Question of the Week - Do the many social media tools save time and help make more placement or take time away from placements?

This weeks Question of the Week is in the new streamlined one minute format. Geoff Peterson, a fellow group member and contributor to, talks about the changes taking place to the recruitment process. Geoff writes StaffBytes and documents many of the new technologies and tools for recruitment.

The Question Of The Week is: Do the many social media tools save time and help make more placement or take time away from placements?

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Like all tools, it depends on how you use them; like all placements, it depends on the search. So my answer: It depends!
No surprise answer here: It depends. There are probably a few of factors that contribute to the determination of whether the social media tools are our friends or foes. Factors include whether the target audience the recruiter needs to reach is hanging out on these social media sites and whether the recruiter is tech-savvy (i.e. skilled) enough to quickly sift through the clutter to get to the valuable nuggets.

We have a few areas of specialization (including legal and specialty retail). The target candidates in each sector embrace technology and use the internet in very different ways. We simply CANNOT utilize a common outreach methodology across all sectors. After all, "if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." I liken this question to putting Maureen Sharib (telephone sourcing) in a room with Shally Steckerl (internet sourcing) and asking them to duke it out.
I am a technical recruiter with only 26 months experience with Kforce Professional Staffing. I have fully utilized media tools like LinkedIN, Plaxo, MySpace, Facebook because of Alexa rankings. In respect to time versus money. I have only made 2 placements which have resulted in a little over 35K in GP for the company yet have spent hours upon hours utilizing all the features. 1200+ working on building my personal brand, establishing connections, being an advocate in the market, answering peoples questions, sourcing for candidates. If I were to devote my time to just plain calling around and asking for referrals, cold calling candidates, and using job boards my success ratio would be 7K a week in GP for 30 weeks (dividing a 40 hour work week into 1200 plus hours spent on social networks) resulting in a total of 210K of GP for my company. In respect to Al Goldratt’s book “The Goal” every goal of an organization is to make money. Time is money and in recruiting, time is our worst competitor. So to answer this question social media DOES take time away from placements and results in lost GP.

We cannot only be negative because there are some good. It is just does the good truly out weigh the bad. In my personal opinion the main benefit of LinkedIN is to create a group and make it your own personal group where you invite only rock star candidates you never want to lose touch with. Why do this: We all use databases, but the true value in our database is how we search it not the data in it. Is our data in our database always accurate? Answer is no, and you manually are entering this data in over and over again as your candidates shift jobs and careers. How can we never lose touch with them. Simple create this group I talk about. LinkedIN automatically updates your groups contact information as your candidates utilize tool. This way you can mass email all candidates in a one stop shop email wishing them well. Yes you can build an email list and do this, but you then have to always update with accurate emails as candidates change jobs. Utilize the Linked In service. This is a built in feature where you don't have to maintain the data. Rather the candidate maintains his or her own contact information. This saves time and time is money. This strategy takes a very limited amount of time resulting in social media’s advantage. Just my two sense!


Joshua Kitchen
Technical Recruiter
Kforce, Inc.
Since I am not a recruiter per se I have to simply express a point of view based on life experience not functional specific experience. My answer (since "it depends" has been taken) is too soon to appraise. Ami's point re: the use of tools is, of course, spot on.

It seems to me that the world is still very much enamored with the technology but remains in the trial and error stage of learning how to use it rather than play with it.
I am of the opinion that our sourcing & recruiting methods should change with the innovation of the internet technologies like web 2.0. We cannot continue recruiting with the same tools that we used 10 (or, even 5) years ago. With the advent & popularity of social/business networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc, we have to take time out to expand our online network to reach more people even faster. So, in a short term perspective even though the social media tools do not 'seem' to save time & help to make quick placements, I believe that ultimately growing these tools will help us to save time, money & energy, which in turn will enable us to make more placements in the future…& thus we will be much more effective in the long run.


Shibu Cherian
Sr. Technical Recruiter/Consultant
Granite - Technical Services
(An affiliate of General Electric-GE Energy)
Any tool we use takes time to learn to use effectively in practice. As we learn more, our abilities empower us to gain even more out of social media tools. With a well placed time investment and our focused rigor, the good news is that effectiveness and efficiency increases. Then too, the time we need to make a placement naturally decreases.

The key in getting to the payback point is to first invest the time to learn a tool and then work toward mastery logically with the tools we choose as promising. It is easy for us to become overwhelmed with all the tools, information and methods of approach. Therefore we should do some simple research in speaking with others in our field. Invest the time to develop familiarity with the tools we feel are most promising and where possible seek to learn the tricks of the trade though our peers and training available. In time we can amplify our effectiveness an results.

The bottom line is Social Media Tools definitely do save time once we are using them with effectiveness. Developing effectiveness and mastery simply takes a time investment in the form of a learning as well as skill and tact-honing. However if we want to get to time effectiveness we might want work with one or two tools in a focused manner until we develop effectiveness.

So the answer is YES. Social media tools save time and help us make more placements… Some things never change however and the old adage still applies… It is not the tool, it is how well the tool is used that makes the difference.
@ Shibu:

To your point "We cannot continue recruiting with the same tools that we used 10 (or, even 5) years ago." I have to disagree. Sorry.

In the main those tools where the phone, email, social/communication skills, emotional intelligence and a calculator. In many places those things have been diluted by the supposed value of being social-web savvy.

You are right to draw the distinction between "sourcing" and "recruiting" [by which I think you mean candidate engagement, development and delivery]. Social media has an impact on both steps in the process but without some stragegic purpose deploying social media tactically can not only be a huge waste of time but lead to delusions of productivity.

@ Joshua - intetesting observations. I'm curious: If, as you say, time is money and your in depth reply was your "two cents worth" you either type 240 words per minute or are not getting paid enough! Which is it? :-)

To your point: "If I were to devote my time to just plain calling around and asking for referrals, cold calling candidates, and using job boards my success ratio would be 7K a week in GP for 30 weeks (dividing a 40 hour work week into 1200 plus hours spent on social networks) resulting in a total of 210K of GP for my company, " that supports my response to Shibu, does it not? It also begs the question: then why aren't you doing it?

Last, some would argue that LinkedIn has limited use as a social media because to fully utilize it you need to "game the system" by building expansive but very shallow relationships. What say you?
I love any source that produces a placement! I know that common wisdom among big billers is that focusing your efforts on "rainmaking actions" i.e., interacting with people who pay fees, people you could place, and people who point you to the other two people should be consuming your day. I think that any sourcing tool is fine if your researcher is spending their time using them while you create wealth.
The way I see it, this is actually three questions:

1. Do the many social media tools save time? They can save time during the name gathering part of the recruiting process. I'm not sure that they save much time when it comes to actually getting the individual on the phone, qualifying him/her, and handling the myriad other tasks involved in making the placement.

2. Do the many social media tools help make more placement [sic]? If they lead to a greater abundance of potential candidates (see above), logic would suggest that they do help make more placements.

3. Do the many social media tools take time away from placements? On the whole, I think this answer has to be yes. This is certainly true for those who may not use them enough to become proficient and/or to produce much in the way of result. Even for those who do go on to successful use of these tools, there is still a learning period during which productivity is undoubtedly lower. One of the tricks, it seems to me, is to know yourself (and your market, of course) well enough to make an honest assessment of their efficacy for you, personally.
I think LinkedIn is essential, other than that it seems to be how you use the other tools. I can say I haven't made a placement off Facebook, MySpace, or any other network other than LinkedIn. Google Reader and RSS feeds are effective if you are looking for sales leads.

You can spend an entire day on the internet with these tools and not get anything done. It's mostly time management. It seems to me that you do the research and play with web 2.0 on the off hours.
It's starting to get overwhelming. I get requests for different social networks every day that I have never heard of. You have to ask yourself "what is the quickest way to a placement". Lately, it has just accounted for more email and better email management.
Personally I find LinkedIn to be one of my most valuable recruiting tools and have made several hires this year using it. As far as the social networks like Facebook, My Space and Plaxo... I'm not exactly proficient on these networks so it takes me time initially to figure out my search parameters but our company has set up a profile on Facebook specifically to attract the millennials. More and more of my clients are looking to hire this generation and we have to go where they play, don't we?

Leslie Mason



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