Social recruiting? It's just a passing fad (unless you're a household name company of course)

Microsoft. Apple. Google. Coca Cola. Virgin. The BBC. What do they have in common? Each of them could advertise on the back of a cigarette packet, put a card in a shop window or float a message in a bottle out to sea and they would still get a good response to their recruitment campaigns. Indeed all of them receive hundreds of unsolicited applications each and every year.


Go to a conference and listen to the head of HR of one of these corporate giants wax lyrical about how social media is an integral part of what they do, has generated great interest and they have even filled a few vacancies through it. Great. I’m genuinely pleased for them. But what about the rest of us? The companies not so many people have heard of or aspire to work for? The unknown SME that may well offer better terms and conditions and brighter career development possibilities?


You'll hear plenty of talk about social recruiting is where it's at. Build a relationship with people. Get a fan page on Facebook. Get people liking your company. Get them wanting to work for you because you sound like such a great, down to earth yet aspirational organisation. The theory's great. The trouble is, it's just a theory. Do individuals really want to announce their interest in working for a particular company when someone from their current employer might be snooping around? Is declaring your love of a certain organisation something people are happy to do in a group or are career aspirations strictly an individual, private thing (not to mention the embarrassment of an adult confessing to ‘liking’ a company. It’s like the virtual note passed under the desk at school - ’I really fancy you’)? Truth is, no one really knows for certain.


What is certain however is that if you go looking online for testimonials about social recruiting as a success story, you'll find they are few and far between. Yes, you'll find the household names extolling the virtues but, as I said, what about the hundreds and thousands of other companies that don't enjoy such a high profile? The information to back up the theory just isn’t out there.


Easy, the social media gurus will tell you. Companies just need to go out there and get themselves a Facebook fan page, tweet a lot, blog about how great they are etc. etc. “Build it and they will come” mentality. But, if every organisation did that then social networks would merely be full of companies talking about how great it is to work for them, so how would a potential candidate be able to differentiate? How would seeing the wood for the trees be any easier? If anything it would get more bewildering and confusing.


Quite simply, social recruiting is an over-rated fad that will only ever get results for well-known companies that people have aspired to work for for years. There, I’ve said it.


Sure, there’s no harm in having a company page that talks about how great an employer you are, just as tweeting your vacancies may possibly generate a bit of interest. But, the social networks themselves are so time critical, so full of transient inhabitants who a lot of the time aren’t looking for a job but just want to talk about their day or crack a joke or tweet a link to a picture of a redneck house built out of multi-storey caravans. There are so many other channels they can use if they’re looking for a job. Plus, no one really knows how many accounts are active and how many have been created by individuals who, once the novelty wore off, just went off and explored the latest fad to come along (right now, they’re probably on Quora. In six months who knows?)


Don’t get me wrong. I think social media as a whole, has its uses. I myself get business from it. It’s also a consumer products company’s dream (low outlay, add in to the whole marketing mix etc) But, as a recruitment vehicle for anyone but the Fortune and FTSE companies, the household names and the high profile? Sorry, but no (though of course I would be more than happy for recruiters to post comments about successes they have had via Twitter, Facebook, Linekdin and the like.


Remember, when I blog, I like to be contentious and generate a lively debate, so don’t take it personally. No one really knows what's down the road for social and this is just my take. Why not prove me wrong with some testimonials that aren't from well-known companies?

Views: 791

Comment by Paul Alfred on February 14, 2011 at 12:41pm
So Alasdair .. From your detailed "Market research" I take it you will exclude professionals who utilize SM fully as  part of their Recruitment Strategy ...  Again ... How is Twitter used by Folks who have a Strategy as supposed to folks who are Tweeting ... Does your "research" draw a distinction as there is a difference ...
Comment by Jerry Albright on February 14, 2011 at 12:47pm

Paul - I enjoy your input on all these threads.  We all bring something to the table.  I've got a question though - I'm gathering you are a proponent of Social Media and are finding results.  But a quick review of your blog site includes the following statements:


"Pinpoint Recruitment Experts Inc., (PRX) is a team of Strategic Recruitment Experts specifically brought together and trained in the skill of finding candidates that are not on the market or on the Job Boards but are interested..............PRX does not utilize job boards or networks and we don’t post jobs on our web site for candidates to apply to......."


So in reading this - one would think you are advertising that indeed you do not use Social Media.


Am I reading this wrong?



Comment by Alasdair Murray on February 14, 2011 at 1:01pm
It's not detailed market research Paul, just my thoughts based on what I personally would be looking for in a recruitment vehicle were I an employer. If I were to advertise on a niche job board I could at least be sure people haven't gone there to celebrity watch or talk about how drunk they got last Friday. At the very least they will be reading about industry news, getting advice or searching for jobs. With facebook and twitter, it's a whole mish mash of bots, porn, celebrity watchers, people posting inanities about their daily life and stream after stream of tweeted links to the same jobs recruiters are piling onto the job boards. In amongst all that carnage is the odd employer with a social media strategy. Fine. It costs nothing other than the time invested in making the decision to go that route, but as i say, the audience they are putting themselves in front of when they choose Twitter or Facebook are, by and large, an unknown quantity, a totally eclectic mix of people from around the world, all with different undefined motives for being there. That to me is massively untargeted and thus isn't the way to go for anyone but the high profile, household name companies that people already aspire to work for, and who thus may possibly get results, but as I say, that's just my point of view. The whole range of feedback on this thread alone shows that it's far from cut and dried either way, but until those testimonials are out there in their hundreds and thousands,until I stop seeing tweets with the headline "I got a job through twitter" (thus suggesting it was an unexpected novelty) or links to youtube videos showing how one person in the world got a job by making a video of himself being whacky, then I'm afraid my jury is still going to be very much out. Not least as I know that there are other channels that are more targeted, have a better reach to industry specific people and where direct employers can, with a creative, well crafted message, get the results they a
Comment by Alasdair Murray on February 14, 2011 at 1:02pm looking for (don't know why the end of themessage dropped off!)
Comment by Suresh on February 14, 2011 at 1:20pm

Alasdair, have to agree with a lot of your points, including the strength of brands.

Personally, I expect companies to migrate to Niche Social Networks such as RecruitingBlogs and others to advertise.  Social recruiting is still not as efficient as good old fashioned job posting on a niche job board (the simplicity and directness of that approach will be tough to beat)

Comment by Pamela Bovaird on February 14, 2011 at 1:34pm

To anyone who does not believe in Social Media as a viable medium you are missing the boat!  Blogging is one such form of social media and all of us are on here discussing the latest issues.  Many others are also advertising for Recruiters on this blogsite.  We all use Linkedin to find candidates.  And, yes there are many candidates on Facebook and Twitter that can be tapped into.  You just have to know how to go about doing it.  Some of it will be trial and error, but if you are doing it and no one else is you will come out ahead of the pack. 


To say that you are only using Social Media and not interested in advertising on even your own website for candidates is ludicrous. 


Researching and finding the blogs your candidates congregate on I believe is very viable for finding candidates.  Look how many people in our industry are on this one.  Don't you think there are other niche blogs that people flock to that are industry specific?


Social Media is any website that offers a place for others to congregate and talk about what is near and dear to their heart.  Sometimes it is about their profession and sometimes it is about their kids or something else.  Even so, just because someone is not talking about their profession on Twitter does not mean they don't have one and that they are not good at what they do.  The trick is to somehow identify how to find a good candidate without spending too much time.


I myself am experimenting with it and I believe the longer it is there the more powerful it will become.  I believe Social Media is way past being just a trend.

Comment by Paul Basile on February 14, 2011 at 1:47pm
This comment stream is itself an example of the phenomenon: people like to make their opinions known.  They like to speak out, be heard. That's what social media does as well as connect us to each other - whether we want to be connected or not in many cases. Do recruiters find candidates through social media?  Of course yes. Do they find better candidates through social media or even more of the same good candidates? Maybe. Can we avoid SM while we figure it out?  Nope.
Comment by Paul Alfred on February 14, 2011 at 2:41pm
Yes ... We don't use Job Boards like our Competition who post on Job boards which also means we don't have resumes coming into us unsolicited that means every candidate we bring in is from a direct Recruit...  We do use SM however a totally different ball game from a Job Board  ... If you  check out my LinkedIn Page you will see how connected we are... We believe that best Candidates are Not on the Market ...but have to be recruited ...  Our Website indicates that we are Really Pinpoint Recruitment Experts ... I just happen to be great at SM because I also do Portal Development work and I work with alot of experts in the space  ... So to sum up  Old School Headhunting Experts that Utilize SM....
Comment by Paul Alfred on February 14, 2011 at 2:54pm
Look at the Power of this exchange in on a SM Format ...  The value is immeasurable without paying for a click through or google AdSense  My friend Jerry quotes my web page drops back on here for more eyeballs which I have not paid a cent for on this Free Blogging site made for HR and Recruiting Professionals  ..  Plus all the folks who read this site without us knowing ... This is a real world example of the Power of SM ... Alasdair ... You can't measure it ...
Comment by Jerry Albright on February 14, 2011 at 3:11pm
@Paul - Do you recruit HR and Recruiting people?


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