Talent Acquisition

How Recruiters Can Get Started with Social Media

As part of the Ask the Expert panel over at the Institute of Recruiters, I got a question about social media and recruitment agencies which I thought I’d share here on the blog.


I am trying to introduce the features and benefits of various Social Networks to our Consultants. The two biggest areas for us are resourcing and branding. My biggest challenge to date is educating the more old-fashioned ‘phone and email’ recruiters on the benefits of Social Media. I understand that it will never replace the phone, but how best do you think I can overcome the objections of those that have never used Social Media and create excitement around the new possibilities it creates?

Answer (rest of this post):

Some recruiters have taken to social media from day one, others are a little skeptical and then there is the old school brigade who thinks it’s all just a waste of time. This sometimes depends on which industry you are operating in; if you recruit PR professionals you would use Twitter as a primary tool. If you recruit nuclear engineers, you may not have much use of social media at this stage. The key here is to know your target audience.

Social media impact on UK companies

How much of an impact has social media really made for companies? Some very fresh stats about large UK companies from The Group show that:

  • 1.9m people connect with companies on LinkedIn
  • Over 1.7m people follow FTSE100 corporate Twitter accounts
  • There are 19m fans of FTSE100 corporate Facebook Pages
  • January to June 2012 there were 62.1m views of corporate YouTube videos.

This confirms that there is a sizeable following of large companies on social media, and it is growing by the day according to The Group. As a rule of thumb, people don’t go on social media to look for jobs but they are happy to consider them when prompted. LinkedIn says that 20% of their users are actively looking for jobs at any given time, meaning 80% are passive candidates.

Let me elaborate on the two main areas you have highlighted; sourcing and branding and take a closer look at each social network.


Most recruitment professionals use LinkedIn nowadays, at least as a people directory as it has 10 million users in the UK (and 2 out of 3 professionals have a profile). It is a social network focussing on professionals and can be a goldmine if you know how to use it properly. There are several ways to source active and passive candidates on LinkedIn, both inside LinkedIn and using 3rd party tools. If your team isn’t using the big L as a primary recruitment tool you are missing out.

As for branding on LinkedIn, there are endless opportunities. You can of course do updates on individual profiles, you can also run relevant polls and ask/answer questions (in the Answers section). You can get active in industry groups, or better yet you can run your own group and get peers to exchange useful information in your forum. You can also use your company page to do targeted updates to followers based on location, language, seniority, and more.

More ideas: How LinkedIn is Transforming the World of Recruitment


Twitter is another social network that can be used effectively for sourcing, it’s relatively easy to use tools to locate the right conversations happening. Once you find users talking about your niche, you know these people are either good for your positions or they can refer others. You can also search through every users’ bio on Twitter, as it’s really short it tends to cover the most important keywords that you need for sourcing.

Branding on Twitter is extremely useful, by having an account that puts out information about your industry and occasionally spits out a job or two, you let users sum up what your company is all about very quickly. If a social media savvy candidate gets two emails, both from similar agencies but one has an active and interesting Twitter feed – which one will instill more trust?

Related reading: The Top 5 Twitter Apps for Recruitment.

Viadeo & Xing

If you happen to recruit in Europe as well, you may want to check out continental sites like Viadeo (France) and Xing (Germany) which have a better reach of professionals in those countries. The only snag with these is that you almost have to pay to get decent access to other users, unlike most other networks.


I thought I’d mention Facebook last as the mere mention of the name scares off the ‘money is on the phone’ type of recruiters. At the moment you’ll find that Facebook is pretty much useless for sourcing, it’s not even indexed by Google. The world’s largest social network has deliberately made it difficult to find people through searches, perhaps because they expect that candidates don’t want to be contacted here for jobs.

You can however still use Facebook to cross-reference candidates and it is useful for branding, especially if you represent a well-known brand. You can get users to ‘like’ your Facebook Page and thereby agree to get regular updates from your company – this basically adds them to your talent network. Once they see something of interest (be that a vacancy, an event, or a free download), they will take action and get one step closer to talking about their career with you.


Those are some benefits of social media in recruitment that would apply to most companies. Again, some industries will be better suited to some social networks and some may not be right for social media at all. It comes down to knowing your target audience; knowing where they hang out online and making sure you have a presence – they already expect you to.

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