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: 1131

Comment by Dana Feigel on September 21, 2011 at 4:15am

Hi Bill,

Good to hear from you. I take the same approach as you – in finding passive candidates, I would say that non-recruitment pages are your only chance at success….recruitment pages really serve to attract the active job seekers.  At my company, Surge, our software actually aims to do both. On one hand we attract a very broad circle of passive candidates by offering a technology that enables recruiters to post jobs on their employees’ social media networks as if the employees wrote the statuses themselves. From those statuses, their friends can network and apply for jobs, all the while taking a gamification approach to motivate employee participation. 

On the other hand, we do see the benefits in attracting active candidates through the use of fanpage tabs.  If you take a look at how Surge has helped Microsoft’s Israel R&D Center, you will see that our tabs enable immediate inquiry and application for jobs within a particular company (Join Us tab)!/Micr...

I can see you too are doing some great work with your clients and I follow you blog quite often as wel.


Comment by Valentino Martinez on September 21, 2011 at 5:00am


While you've presented good ideas here regarding "Sourcing through Facebook", like Jerry--I would propose CAUTION.

Starting with your observation that, "Your employees, on the other hand, are considered objective and honest, and their recommendations are reliable."  That statement can cut both ways.  In June of this year, @CNNMoneyJune 20, 2011: 1:07 PM ET authored an article entitled: Half of workers unhappy in their jobs.  It stated:  "

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- I'm outta here!

That's what a lot of disgruntled American workers are feeling these days.

After being squeezed by bosses looking to maximize productivity, half of U.S. employees are actively eyeing the exits or have a less than favorable opinion of their employers, according to a report Monday from Mercer, an outplacement and consulting firm.

Mercer surveyed 2,400 workers in the United States and hundreds more in other countries over the past six months.

Its report said that nearly one in three American workers is seriously considering leaving his or her job, up from 23% six years ago.

In addition, 21% said they have a negative view of their employer and have largely checked out of their job, even if they aren't looking for another one, according to the survey"



This article and it's survey results, which are echoed by many others, suggest you may be right about

employees' being "honest, and their recommendations are reliable."

The problem then becomes their potential to have an honest reversal of opinion about their employer.  Half of an employee population may be on the high side but it is a condition that is being fanned by the recession, overworked employees and news of employers sitting on trillions of dollars.

Then there is the recommendation of:  “Leveraging Employees’ Personal Accounts” on FB.  That too has a high potential to go negative.  Deputizing employees as recruiters, or even, as recruiter liaisons through FB is playing with fire (re: Ben Rooney’s assessment of 50% unhappy employees).  And leveraging their Facebook contacts may bring, the employer, face to face with personal elements/info on an employee that an employee would prefer be kept private.  Such discoveries may even open up a can of worms related to wishing such and such employee(s) not carry the company flag in the recruitment sense.  And if that’s the decision it may lead to a recommendation of termination(s) based on what could be considered an employer’s ploy to leverage FB for employee candidate contacts, but actually using it as a employee screening device.  When that goes down, and it will, it will r

Comment by Bill Boorman on September 21, 2011 at 11:58am
i agree with fanpage tabs on non recruiting pages. Accessability to opportunity
Comment by Dana Feigel on September 22, 2011 at 9:48am

Hi Valentino,

Thanks for your comment.  Just to touch a bit on what you had writtern…For workers who are unhappy in their jobs , they will likely not participate in any sort of employee referral program, whether online or otherwise.  And they will speak negatively about their organization regardless of what platform they are given. 

However, most people have a genuine interest in helping out their friends, and if it means helping them find work, and giving them an opportunity to work together, then they will. Furthermore, for those who do enjoy their workplace, add on a referral bonus and there is no reason they wouldn’t help their organization hire one of their friends.  Finally, with the referral program software that my company, Surge, has developed, job openings are automatically posted on the wall’s of a company’s employees.

Regarding leveraging your employees personal accounts, the idea behind it is not to access any part of the employees accounts, but rather to let the employees serve as a company ambassador to their friend networks.  They relay the employment message to their friends, many of whom are potential top talent and would not have discovered the job opportunity had they not heard about it from the said employee. Used in this manner (and this is how we recommend leveraging the employees’ accounts), the employer in no way can or will come face to face with his employee’s personal and private elements, but he only enhances his employee referral program by broadening the scope of potential talent, and the employee has an increased chance of bringing in more referral with minimal effort.

Comment by Valentino Martinez on September 22, 2011 at 1:03pm

@Dana--appreciate your response, particularly "the idea behind it is not to access any part of the employees accounts" on FB.  Who assures that that idea won't be violated?  The ombudsman? 

And there is no mention of how employees will be trained to be good "company ambassadors" rather than unhappy ones as the survey suggest that at least half of them are: unhappy with their employers. 

And finally, Employee Referral Programs have a tendency to replicate what already exist in the employee population--namely a lack of diversity.  What say you on that concern?  Or is it a concern?

Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on September 23, 2011 at 11:19am

The tool I can't do with out is the phone. I can live with out FACEBOOK


Comment by Dana Feigel on September 25, 2011 at 5:17am

Hi Valentino,

Just to touch on your last comments, a few things.  First, it wouldn’t be that easy for anyone to access their employees personal accounts, if at all, unless that employee “friends” them and grants them visibility to their profile.  So it would not be likely that privacy would be violated as the employee has control over their own settings and with whom it is they connect.

Additionally, as I had mentioned in my previous response to you, for those who are unhappy with their jobs, they will likely not participate in an employee referral program in the first place.  But the key to creating company ambassadors amongst those who are happy with their jobs and organizations is first to create an environment in the workplace that lends itself to people speaking highly about, and representing their company and the opportunities within – you can read our previous blog post on how to create this kind of employment buzz that will organically drive employees to want to represent their companies

Finally, Employee Referral Programs will always exist because, at the end of the day, they have typically brought in some of the best, and most relevant talent to an organization. If an employee is referring their friend for a position within her company, what they are saying is that they have confidence that this referral would be a good fit for the organization and is capable of doing a good job in the position. The referral may or may not come from a similar background as the employee (for instance, my friends – even my close friends – come from various ethnic, educational, and ideological backgrounds), but it is important for the employee to recommend someone who fits within the overall organizational culture of the company. Now that ERP’s can expand to the employees’ entire social media networks, this breadth of backgrounds is likely expanded and ultimately the recruiter will decide who makes the cut for the position and the company.

Thanks again Valentino.

Comment by Ambrish Kochikar on September 26, 2011 at 11:55am
Anyone having success with facebook 'subscribe' yet? it allows you to subscribe (follow) someone's public posts (that he/she chooses to make public) even if you aren't a 'friend' (assuming they allow their posts to be subscribed to). I can imagine some of these newer facebook features making it easier for people to build connections that aren't entirely personal of 'friendly'. and that's a good thing.
Comment by Ivan Stojanovic on September 27, 2011 at 10:51am

Hi Dana,

In your article under: Leveraging Employees’ Personal Accounts
You say:…. “The fact that they would publicly endorse you resonates with their friends, and sends the message that your company is worth looking into.”… might be slightly problematic to implement. You make a number of assumptions here:
1. Your Employees have Facebook Account
2. Your employees actually use that account
3. Your employees will publicly endorse a company they for.
Later on you say:
…” 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.”…

The fact is that one in ten of us has a Facebook account. Total number of Facebook accounts is well below a billion. And there are all those billons of people in the world. So the likelihood your employees have a Facebook account is 1/10. Of course it is far higher in the developed nations. The point I am making is that the assumptions that all your employees use Facebook is very wrong.

The second assumption is that they actually use their account., and if they use it, that they post. Social Media rules say that less than 5% write 95% of the content (or something similar). Therefore the likelihood that even if they still remember their login, and they really open Facebook, - there is 1/20 chance they never wrote anything in it (besides their email and password once long time ago).

And the third assumption – that your employees will publicly endorse their employee? I can see that in ‘90ies working for Microsoft in ‘00ies working for Google, or today working for twitter… but that is all I guess? Will anyone working for any bank or any financial institution be trumpeting on their Facebook wall about how wonderful their bank is? In fact the European data of Facebook usage shows a small percentage of users who even define who their employers is in their Profile. We use Facebook for “Friends & Family” is what some 85% of the people outside of Recruitment will say in Europe. So what is the likelihood of them ‘Endorsing’ their employer on their Facebook page?

The maths from above change from ‘150X150 potential’ to ‘3X2.5 real’ or similar, at least in my experience (and I am a recruiter!). The question then is if it is worth investing in trying to reach this 7 people? Or is any other form of marketing going to deliver more bang for your buck (or Euro)?


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