Sourcing through Facebook: From “Nah” to “Yeah!”

“Facebook and Sourcing?  Nah…”

The debate about Facebook’s revolutionary role in online sourcing rages on.  Some recruiters, citing the site’s reputation as a purely social networking site, claim that its informal atmosphere seemingly precludes any serious professional networking (a niche filled by LinkedIn).  Simply put, they say, Facebook users log-on to have fun, not to look for jobs.  


On the contrary.  As a corporate recruiter, integrating Facebook into your standard recruiting regimen will increase your company’s sourcing potential with candidates, exposing them to an advanced level of employer branding, up-to-date job opportunities and a direct way to interact with your team.  Why? Because everyone is on it.  The sheer multitude of Facebook users today provides you with a larger audience, filled with millionsof passive candidates.  Career websites like Monster  and professional networking sites like LinkedIn only draw in people who are looking for jobs and/or to network professionally.  This is great; however, when they complete what they set out to do – searching job boards, posting in a discussion, and maybe, making contact with the right connection at their dream company – there is nothing more for them to do, – therefore, they will log-off.


Unlike these career websites, there’s more to do on Facebook – it isn’t only geared towards one pursuit.  And the more there is to do, the longer the browsing sessions, and the higher the probability for greater employer engagement.  A recent article quotes Will Staney of VMware as saying that “[c]andidates have been 50% more likely to apply for positions they found through Facebook than through other means.” Furthermore, the casual environment which some recruiters blame as Facebook’s handicap in the online sourcing game actually works to its advantage, as it helps to establish a more trusting and positive setting for users. Familiarity with the system dissolves any nervousness or hesitancy they may feel about clicking on a link to find out about a position opening.


And it is precisely because of the growth of relationship-building and interaction between employers and candidates that Facebook plays a crucial role.  As a more personable platform, Facebook enables companies to speak to candidates and answer their questions directly.  It also propels companies’ employer brands, giving them another stage on which to show potential candidates that they are a company which cares about its employees, thus making it a more desirable employer.  (See our recent post on how to use Facebook to create this employment buzz.)   


The Numbers

Take a look at these statistics:

●      Facebook has 750 million users; LinkedIn only has 120 million.

●      According to the official Facebook count, every day close to 50% of users access their accounts.  That’s 375 million people.  A Day.  

●      Every month, users browse for a total of 700 billion minutes; within that time, they share more than 30 billion links.  

●      The average user has close to 150 friends and is connected to 80 pages and groups.

●      The unaffiliated regularly rates accountholder demographics.  As of September 5, 2011, the top five are: the US, with almost 155 million users; Indonesia, with 40 million users; India, with 34.5 million users; Turkey with 30.2 million users; and the UK, with 29.2
million users.


The numbers don’t lie.  That Facebook is the largest and fastest growing worldwide social media network leaves no doubt that it is one of the best sourcing methods for recruiters.


Smart Engagement

So, with so many users on the Facebook grid, how can you narrow your focus and connect with the top-tier potential candidates?


The key is smart engagement.


As a recruiter, you first need to figure out which is the best method by which to effectively appeal to your ideal candidate pool.  To date, recruiters have used three primary methods: 


1. Recruiting Fan Page: A fan page dedicated to everything recruiting at your company.  While it will create awareness about your open positions within the Facebook community, you need to get fans to “like” the page to even make an impact.  Also, maintaining your company’s Facebook Recruiting Fanpage can be a full time job.  You, the recruiter, would need to ensure the content is not only constantly updated and relevant, but also that the page is entertaining and informative, and not only good enough to attract your audience, but retain this audience as well.  Lastly, there is the privacy aspect.  When your fans ‘like’ your page, this update appears on their public newsfeeds – passive candidates, who don’t necessarily want to advertise their interest in new career opportunities, won’t be so open to this.


2. Recruiter’s Personal Facebook Account: Using your own account means you can form real connections with candidates…until you leave your company and take those candidates with you, and your team has to start building relationships from scratch.  In addition, not all recruiters will agree to use their personal profile for work, and candidates looking for more information about job openings can only find your company if they know your full name.  It is impossible to track visitor traffic, and you cannot add other administrators to help you manage it.  Finally, did you know that Facebook restricts personal accounts to 5,000 friends?  If the purpose is to interact with as many people as possible, this would limit your exposure… not to mention, even if you had 5,000 friends (unlikely), not all those friends would be relevant.


3. Career Tab on Company Fan Page: Jumping on board with the marketing team and adding a recruiting tab on the company’s fan page will help you gain followers…if they can find you.  Unlike a fan page, a tab is inconspicuous with minimum visibility.  Because it is only one page, you need to pitch your entire story in one shot.  Furthermore, you will likely have to gain buy-in from the marketing department to include a careers tab as they tend to own and manage the company fan pages.


The three methods mentioned above can certainly be beneficial, and if nothing else, give you exposure in the world of Facebook, however there is a primary method that wins, and fully enables you to maximize your reach of relevant top candidates.  This would be through your employees’ Facebook accounts.


Leveraging Employees’ Personal Accounts

You’ve heard it from us before, and now you’ll hear it again: the key to smart engagement is leveraging your employees’ social media networks.  As a recruiter, you interact with outsiders as an understandably biased party – after all, recruiting is part of your job.  Your employees, on the other hand, are considered objective and honest, and their recommendations are reliable. The fact that they would publicly endorse you resonates with their friends, and sends the message that your company is worth looking into.


Plus, remember that statistic mentioned earlier that the average Facebook user has about 150 friends?  Multiply 150 by your total number of employees, and you automatically have several thousand potential candidates in your audience.  There are many ways to motivate your employees to actively promote open positions within your company, such as pairing this tactic with your company’s Employee Referral Program and rewarding employees for the candidates they have brought you.



The power of Facebook can clearly be harnessed to advance your company’s employer engagement potential – just follow the numbers.  Speculations about the impact Google+ holds for Facebook have yet to be absolutely demonstrated, and judging by Facebook’s continuing growth in new users and revenue, it’s safe to continue to rely on its proven track record.


So embrace the future.  The traditional sourcing methods of Recruitment 2.0 are giving way to a more

interactive and innovative system of dynamic engagement with candidates.  Reaching out to them on a familiar platform like Facebook increases their receptivity and interest.  And doing so via your employees lends genuine honesty to your message and allows you to fully embrace this new Recruitment 3.0 world.

We at Surge-Hire took note of the utility of the Facebook community, and are experts in helping companies empower their employees to maximize their employer engagement on Facebook.  

Views: 1173

Comment by Tim Spagnola on September 19, 2011 at 10:50am
Wow Dana - lot's of good information here. Facebook like Twitter has a role at my desk, but does not translate into placements. But that is just for my niche. I agree with you that the numbers pertaining to Facebook are just too hard to deny. Thanks for sharing this post. There is a lot to chew on here.
Comment by Emily Giorgi on September 19, 2011 at 12:02pm
Do you feel candidates are leary about becoming "friends" with a possible professional contact or is this a non issue with the improved security settings which cater to what people can see? I personally do not want to see the party and vacation pics of my potential prospects.
Comment by Francois Guay on September 19, 2011 at 2:50pm

Great post...the key as you mentionned it is to tie into corporate recruitment strategy at your company. The employee referral program is the biggest of those HR focused programs. Many more in HR and across the company should be leveraged to increase your companies ability to recruit and do business.



Comment by Dana Feigel on September 20, 2011 at 4:13am

Hi Emily!

 Great question.  Not only do you not want to see the party and vacation pics of your potential prospects, but even more so, THEY don’t want you to see them either!  For this reason, if you use Facebook strategically, then you will not need to “friend” potential candidates and you will likely get more bang for your buck. 

Just to reiterate from the article, the best way to use Facebook for sourcing the best and most relevant candidates is to leverage the Facebook of your employees.  As company ambassadors, your employees can represent your company to their hundreds of Facebook friends, advertise jobs, and even serve as networking contacts.  They can do this themselves in a more organic “word of mouth” fashion, through creating buzz by sharing company events and opportunities they may know of.  Or my company, Surge, developed a software that automatically posts job posts on the walls of company employees as if they wrote the statuses themselves. It’s been working great for our customers because it expands the employee referral program to a much broader audience, and from the statuses themselves, employees’ friends can learn about the job, network and apply directly.   This way  you don’t have to friend anyone, everyone’s information is kept private and you as a recruiter are able to attract hundreds, if not thousands more referrals from your employees networks.

I hope that answered your question Emily, I’d be happy to chat further and answer any other questions you may have.

Comment by Dana Feigel on September 20, 2011 at 4:22am

Hi Francois,

Thank you for reading! Have you implemented any unique social media/referral program tactics at your organization or in the past with your clients? I would love to hear about what people are doing!


Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on September 20, 2011 at 9:46am
Facebook is just one tool to use it works for some but not all.
Comment by Jerry Albright on September 20, 2011 at 10:30am

I disagree whole-heartedly with the "everyone's a recruiter" notion.  Why do we all think people/employees/friends/relatives are so interested in helping US do our jobs?


It just doesn't happen that way. 

Comment by Bill Boorman on September 20, 2011 at 1:27pm


I'm doing a lot of work with social referrals at the moment, be glad to hook up.  My experience of Facebook recruiting for Hard Rock and Oracle has taken me to slightly different conclusions. The difference being that I have found non recruitment pages work much better. This attracts far more passive candidates, attracted by internal employer postings about life at the company. The addition of a tab for jobs (I use work4labs) drives applications. This is now about 45% of the applications from EMEA Oracle. 

You can see the Oracle community at

My post on the latest social refferal tech/thinking is at

Comment by Dana Feigel on September 21, 2011 at 2:18am

Hi C.B,

I couldn’t agree with you more. There are many great tools out there, however I would say that Facebook is one of the primary tools that should not go by the wayside.  To your point, there are certainly some business models where Facebook may not be as relevant as others, and it’s important to be conscious of your organization type, culture, and recruiting audience before you decide on which tools to leverage.  Thanks for your comment!

Comment by Dana Feigel on September 21, 2011 at 2:39am

HI Jerry,

Thanks for your comment as well. I agree – I don’t believe everyone should be “a recruiter”. But I do know that many organizations really rely on their employee referral programs to hire top talent. For those that do, it is their employees who really impact this program.  In general, people are genuinely interested to help out their friends, and if they get the chance to potentially work with those friends and likely be compensated for their efforts as well, a company’s employees would not hesitate to help with the recruiting process.  Of course, this interest goes hand in hand with the company culture. It may not fit for employees at every company to help with the recruiting efforts but more often than not, employees will not object to helping out a friend and a company for which they enjoy working. Thanks again!


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