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Aug 8, 2012

Social recruitment: What not to do

3 common mistakes that will sink your social media strategy

By Harpaul Sambhi

I have seen many organizations go about social HR the wrong way.

They get excited about the buzz around social networks — they create a Facebook group, invite employees, post jobs and sit back and wait to become an online sensation. After a while, when only a handful of users have joined up, the excitement subsides and impatience sets in.

The organizations start to wonder why users aren’t referring jobs to people in their network. Why hasn’t the page gone viral? There are three common mistakes organizations make when it comes to social media.

Mistake 1: Forcing employees and their connections to join

Common sense says employees would want to become a fan of their organization on Facebook or join a corporate group on LinkedIn and encourage friends to do the same, since more  exposure equals a higher chance someone will buy the organization’s products or services.

This is an example of using “supporting a cause,” one of the intrinsic engagement factors I talked about recently when I introduced the ebook on best practices on employee referrals.

However, only about 10 per cent to 15 per cent of employees are passionate about their organization and will either voluntarily, or when asked, invite all their friends and family.

Another 15 per cent will selectively invite a few users whose interests align with the organization’s products, services or values. About 40 per cent of employees are only slightly engaged and will require a lot of effort on the organization’s part to motivate them to become involved online and invite others.

The remaining employees are just doing their jobs while on duty and want nothing to do with the organization after work. This ratio can be adopted with any online activity, which was described by Charlene Li with Groundswell.

Mistake 2: Only posting job openings

Just posting job openings is not the best way to attract or retain fans. Recruiting on social media is all about communication and building relationships. You do this by creating interesting discussions for users to participate in and sharing interesting and relevant information.

Why would a user care about a group that just posts jobs? Too many companies see social HR initiatives as just another job board. But job boards allow only one-way communication and often provide a one-dimensional view (usually the resumé) of the candidate. Social networks allow a two-way communication between employer and employee that gives each side a more complete picture of the other.

Organizations that simply post jobs while ignoring conversations are only using the learning engagement factor to engage users. If the organization doesn’t post the jobs anywhere else, then they’re also using the exclusivity engagement factor. The people who join the group or network will be looking to learn more about the organization and can do so by viewing job posts and other tidbits of information the organization may have posted.

Exclusivity may be a good strategy if the organization has a robust user following, but it may not make sense from a strategic perspective as the organization has limited its application pool to one source.

Organizations should avoid duplicating their career centres and job boards on their social media networks. While displaying career opportunities is a great way to advertise, it should not be used as the sole component of a social HR initiative. Users will become disengaged if they don’t find a job opening that interests them and those that do find a job will most likely abandon the  community because it is no longer of any interest to them.

Mistake 3: Lack of activity

One of the biggest social HR killers is lack of activity. If an organization isn’t constantly providing new and interesting information to its online community, users will give up and look elsewhere. To be successful in the social media realm, organizations need to use a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Have you or someone you know tried social recruitment and want to share your experience with everyone else? Love to add to this list of what not to do. 

Harpaul Sambhi is the CEO of Careerify, a company that develops social recruiting tools focused on employee referral programs with offices in Toronto and San Francisco. He is the author of Social HR, published by Carswell, which sheds insights in how social media is impacting human resources. He can be reached at, (416) 840-6216 or visit for more information.


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