Don’t cede social recruitment to competition

Firms relying solely on job boards run risk of missing out on ‘enviable, engaged’ workforce
By Catherine Claridge
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/25/2012

Despite the fact there has been a lot of buzz recently about the rise of social media for talent acquisition purposes, many companies still rely heavily on the tradition of job boards.

For many HR professionals, this remains the primary method for procuring talent, relying on resumés to obtain information about their knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAOs).

Such companies are at risk of losing talent to more innovative firms that have adopted social media in their talent acquisition objectives and are boasting an enviable and engaged workforce as a result.

While job boards will likely be around for some time, it is mainly the niche sites that have proven themselves most effective. Here, employers have access to the best talent from a given industry and the candidates have less competition for target roles.

But stand-alone job boards are one-dimensional communication platforms and the companies that manage them are finding value in creating a Twitter account to broadcast open jobs to an audience that may not think to go on their websites and browse jobs directly.

In the summer, American media outlet CNN published an article about the growing redundancy of the humble curriculum vitae in light of the rising popularity of sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter to promote one’s personal brand. The article stated that increased use of mobile devices and paper-free systems is another factor supporting this evolution.

Candidates are starting to resist the effort needed to create a cumbersome document outlining their background as their main job search tactic, and employers can easily research candidates online to find out everything they need to know about their work history.

In addition, the ability to craft an attractive and well-assembled paper document has little to no relevance to the person’s competency for the job in question (unless that job is a copywriter or editor). In fact, a professionally prepared curriculum vitae can often mislead recruiters and hiring managers into believing a candidate is more qualified than he actually is. More than 22 per cent of resumés verified for clients in 2007 contained fraudulent academic credentials, found risk consultancy firm Kroll.

As a group that is highly focused on process and legislation, HR can be the last one at the party when it comes to adopting new trends. Fortunately, the implementation of social media to meet recruitment objectives is easier than one might think, as long as there is top-down support, the change management surrounding this implementation is handled appropriately and the right people are in place to manage the initiative.

Depending on how an organization has socialized recruiting within the company will affect how social media is used for talent acquisition purposes. Some companies have outsourced this function completely with a recruitment process outsourcing vendor or frequent use of agency recruiters. Others have decided to retain ownership of the recruitment function as a vital role that touches potential candidates, who can also be viewed as customers. Assuming the latter is the case, there are a few simple ways HR can leverage social media for recruitment.


Having a robust company page on LinkedIn is just the beginning. Ensuring the company’s workforce is present and tangible on the site is going to better illustrate the employment brand and bring it to life for potential new hires. Purchasing a LinkedIn Recruiter seat for everyone on the team can be costly, so a less expensive alternative would be to set up the team with paid profiles so they can better connect with the plethora of passive talent available.

LinkedIn’s advantage over Facebook lies in its search functionality. Talent can be found relatively easily among the 175 million profiles but without the ability to send emails to people out of the network, it can be frustrating for a recruiter when he finds an ideal candidate.


As of June 2012, there were 955 million Facebook members. That’s 780 million more than LinkedIn. Crunching the numbers, this means talent is about six times more likely to be found there. Facebook’s timeline feature has changed how companies can use Facebook to brand themselves, and having a frequently monitored company page where products and services can be promoted is a good place to start.


Tweeting open jobs is one way to use this social media vehicle. Balancing the tweets with those focused on thought leadership neutralizes the spammy nature of repeated job postings and helps position a company as an industry leader. Twitter can also be used to communicate with jobseekers trying to navigate the job-application process.


Company videos, business-related video blogs (vlogs), live interviews with employees and footage of company job fairs or road shows are a few examples of media that can be shared on a company’s YouTube page. This gives prospective candidates a feel for the culture of the organization which, in theory, will help ensure the best, most relevant personalities are being attracted.

Talent communities

The idea behind the talent community is it is a “pre-need” endeavour and it is interactive. Using various channels such as the above sites, as well as the company website, potential candidates can be engaged early and regularly, so when a job does become available, a recruiter won’t have far to look to find them.

Depending on the size of the organization, monitoring these sites could require a full team or just be a part of one person’s job.

The most compelling feature of social media is it facilitates open and timely sharing of user-curated information. In the ongoing struggle to acquire the best talent available in a labour market that gets tighter every day, it will be the companies with a solid foothold in social media that change the game and help showcase their brands as ones with which top talent will want to align themselves.

Catherine Claridge is a member of the Toronto chapter of the Human Resources Professionals Association’s communications committee. She is a talent acquisition and human resources specialist and can be reached at or (416) 721-5059.

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