Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

What are the Pitfalls of Social Recruiting?

Social recruitment has turned into a norm from an exception that it was two years back. With everyone looking to find ways for using the ubiquitous social networks for their benefits, it doesn’t come as a surprise that social recruitment has caught on like anything. While some might argue over the “unmatched” benefits of social recruiting, the truth is that it comes with its own set of perils.

The 2013 Jobvite Social Recruiting survey offered convicting proofs about the relevance of social  recruitment. As per the findings, 94% of the companies were either using or planned to use social media as recruitment tool. In fact, a whopping 78% had already met with success while using social media, making at least one hire through it. 3 out of 4 recruiters take a look at the candidate’s social media profile before proceeding further with hiring him. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter remain recruiters’ social networks of choice, while emerging channels include Instagram, Youtube, GitHub, Blogs, Yammer and Stackoverflow. Given that a majority of working or employable population is actively using at least one social network, using social media as a part of the sourcing strategy does make a lot of sense. However, while social recruitment has its own benefits, there are some potential pitfalls that every recruiter must be aware of before pushing recruitment through social media.

Encroaching upon a candidate’s right to privacy

Barring LinkedIn, all other social networks aren’t meant to serve any professional purpose. People share everything and anything they find worth sharing on their profiles as the last thing they expect is some recruiter sneaking on their profile to find whether he is a worthy candidate for a vacancy. Therefore recruiters need to be careful to respect an applicant’s privacy. Most of the major economies of the world have a law in place to protect the privacy of an individual. Once you review a candidate’s online profile, according to law you are aware of the candidate’s “protected characteristics” such as age, sex, ethnicity amongst others. Such information, known through the social profile of the candidate should not be made a reason to deny him or her job, or at least an interview. According to David Baffa, labor and employment partner at Syfarth Shaw, LLP, “If you choose to review social media as part of your hiring practices, it’s a better practice to wait until after you’ve met a candidate face to face,”

We see plenty of advice on the web about how important profile pictures are for a candidate’s job search efforts. This works as a double edged sword for job seekers as some recruiters confess to drawing inferences about the candidate from their Facebook profile pictures, subjecting them to unfair scrutiny or bias. According to a survey, 30 percent of respondents would consider taking legal course if they had been declined an interview or job based on a potential employer viewing their social media profile. If you decide to not hire a candidate after viewing the profile, even if the reason is legitimate, simply having viewed such protected information can leave you vulnerable to legal risks.

Social recruiting is time consuming as well as resource-heavy

Setting up Facebook or Twitter account is one thing, while using them effectively for recruitment is another. In order to turn these channels into a significant recruitment tool one has to feed them with a steady stream of content.  Organizations have to dedicate separate resources for ensuring a continuous and healthy social media presence. Creating and managing online communities is a painstakingly time consuming process and thus requires constant efforts and special attention, which would obviously add to the cost to company.

Social media research works both ways. New applicants and hires could be searching for you and therefore it would be ideal to have a strong social media presence to create a strong brand. However, not every company has the time or resources to generate a social media marketing plan and online content strategy. Either they will have to hire HR heads those already have such expertise or recruit separate social media experts for managing the recruitment efforts on social media.

Going anti-social

All social networks are built differently, having different audience and dynamics. A mistake that most recruiters do is bombarding all social channels with same, generic job postings. If you do want to make the most of social media revolution, firstly get to grips with the networking site you are using. LinkedIn is apt for sourcing white-collar, mid-senior level candidates, while Twitter is great for joining in, having conversation, generating brand awareness and not much sourcing. Once you have a clear understanding of the differences and the similarities, real candidate sourcing can begin. Otherwise, you risk going anti-social.

Risk of excluding applicants without social media profiles

There are still a sizeable chunk of professionals who are averse to social media. After all there are many evidences out there that suggest one is better off without social media than being on it.  So what happens to such candidates? Recruiters always run the risk of not hiring such candidates even if they are qualified and suited for the position. Thus, as a HR decision-maker by using social media you might be disadvantaging candidates who do not have access to it.

Keeping in mind all these points is necessary while dedicating your social media efforts for sourcing & hiring.

Author: Saurabh Tyagi is an author for

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