Monday, August 6, 2012

Are Recruiting and Hiring Practices Modified with the Advent of Social Networks?

Selecting competent and compatible employees is a challenge for any company; first you have to find them, then you have to evaluate them. Today, companies have a new option: social recruiting. 

Trends & benefits in using social recruiting

In the article entitled 'Methods for Recruiting and Evaluating Job Candidates', David Shiplacoff presents his research on the challenges in reaching large pool of prospective candidates using traditional word-of-mouth networking, professional organizations, advertizing and search firms.  He concludes that networking with other professionals and using search firms 'can help recruit larger numbers of suitable candidates.' These are the challenges that social media recruiting addresses particularly well.

In a Forbes article entitled Recruiting, Reinvented, Chirag Nangia, CEO of Reppify, indicates that 'Social media can be a great source for discovering passive candidates – those who are employed but ‘open’ to changing jobs for the right opportunity – who represent nearly half of all currently employed talent'.

According to the Jobvite 2012 survey, recruiters responded that companies care about social recruiting because of the following reasons: 
  • 49% saw an increase in quantity of candidates
  • 43% reported an increase in candidate quality
  • 20% reported it took less time to hire
  • 31% saw increase in employee referrals

Photo: Courtesy of Courney Shelton Hunt Courtney Hunt adapted the traditional recruitment
and selection “funnel” to illustrate how social media activity is incorporated into the overall hiring process. In her blog 'Social Media and Recruiting 101', she also offers social recruiting recommendations for employers in each phase along the funnel: referrals, sourcing, recruitment, selection, screening and final selection.

Why does social recruiting work

Social recruiting works well on the three leading platforms because:
  • It's Where People Are: 901 million Facebook users, Twitter accounts numbering over 500 million, and more than 161 million users on LinkedIn
  • Has a Built-In Network for Referrals: The vast networks that are created through social media provide an excellent system of information sharing that can result in referrals and recommendations that amplify your voice and reach. 
  • It’s Targeted: Social recruiting allows you to target your job postings to not just anyone, but to specifically reach highly qualified potential candidates through specified outreach efforts.
  • Candidates Can Qualify You, Too: Social recruiting gives potential applicants the chance to quickly and easily learn more about your company, determining whether they feel the position would be a good mutual fit.
Moreover, professors Jamie Guillory and Jeffrey T. Hancock from Cornell University studied ‘The Effect of LinkedIn on Deception in Resumes’ and found that job applicants were less likely to lie about past work experience on their LinkedIn profile than they were on a traditional resume. Simply because claims are more easily verified in a public on-line setting, so liars are more likely to get caught. 

Talent Communities : a new trend in referral and sourcing quality candidates

In order to source more qualified candidates, many organizations have started using talent communities.  A talent community unites the candidates who’ve shown interest in the company, but are not attached to a specific job yet. In talent communities organizations have a chance to start building a relationship with potential candidates. The candidates are given an opportunity to disclose more about who they are and what they are interested in. When jobs do open up, they simply look at their talent community and contact their top prospects. Jobs don’t need to be posted on job boards anymore. So, today a job seeker who is sitting around waiting for openings is really missing the boat.

Talent Communities Using Facebook

With more than its 900 million users globally, Facebook has a huge potential to reach the right candidates. Late summer 2012, Facebook is expected to launch its own job board. The job board will aggregate the job postings of third party providers such as Jobvite, BranchOut and Work 4Labs within the Facebook environment. This is considered a follow-up of Facebook partnership with US Department of Labor to explore and develop systems where job postings can be delivered to prospects without cost. 

Here are some of the companies having powerful talent communities built around their Facebook Career Pages:

Recruiting Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most popular social media site (93%) used by recruiters to source candidates. LinkedIn focuses on corporate recruiting & talent management as a business model. In the Forbes article entitled LinkedIn is Disrupting the Corporate Recruiting Market, Josh Bersin presents the drastic revenue increase generated by LinkedIn’s recruiting services (‘Hiring Solutions’). LinkedIn is now the fastest growing public provider of corporate recruiting solutions, bypassing Taleo and approaching

Using Twitter to Create a Talent Community

In May 2012, Staples launched the @StaplesCareers Twitter handle as a platform for sharing jobs and social engagement.

Twitter can be incredibly valuable for recruiting, here are additional tips on how to recruit on twitter.
Another example of social media engagement within recruitment and employer branding is the use of Instagram by Starbucks Coffee. According to Jeremy Langhans, former Starbucks Employee Branding manager, Instagram gave the company a much more fun image and turned the uncool job into a great place to work.
As effective as a talent community can be, building it does not happen overnight! You must set up your profiles and work to build a community before you broadcast job openings, as suggests. Start early, build your network and then leverage that network for job candidates.

Once you have located those potential candidates, social media can also be helpful in screening them.

Screening candidate - Using Social Media

As social recruiting gain in popularity, more HR professional use social media to screen potential candidates.  Don Kluemper, a professor of management at Northern Illinois University’s College of Business, and a team of researchers, confirmed that 'impressions gleaned from a five- to 10-minute perusal of Facebook pages were actually a stronger predictor of a candidate’s likelihood to excel in a job than the personality surveys that many companies require job candidates to complete.’

Erik Qualman is the author of best seller Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business and the founder of the Socialnomics website. Talks about using social media and Klout for screening candidates.

Legal Aspects of Social Screening

Web searches on candidates can reveal many types of information, including information deemed ‘Protected Class’ (race, gender, religion, etc.). It can be dangerous to assess candidates’ social media properties. Employers, must be careful to not use this information to discriminate against candidates. Attorney Kevin V. Maltby Employment Lawa Specialist presents the issues.


Renee Jackson, a renowned Labor and Employment Lawyer, in an interview with Forbes in May 2012 said that ‘A particular hot topic for employers is the legal grey area surrounding the various online “tools” that are being used to assist in the hiring process. For example, employers who are “Googling” applicants, contracting with third parties to conduct social media background checks, or using so-called measures of influence (such as Klout) to make hiring decisions. These tools, if used incorrectly, are fraught with legal risk.’

Peter Cappelli, in his Harvard Business Review article entitled 'Making the Most of On-Line Recruiting' confirms that perhaps the biggest risk- and certainly the one that employers are the least prepared to address - is the possibility of running afoul of antidiscrimination laws.' The law is lagging far behind technology in most instances, and employment, discrimination, privacy, and defamation laws are no exception. At this point, the privacy line seems to be drawn at any non-public Internet or social media sites where access to information requires authorization or permission.

However, it is critically important to note that just because information in the public domain is fair game for employers to look at, it does not mean that employers can lawfully use that information in the hiring process.

Recommendations for Employers Using Social Recruiting:

  • Pick the right Social Network
  • Target the right candidates
  • Make applying simple
  • Sell yourself
  • Do not ask for password of employee/applicant for screening
  • Do not ‘shoulder surf’ with employee/applicant  for screening
  • Do not forget that non-discrimination laws apply to information, regarless of the source
  • Develop policies regarding Internet screening
  • Train your HR personnel on applicable laws

Recommendations for Individuals to Manage Personal Brand

In light of these online continuous mechanisms used by hiring corporations, how should individuals manage their personal brand on the Web? First, understand what hiring professionals are looking for while checking the online profiles?

Here is what recruiters, interviewed for the Guardian article by Cary Cooper Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University Management School, look for:

  • consistency of information between CV and online profiles
  • evidence of involvement in community activities 
  • a presence on a business network such as LinkedIn 
  • anything to demonstrate good communication skills

  • evidence of a negative or bad attitude, revealed through too much complaining or ranting
  • anything that suggests a candidate is intolerant or extreme in opinion 
  • bad mouthing other people, especially employers
  • anything that exaggerates or is too self-promotional

Surprisingly, even though vast majority of job candidates (88%) realize that recruiters will look for the on-line information, only 33% of them searched for their name to verify what information is available about them. Courtney Hunt has additional recommendations for individuals about social screening.

No On-line Presence can be as Damaging as Bad On-line Presence

Not having an online profile on LinkedIn, will prevent recruiters from contacting the candidate for potential hire. According to the article entitled Career Suicide by Social Media, if recruiters come along the resume that does not have corresponding social presence - it might raise some red flags. Some of the concerns are about candidate failing to adapt to new environment.


Social recruiting offers many advantages and is here to stay, but employers and potential employees have to use this tool wisely.

Courtney Hunt writes 'Cyberspace adds a new dimension to the recruitment and selection process, however the rules are generally the same as before. It's incumbent upon the employer to ensure that the criteria they're using to select candidates are job relevant, non-discriminatory, and legally defensible.'

Author Erik Qualman warns that gone are the days of schizophrenic behaviors in different areas of our lives. What happens in Vegas stays on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter forever. So your offline activity captured and integrated to your ‘digital shadow’ may affect your job! You may want to live as if your mother was watching! 

Authors: Chantal Rodier, Erdi Yuksel, Roman Rus

For more information, please refer top the following sources:

  1. "Recruiting, Reinvented: How Companies Are Using Social Media In The Hiring Process" article on by Lisa Quast, 2012
  2. Social Recruiting Survey 2012, Jobvite
  3. "Social Media and Recruiting 101: To Screen or not to Screen" by Courtney Hunt, 2011
  4. The Effect of LinkedIn on Deception in Resumes, Jamie Guillory and Jeffrey T. Hancock. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. March 2012, 15(3): 135-140. doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0389.
  5. "Challenging the Idea of Talent Community" article by Ray Anne, 2011 
  6. "Facebook To Launch Job Board" article by Joseph Walker, 2012
  7. LinkedIn is Disrupting the Corporate Recruiting Market, article on by Josh Bersin, 2012,
  8. Staples Gets Social with New Social Recruiting Initiatives [CASE STUDY], by Autumn McReynolds, 2012
  9. Five Tips for Social Recruiting on Twitter, by Patrick Neeman , Jobvite, 2011
  10. Instagram: The Next Frontier for Social Recruiting & Employer Branding? article on, 2012
  12. Webinar: Optimize Your Network to Generate Referral Hires in Five Simple Steps, by Ryan St. Germaine, Jobvite
  13.  DONALD H. KLUEMPER1, PETER A. ROSEN, KEVIN W. MOSSHOLDER; Social Networking Websites, Personality Ratings, and the Organizational Context: More Than Meets the Eye? Journal of Applied Social Psychology Volume 42, Issue 5, pages 1143–1172, May 2012
  14. Making the Most of On-Line Recruiting by Peter Cappelli, Harvard Business Review, March 2011
  15. Social Media, Passwords, and the Hiring Process: Privacy and Other Legal Rights, by Lisa Quast, 2012
  16. "You've been Googled: what employers don't want to see in your online profile", by Cary Cooper, 2011
  17. Social screening: candidates – and employers – beware, by Courtney Hunt., 2010
  18. Career Suicide by Social Media How social media can wreak havoc on your career, by Annette Richmond