Does Social Media Technology = Hasta la Vista to Third Party Recruiters?

This post originally appeared at


In 1984, Sarah Connor narrowly escaped being terminated by a cyborg assassin from the future.

Are we in for another cyborg attack?

The job board giants, their niche job board counterparts, the usual social media suspects, new platforms like Google+, innovative ways to meet candidates like Twitter conferences:


Technology has made sourcing easier, and cheaper, for everyone.

Will third party recruiters be terminated by the rise of social media?  Or will humanity rise up, take control this relatively new technology, and harness its power?


It really depends on who you ask - and everyone has an opinion.  I asked the Recruiting Blogs community as well as LinkedIn:

As a recruiter, what challenges do you face as companies have increased access to job-filling technologies like job boards, VMS systems, and social media?

How do you convince companies that using a recruiter is the better route?


To sum up the responses:

The good news:  Job boards haven’t killed recruiting.  Just like the Kyle Reeses and human resistance fighters of the universe, recruiters who believe in their cause will achieve their objective.  Third party recruiters who go beyond the job boards to find the best people/passive candidates will always be in demand.


The bad news:  Cyborg alert!  Savvy companies are using social media to find and seduce passive candidates.  Social networks like Facebook make it easy for employers to tap into their network, announce they have openings, and receive referrals.  Professional social media platforms, like LinkedIn, let anyone put their resume on display for the world to see.  No matter what their status is - happily employed, ready for the next step in their career, or looking for work - professionals are making themselves approachable for networking and job opportunities by third party and internal recruiters/HR alike.


The better news:  The human element prevails over technology.  Sourcing isn’t the only benefit to using a third party recruiter.  Having a list of candidates means nothing if you can’t sell the position to them, get them to sit down and interview with you, get their signature on an employment agreement, and get their foot in the door day one on the job.  Sure, you can program a cyborg to create a Boolean string and search for resumes.  But cyborgs can't appeal to a person’s emotions.


Excellent points:

Access to candidates isn’t always the problem.  The inability to hire the right person without wasting a lot of time is a problem.

As an HR professional, I found that I could always find and hire excellent employees (at all professional levels, including physicians and the highest level executives) without using recruiters. The tools and techniques recruiters use can all be replicated by internal teams. At the risk of being controversial, I think that recruiters may be on their way to extinction.

-Jocelyn Clark

If the internal system is working just fine, thank you very much, probably not much reason to chase that business.  If they're consistently losing top candidates, unable to get people in the door, or there's no urgency, then you speak to how you solve those problems.  Access to candidates doesn't have a damn thing to do with real recruiting as far as I'm concerned.

-Amy Ala

Some organizations have the resources to get by just fine without using an external recruiter, as indicated by Clark.  But not all companies have an internal hiring system that results in great hires.  These are the scenarios in which competent recruiters can excel.


Yes, everyone has access to more candidates.  But when everyone has the same level of access, the competition for top talent grows.

So how do you convince a candidate to join your firm vs. another?  How do you reach desired candidates faster than your competition, and negotiate a better offer than the other company?

-Lisa Zee

Zee goes on to say that because everyone has increased access to candidates, companies will begin experiencing more turnovers, unless their employees are not desirable, or they have clout as the best company in town.  She says that higher turnovers in addition to shortage of top talent will heighten the demand of professional recruiters.  I think she makes an excellent point.

Intuitively, it may seem that increased technology dehumanizes the hiring process, making sales and negotiating skills obsolete.  However, the reverse is true in this scenario.  Third party recruiters with the ability to close the hire are still an excellent asset.


Contingency recruiters can help companies manage time and the bottom line.

Cost of paying an external recruiter versus hiring an in-house recruiter. Your own trusted talent scout that costs you nothing. How cool is that?

-John Comyn

Results-driven recruiters can get the right person for the job in the door fast.  Companies pay a fee, but only for the right person.  They have not wasted internal resources on sifting through hundreds of resumes and turning away unqualified applicants.  Instead, they get a good hire to work right away, keeping productivity and profits at a max.


Technology cannot convey the passion a client has for their company, or a candidate has for their work.  People still like working with people.

When a technology can look a candidate in the eye and dig out their deepest ambitions and motivations, and call a candidate who did not apply for any role and convince them to consider new opportunities - that is when I will start worrying about becoming extinct to technology.

-Sarah Calverley


We can't totally discount the machines.  In the new climate, speed and effectiveness will keep third party recruiters in demand.  A good recruiting software will help you manage the technological aspects of recruiting so that you can focus your efforts on the human elements that keep great recruiters in demand.  Automated VMS solutions, social media buttons, a mobile app, and a business rules engine are just a few of the features a great ATS will offer to help you find and connect with top talent.  Have a passion for your work, use your intuitive match-making ability, and the machines just can’t win.

Views: 788

Comment by Martin Perinne on August 24, 2011 at 10:09am

Interesting post Jessica, from my experience in recruiting with Metric-X,, I don't think social media will have an impact on third party recruiters, especially within information technology which is our focus. A lot of the work done is through subcontractors and working with other agencies to find a contractor for a position. As far as companies having more access to more candidates through Facebook and Twitter, so do recruiters. However, subscriptions to job boards and sites that allow people to apply can be very costly, and I think most companies will not want to incur that cost on the chance of possibly finding a candidate. The only companies I have seen that use job boards are the ones that have an internal recruiting department, which are large companies that are growing fast and constantly need new people. For the smaller companies that can't afford an internal recruiter, contingency is the way to go for them, causing the recruiter to only want to submit the best person he or she can find for the position.  

Comment by Tim Spagnola on August 24, 2011 at 10:21am
Jessica - had to use a Terminator reference? You know my weakness for pop culture references. Lots to take in here...thanks (as always) for sharing....
Comment by Jessica Lunk on August 24, 2011 at 10:24am
nothing puts things into perspective like cyborgs from the future - had to do it.
Comment by Ken Forrester on August 25, 2011 at 10:24am
As of late there has been a lot of blog posts on the subject of TPRs. I wonder why, especially when unemployment is at such a high level? I actually thought that TPRs would be history by now with all the innovation in corporate recruiting and accessibility to passive candidates with the growth of social media! Maybe the real issue is not TPRs; the real issue is most likely the placement fees! Take the placement fees out of the equation and this discord between internal and external recruiters would disappear. Maybe the only reason why TPRs still exist today is because they truly love what they do and are damn good at it too.
Comment by Brian K. Johnston on August 25, 2011 at 10:49am
Thanks for the post.. "

(Yours)"Technology has made sourcing easier, and cheaper, for everyone."

(Mine) "Technology has made sourcing harder... Why? We all share the same DB, hence the ability to sell and influence is mission critical, which typically is a trait TOP TPR's, not CR's"

Comment by Mike Hard on August 25, 2011 at 11:30am

Fun post. What makes a third party recruiter fundamentally different than in-house recruiters? There's gotta be something fundamental. If both have access to the same sourcing tools (like social media), and that's all it's about, then I agree agencies would go away. The problem with that argument is they emphatically have not. There are SO many reasons hiring managers and even the best in-house recruiters turn to agencies, despite all the hassles (and fees).

Comment by Derek Wirgau on August 25, 2011 at 11:49am
Very well done!
Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 25, 2011 at 12:03pm
The headline of this post says it all perhaps by accident. Hasta La Vista, literally translated, means "see you later, or "until I see you". Not adios, as in goodbye. It's been my experience that in most situations where companies decide they are going to take all recruiting in house rather than pay recruiting fees, sure enough, I do see them later. En cuatro o cinco semanas o uno ano. No es possible por technologico hacer un recruiter.

Hasta La Vista , look forward to seeing you again.
Comment by Jessica Lunk on August 25, 2011 at 12:07pm
Brian - thanks for your comment - I completely agree with your statement.  I think by the time I finished reading people's comments and writing this post, that was one of my main takeaways.  Social media has leveled the playing field, making TPRs even more important.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 25, 2011 at 12:14pm
That's really a crappy comment bill :)


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