Talent Acquisition

The Perils of Social Recruiting

Following an explosion of social media tool and online interaction over recent years, it seems that everywhere you look these days, individuals are talking about social recruiting. Well, for me personally seem to be everywhere I look.

My own personal thoughts are that it’s as if “social media” is being viewed as some new magical treasure trove of otherwise unattainable candidates – which of course it isn’t.

All that’s happened is that the group of people you once attracted via job postings and traditional adverts are now congregating in other places on the internet as well – Social places.

So, individuals who might be considering changing careers might look on the internet for the option available, everybody – regardless of whether they want or need another job, can now be found via social media.

Accounting for a vast majority of social media traffic is the ‘Holy Trinity’ of social media – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. All of which can be used differently when being applied as a recruitment tool, strategically applied to target those in specific industries or jobseekers in general.

Completely judging the types of activity you see on recruiter’s news feeds for social hangouts like LinkedIn and Twitter, anybody would think that social media was some kind of recruiting nirvana where the cream of the crop are waiting around for jobs to be pitched to them……In reality they’re not!

Instead, I view social media platforms as places where the recruiter can target specific types of people, form connections with them, engage with them, build trust and then maybe pitch a job to them at some point in the future, if appropriate.

Instead, the social recruiting you mostly see from recruiters are endless streams of job alerts being fed out to audiences of in many cases, less than a few hundred, very few of whom are potential candidates and most of whom are other recruiters.

To me, the most glaring error recruiters are making is the social part – Mass generic emails rather than taking the time to find out what role (if any) potential candidates want.

Approaching cautiously, before you can start being social, the potential impact of sites like Facebook and Twitter for business are almost always dependent on the size and type of the audience (friends, followers etc), meaning that you have to invest some time increasing your audience before you can do anything of real effect.

So, if you’re insistent on to joining the social media revolution, you should firstly understand and get to grips with the networking site you’re using.


Professional, mostly B2B (Business to Business) with around 400 million users worldwide, some describe it as the world’s largest candidate database, which can certainly be the case but is dependent on what sectors you work in.

LinkedIn is a great for researching and sourcing white-collar, mid-senior level candidates in areas like technology, digital and marketing and allows for direct approaches.


As hub of breaking news and general conversation, from a recruiters point of view, Twitter is a mixture of B2B, B2C and social with a global audience of 300 million users.

Great for joining in, having brief conversations and social/business interaction but totally dependent on having built an appropriate following. Unless you have specific candidate types you want to connect with, Twitter probably isn’t the way forward.


As the largest social site on the internet with a reach of 1.5 billion users, recruiters can be used for mostly B2C interaction. Some individuals who will tell you Facebook is a great place to recruit staff, but it’s more than likely that all of them have a vested interest in that being the case.

I’ve always thought that trying to recruit on Facebook makes about as much sense as going on a pub crawl to search for candidates. Great if the potential candidate pool is huge – otherwise it could be a waste of valuable energy.

With these three platforms dominating recruiters thoughts at the minute, it’s always worthwhile remembering that there are many thousands of other social/business networking sites too – many of them niche and therefore more likely to be relevant to a recruiter if the types of people they need to find are specialist to a particular or narrow sector.

Anti-social sourcing:

The key to ‘cracking’ the usefulness of them all is to understand the culture of the networking site/discussion forum first, before building an audience and communicating with them. Once you have engaged them and people are listening, the more likely it is that they’ll take your job propositions more seriously.

It’s at this point that’s the real candidate sourcing can begin. Otherwise anything else is just trawling.

The closest analogy I can think of is when you go to a social event and someone you’ve just met starts pitching a product or service at you and you immediately switch off. That’s what posting endless jobs on social media sites is like. It’s mindless and it’s anti-social. More importantly, it never reaches the intended candidate audience and it just encourages more of the people who are following you to disconnect.

If I’ve not scared you off, I do genuinely think that social media is a great add-on to your recruitment if you put in the effort early on. If you prefer to just bludgeon your way in, social media is a great way to show the world you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s not a good look for any recruiter.

Author: Joe Sweeney has spent many years working in the recruitment industry with 6 years’ experience managing and growing teams. Joe is passionate about the recruitment industry and how it should be focused on people and relationships rather than a sales-focused environment.

RELATED: What Social Recruiting Apps Actually Work for Candidates?

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