Technology is leading the way for hiring managers to easily leverage social media to source and hire talent.
By Debbie Bolla
Searching social media sites for great candidates is no longer just a check mark on a recruiter’s to-do list. Social recruiting is now a pivotal tool that all organizations should be leveraging in their overall talent acquisition strategy. Today’s recruiting technologies allow organizations to seek best candidates through social networks while creating diverse talent pools and rich data for analytics.

“Just three years ago, there was really no social recruiting industry,” explains Jessica Miller-Merrell president and CEO of Xceptional HR. “These tools are new and exciting, and often underestimated in the time to develop and the expertise needed to develop a social recruiting strategy for an organization. Companies can no longer afford to blindly experiment with social media for recruiting. They need a senior-level leader who can help plan, develop, and lead a comprehensive corporate recruiting strategy to be effective.”

The use of social networks for sourcing hires has been on a consistent uptick according to Jobvite’s annual 2013 Social Recruiting Survey. In 2008, 78 percent of respondents reported using a social network or social media in their recruiting efforts; in 2009 the number rose to 89 percent; and in 2013, it hit 94 percent. Plus ADP’s Recruiting Trends 2013 report found 47 percent of respondents feel that social media networks help create a successful recruiting strategy.

What’s driving this incremental interest? First there is reach—there is unlimited potential with more than one billion Facebook users and more than 200 million profiles on LinkedIn. Plus recruiters can hit up the highly coveted passive candidates—the hidden talent that is not currently looking to change jobs but would certainly make a move if the opportunity presented itself. Reports Tony Marzulli, vice president of product management and talent at ADP, “This shift in how people search and how recruiters find passive candidates is putting pressure on recruiters to develop more intelligent social sourcing techniques.”

Jobseekers are equally taking advantage of social media to find jobs. According to a report from Betts Recruiting, more than 14 million people sourced social media to find their last job. The 2012 Social Job Seeker survey reported that 52 percent of job searchers use Facebook to look for work, 38 percent use LinkedIn, and 34 percent Twitter.
Top candidates can read between the lines of the organizations who take their social media presence seriously and those who don’t. Jobseekers, especially those in the younger Gen Y generation, see frequent social media activity as a strength and product of leading, innovative companies. Social media campaigns reinforcing a company’s culture and Internet videos sensations going viral are all talent grabbers.

“Organizations need to develop a comprehensive plan to connect with top talent. It wasn’t too long ago when the idea of a company not having a website would be an instant deal breaker for candidates,” explains Ben Martinez, HR director for HireVue. “Today, that holds true for social media presence. If a company isn’t on at least LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, it will be unlikely to get candidates, especially the newest entrants to the workforce, to apply. But having a social media presence and an active social recruiting strategy are two different things. Simply linking to company social media profiles isn’t enough. Instead, the company needs to show that it knows how to use the different platforms to not just engage with customers, but also build their employment brand and work to identify, attract, and communicate with candidates.”

And it’s undeniable that social recruiting is producing some serious results. According to Jobvite’s survey, the organizations using social recruiting are experiencing some impressive benefits: 33 percent report improvement in time to hire; 49 percent see better quality of candidate; 43 percent found more candidates; and 32 percent experienced heightened quantity and quality of employee referrals.

“Like any marketing, there’s an art in science to the launch and management of a social media recruitment campaign,” says Miller-Merrell. “Companies like Rackspace have seen the number of candidates who apply for positions decrease andcandidate quality increase saving, the recruiting team time and money. NPR has saved more than $100,000 by moving the majority of their recruiting efforts on social media.”
So What’s Out There?
ADP’s report Recruiting Trends 2013 found that 32 percent of companies with more than 1,000 employees have seen a year-over-year improvement in the impact of social and mobile recruiting tools. Technology impacts the speed of the hiring process as well as the productivity of candidate.
A recent study by CareerArc found that 50 percent get more applications by using social recruiting and 59 percent of companies find they get more referrals. In fact, Aberdeen Group reports that social networking sites have jumped up to the second most effective source of hire.

Such marked improvements in metrics can be directly related to some of the offerings in the marketplace. iCIMS’s recruiting tool Social Distribution removes the onerous task of job posting from the equation. It has the ability to automate job postings throughout social media networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter as well as more than 300 other emerging sites. “Recruiters and employees no longer need to spend copious amounts of time manually posting each job to specific social media sites,” says Susan Vitale, chief strategy officer for iCIMS.

But it also leverages the power of referrals. Social job posting isn’t inclusive to the HR department—employees throughout the organization can set up automatic newsfeeds to communicate job openings to their professional network. “Best-in-class organizations typically boast 40 percent or more of their hires from referrals so iCIMS is putting a concerted effort around optimizing this channel,” notes Vitale.

Pete Kazanjy, co-founder of TalentBin, couldn’t agree more. “Employee referrals have always been the most powerful recruiting method, and with social media, employee professional networks have grown exponentially compared to a decade ago, no less a generation ago.”

TalentBin’s technology demonstrates how employees within an organization are linked and connected to the profiles in its database. Recruiters, as well as anyone else in the company who has access to the platform, can make notes about candidates and express their interactions. It’s a way to crowdsource feedback for a more effective, transparent streamlined process.

Integration is key. Some hiring managers would argue there is too much information out there.
“Over the last few years, social recruiting technology has grown to be more sophisticated in helping employers make sense of the information available, and empowering them to use it for more targeted and effective recruiting,” notes Jon Bischke, co-founder and CEO of Entelo.

But technology can lend a hand to sort the wheat from the chaff.

“We provide integration across all social domains,” says ADP’s Marzulli. “Think of it this way. Job candidates leave ‘bread crumbs’ of information about their expertise all over the Internet. That information is located in places ranging from their public LinkedIn profiles to articles in which they are quoted, to blogs where they are engaging their social communities.” ADP Recruiting Management has the capability to source all those areas to identify the top candidates and create a complete picture.

Landing the coveted passive candidates is also made easier. Entelo’s Sonar has the ability to analyze activities of organizations—who is merging or downsizing—and data points of individuals like social networking activity and tenure at their current position to determine the types of employees who are likely to leave their jobs.

“As a result, hiring managers benefit from receiving top talent right in their inbox before they even enter the job market,” informs Bischke.

This is a key part of Entelo’s wheelhouse. The technology has the capability to analyze the bigger market picture and create predictive analytics. It takes into account factors like stock price fluctuations, high- profile departures, acquisitions, and layoff announcements to gain knowledge of the talent market. And it’s working.

“Entelo conducted a study aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of Sonar in identifying candidates’ likelihood of leaving their current positions and found that job seekers identified by Sonar are seven times more likely than an average job seeker to leave their existing position in the 90-day period following a Sonar alert,” claims Bischke.

Search engine optimization is having a greater impact than ever before—even in finding candidates. “The typical job search now starts with Google instead of a job board,” says Marzulli. “So we developed search engine optimization tools that draw candidates into our socially- enabled talent pool microsites. From there, we give recruiters the
tools they need to nurture a prospect from passive interest to active participant in a search process.”

One undeniable strength of social recruiting is the ability to create pools of candidates and manage talent pipelines. Technological tools make it easier to keep track and follow candidates, especially those who were “runners-up” in the hiring process—those so close to getting an offer but someone else beat them out. Another step in making the hiring process more effective, efficient, and innovative.
Taking Social Seriously
Ready to jump into a social recruiting strategy? Ray Schreyer, manager of global talent acquisition at IBM revealed some best practices during a recent webinar (How to Create a Killer Social Recruiting Strategy from Blogging4Jobs).

Schreyer recommends developing an integrated plan and specific roadmap. Like other talent acquisition approaches, social recruiting needs a defined strategy. A good place to start, Schreyer says, is to conduct an internal social media audit to see whom in your organization is a superstar at leveraging its potential. Your culture should encourage social interaction and your strategy should be communicated company wide.

Assign a specific executive or a team of resources to manage it. Create a timeline and content calendar, which will allow you to track your progress. Also be sure to create social recruiting guidelines so every recruiter is on the same page.
Making Sure It’s Effective
Have a social recruiting strategy in place but don’t know how to measure it? Ray Schreyer, manager of global talent acquisition at IBM revealed some best practices during a recent webinar (How to Create a Killer Social Recruiting Strategyfrom Blogging4Jobs).
“If you don’t have measurement you can’t tell if you are going forward, backward, or standing still,” he noted.

Schreyer pointed out that at IBM, the company measures four distinct areas: reach, engagement, amplification, and conversion.

  • Reach. Get a good gauge on the amount of people you are reaching. Track this through audience members who have opted into your communications, the number of connections in LinkedIn, and Twitter followers.
  • Engagement. Track how your audience interacts with content published by noting the number of likes and comments received, and if it’s producing interaction and engagement.
  • Amplification. See what type of reach your efforts are having through audience sharing with others, retweets, and videos going viral.
  • Conversion. Measure how many hires have resulted from your actions.

Technological tools also have the ability to show the power of social recruiting programs. ADP’s Marzulli reports that social analytics can deliver transparency of source of hire and time to hire. Recruiters also have the opportunity to track the interactions between candidates. Entelo’s Bischke says hiring managers can do a deep dive to see what is working—like subject lines of email outreach— and what’s not in terms of response rates. Plus hiring managers leading the effort want to glean on which sites are linked to success. iCISM’s Vitale says recruiters can see which social media channels perform best for specific job profiles.
You Can’t Argue With Numbers
Not sure if social recruiting is worthy of your budget? Recent research has produced some compelling statistics that show the value and return on investment of this talent acquisition approach.

  • Betts Recruiting shows that 14.4 million people found jobs on social media in 2011.
  • According to, 89 percent of recruiters have hired through LinkedIn.
  • Jobvite’s 2013 Social Recruiting Survey shows that 33 percent report improvement in time to hire; 49 percent see better quality of candidate; 43 percent found more candidates; and 32 percent experienced heightened quantity and quality of employee referrals through social recruiting.
  • A recent study by CareerArc found that 50 percent get more applications by using social recruiting and 59 percent of companies find they get more referrals. It also found 1 in 3 job seekers use social media as their primary tool for job searching, and 50 percent of job seekers spend more than six hours per week using social media for their job search.
  • ADP’s Recruiting Trends 2013 found 75 percent of respondents believe that social media has a moderate to large impact on talent acquisition.


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