). Forty percent of companies surveyed use all three top networks--LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter--as part of their recruitment process.

In some ways, recruitment on social networks is pretty old school. For example, companies can buy ads for open positions on LinkedIn and Facebook. However, the difference between using a social network and plunking an ad in the Sunday newspaper is that the former will target the ads' exposure based on users' profile information and specific criteria. This increases the chances that "passive" job hunters--people who aren't actively looking for a new position but are open to new opportunities--will see and potentially respond to your ads. The Jobvite survey found that recruiting passive job seekers is a leading strategy for competing with other employers for top talent.

The real value of social networks for recruiting--and the challenge for many companies strapped for resources--is ongoing engagement. Potential employees can showcase their subject-area expertise, presentation abilities, the scope of their network, and their influence. Potential employers can showcase their intellectual capital, position in their industry, and opportunities they can provide. Many companies say they are finding strong candidates--or at least leads for strong candidates--by tapping into the "stars" among their social network constituencies. Of course, all of that requires dedication of some resources.

Jenson Crawford , a software engineering manager, said social networking has become an essential resource in recruiting and hiring, and helps to bolster the value of other recruiting tools: "The best source of candidates has always been a personal referral. The second best source is a good recruiting firm. Bringing up the rear, as the least reliable source, is candidate resume submission. Social networking provides tools that allow me to move resumes from the last category into one of the first two."

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Crawford added that he relies on professionally focused social networks such as LinkedIn to find a person who has worked with the candidate in the past. "A quick email or instant message to my contact will provide me actionable information about the candidate--far more than can be discerned from a resume or a phone screen." He added that this is particularly important when hiring IT professionals, who "as a whole are notoriously bad at marketing themselves. There are lots of great IT professionals who don't have a great resume, or even an above-average one. That below-average resume can move quickly to the top of the list when recommended by someone in our shared social network graphs. That social network reference is a fantastic tool for finding and hiring the right candidates."

Companies are also using social networking tools to vet potential candidates. Job seekers are always advised to make sure that their public social networking presence is free from photos and posts that would paint them in an unflattering light to potential employers. And, indeed, employers are looking. The Jobvite survey found that 45% of respondents always search for candidates' online profiles as part of the vetting process, up from 32% in 2010.

But searching on potential employees' profiles isn't all about weeding people out. These profiles also provide insight into candidates' social media savvy and industry expertise. In some cases, not having any presence at all will knock a candidate out of the running.

"A bad candidate may have inappropriate pictures or comments referencing drugs or drinking," said Sarah Lokitis, social media specialist at Search Mojo. "A good candidate will have a professional online presence and, depending on the position, should show their interest in the job's industry within their profiles."

How is your company using social networking to engage with potential employees? Please let me know in the comments section below or by writing to me at

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User Rank: Apprentice
12/20/2011 | 10:10:28 AM
re: More Companies Recruit Via Social Networks
Thanks for tips! I have also done a little bit of research on the topic of seeking jobs using digital/social media, and what I have observed is by being active in localised or niche community, one stands a better chance to land a job or spot a potential talent! Professional networking portals like LinkedIn are good examples, but tinaji [China], apnacircle [india] etc have a better scope of getting people spotted within their local environs
Deb Donston-Miller
Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/30/2011 | 5:53:13 PM
re: More Companies Recruit Via Social Networks
Thank you for the comment, and for the advice!

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The Brainyard
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