white paper

How to Effectively Use Social Networks to Recruit Talent - Whitepaper


As a recruiter, you want to find the most qualified, talented, and largest pool of applicants. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have over 1.2 billion combined users. That equates to a lot of potential talent for your company.

As more and more people join social networks and leverage them for job searching, social recruiting is becoming an imperative for companies. Recruiters at companies large and small are leveraging social networks, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, to attract potential job candidates.

But what are some of the other benefits of social recruiting? And how do you get started?


Build Your Employment Brand

Social media is a mechanism for conveying your company culture to potential recruits and attracting new staff. You can brand your social media channels, post photos, and host videos. Customers and job seekers should be encouraged to participate in discussions, and employees should promptly address questions and comments.

The use of social media allows potential recruits to get a feel for what the company is like before they apply or join. By encouraging potential recruits to get to know the company culture before accepting a position, you ensure the candidate is the right fit for the company.

Reach Passive Candidates

Many people that are not currently looking for a job are still using social networks. But some of these professionals may be a great fit for the role you are looking to fill, and might be tempted to apply if they knew you had a vacancy. Even if many of these passive candidates have no current interest, you can begin building relationships before they decide to look for a new job. By using social media, you can greatly expand your talent pool by getting your jobs in front of passive candidates.

Supplement Your Employee Referral Program

Employee referral programs are a highly effective recruiting tool. In fact, studies from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reveal that more than 80 percent of organizations rank these programs as the number one source of high-quality hires.1

You can use social media to engage existing employees in the hiring process. Educate your employees and managers on how to use social networks for professional purposes and encourage them to get involved. Employees can then post open requisitions to their own social networks. They can also post relevant industry news that may interest potential candidates.

Learn More about the Background of Candidates

A recruiter can understand a great deal about a person by evaluating their LinkedIn profile. For example, a LinkedIn member will usually include a resume of past and current jobs. You can see recommendations from peers, managers and colleagues, as well as what groups the person has joined. You can also determine if you have any second or third degree connections, so you can get a more personal referral.

Similarly, on other networks, you can learn a lot about a person’s interests and professional standing. However, be careful not to expose your organization to potential legal risks. Information that candidates post on social networks such as religious or sexual preference could be argued as used against them in the screening process. Your company needs to be able to demonstrate that a hiring decision was made based on a candidate’s skills and experience.

To avoid the risk of civil rights lawsuits or OFCCP violations, you can use applicant tracking software. Robust applicant tracking systems allow recruiters to tap into the power of social networks while tracking the parameters considered relevant by the OFCCP. Users can request EEO information from every applicant and accurately capture reasons for non-election for every applicant. They can also easily generate reports required by the OFCCP.

Lower Recruitment Costs

Accounts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all free to set up, so one advantage of social media is its potential to lower recruitment costs. Posting job openings through Facebook or LinkedIn is more likely to deliver results than a single description on a job board, because social media job postings can be shared with others. Many organizations have saved large sums of money by leveraging the power of social media, which allows them to cut back on recruiting agencies and expensive job boards.

Choosing Your Channels

All social sites are different, and all warrant different approaches. As a first step, decide who you are trying to attract and tailor your strategy to that particular group. You may want to start with one social media site, familiarize yourself with it, and grow your presence gradually.

Here is an overview of the three largest social media networks:

  • Twitter
    Twitter is a microblogging social networking site. Messages, or tweets, are no more than 140 characters. Twitter has over 300 million users, generates more than 300 million tweets per day, and handles more than 1.6 million search queries per day.

    According to the website, “Twitter connects businesses to customers in real-time. Businesses use Twitter to quickly share information with people interested in their products and services, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and influential people. From brand lift, to CRM, to direct sales, Twitter offers businesses a chance to reach an engaged audience.”

    Twitter is meant for updates about what is happening at the current moment. It offers a way to broadcast information widely about positions that need to be filled.
  • LinkedIn
    LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 155 million members in over 200 countries and territories.

    LinkedIn is the most popular social networking site for professional recruiters. The site is focused on fostering professional networking, and its user profiles can amount to ready-made resumes.
  • Facebook
    Facebook is the largest of the social networking sites with more than a billion users worldwide. According to Facebook, “Millions of people use Facebook every day to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.” Although Facebook started as a social utility to connect people with friends and family, it has expanded to include connections to organizations, businesses, and interests.

    Facebook offers access to the largest pool of candidates, and is especially useful for recruiting Generation Y.

    While LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the giants in the social networking market, there are also niche communities that you should consider including in your strategy. MyVetwork, for example, is a professional social networking site for military veterans. MiGente and Black Planet serve the Latino and African American communities. Each of these sites has job boards and active professional discussions going on, and offers a way to reach a more diverse set of candidates.
Getting Started

Here are some quick tips on how to get started with social recruiting in the three most popular channels:

  • Twitter
    Start by setting up an account with your company name, a photo, and a brief bio. Begin with a few interesting tweets, and then start following others.
    Run a quick search on Twitter for anybody discussing a specific keyword and you can find hundreds of contacts. Target people to follow who work in the industry, people who may have the skills you need, or people who may be linked to those people. Oftentimes these people will follow you back, and you’ll build your list of followers.

    The easiest way to recruit is to tweet jobs you have available, i.e.: “looking for a marketing coordinator in NYC. Apply at (include a shortened URL using http://bitly.com/).” To make your job posting tweets standout, you can also use hash tags. Hash tags are used as a way to filter and find information on Twitter. Include the hashtag with a keyword in your tweet and it becomes instantly searchable. Here are a few examples of hashtags you may want to consider using: #job, #hiring, #career, #sales rep. In the same manner, you can search and source directly for job seekers, using keyword search.

    You shouldn’t just use your Twitter account to post job openings; you should also use it to keep potential candidates interested and engaged. You can market events you will be attending, post company updates, or relevant industry news. Your tweets say a lot about your company and corporate culture.
  • LinkedIn
    Start by making your company profile. Go to www.linkedin.com/companies and click the “add a company’ button on the right-hand side. Once your company profile has been created, make sure you keep it relevant and up to date. Edit regularly with job postings and updates on the company.

    You can actively search for candidates among LinkedIn members by searching on keywords for people with the required qualifications listed in their LinkedIn profile. It is also often a good idea to search for potential employees by past or current employer who may have employed people with the skills and experience you seek for your company. You can then send an Inmail to candidates directly, or if you share a connection, request an introduction.

    Joining groups is another effective way to attract potential candidates. Join industry or skill set groups and advertise your roles. Once you join a group, find ways to begin discussions with people in that group. You can contact people individually, or people may directly contact you.

    A final option you have is advertisements. With LinkedIn Ads, you can target a specific audience by job title and function, by industry and company size, by seniority and age, and by LinkedIn groups.
  • Facebook
    Start by creating an engaging company page, and make sure that all content is relevant and up to date. On Facebook, you can decide to keep your page public or private. If you decide to keep it public, people can “like” your page, and will then be notified of jobs or any other updates you post.

    Another option is to post a Facebook ad. Facebook can target ads to the exact audience you are looking to reach. For example, if your company is in New Jersey, and you are not including relocation in the budget for this position, you can target the job posting to only be shown to people who live in New Jersey or bordering states. If the position is an entry level position, you can target the job posting to a younger demographic.
Measuring Results

The overall goal of social media is to build a large, high quality talent pool. A sampling of measurable goals using social media include:

  • Increase traffic to career site
  • Increase engagement of Facebook Fans
  • Increase follower count on Twitter
  • Increase traffic to job postings

You can also measure how social recruiting directly impacts the bottom line by reporting on:

  • Top sources of hire
  • Sources for high performers
  • Time to fill
  • Cost per hire

Before you implement your social media strategy, track key metrics on your current sourcing and recruiting efforts. Then, set goals that you would like to accomplish with social recruiting.

How iCIMS can Help

It takes time and resources to build a social media presence. By working with iCIMS, you can increase efficiency, reach more candidates, and improve the candidate experience.

With iCIMS’ Social ATS, you can simultaneously post jobs to hundreds of social media sites of your choosing. You can even schedule the postings to occur at certain times and at certain frequencies. In addition, you can optimize your social media postings, making it easy for people to share them. You can also enable employees to automatically post jobs to their own social networks, so that your jobs will reach hundreds of others of even more potential applicants. With iCIMS’ advanced social media technology, you can even enable candidates to apply with their social media profiles, so that they never have to leave Facebook or LinkedIn. Whenever the candidate updates his or her social profile, it will automatically update in your ATS. This means that if you decide to look back at a candidate sometime after the candidate originally applies, you will have the most recent version of his or her resume. In addition to helping the recruiter, the “social apply” feature greatly enhances the candidate experience by simplifying and shortening the application process.

Another area where iCIMS can be a tremendous help is in measuring results. iCIMS’ Social ATS can help you report on top sources of hire, sources for high performers, time to fill and cost per hire. You can then present this information with charts and graphs in a dashboard view. Social recruiting will improve your hiring metrics in the long run, and you will be able to demonstrate the impact with easy-to-interpret visual aids.

1Laurano, Madeline. (2011, October). Employee Referrals 2.0. Retrieved from http://www.hrotoday.com/content/4991/employee-referrals-20