Spotlight on: recruiting through social networks

Research from Best Companies shows that 70% of consumers trust friends, family or other people when searching for information and ideas on products to buy.

Much of this dialogue takes place online, so it is clear that the social networking phenomenon is more than a passing fad. It is also something that HR cannot afford to ignore if it wants to keep track of the best talent.

“The Web 2.0 revolution has given employees a powerful voice and put people firmly at the heart of the workplace,” says Best Companies chief executive Jonathan Austin. “Online communities are usually receptive to honest discussion, and companies willing and transparent enough to engage with them in this way can build bridges and prevent any negative online publicity having a lasting impact.”

Online talent

What this means for HR is that sourcing talent through the internet is going to become increasingly important. The web, and in particular the corporate career website, has emerged as a core channel for attracting and acquiring candidates, and is a prime source of new hires. At the same time, hype has been growing around social networking websites such as MySpace, Jobster, H3, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Alice Snell, vice-president at talent management software provider Taleo, argues that social networks provide a significant tool for tapping into passive candidates, without the ethical issues surrounding headhunting and the costs associated with recruitment agencies.

She says: “When one thinks of social networking in relation to the six degrees of separation – a theory which asserts that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than four intermediaries – it can be a powerful recruitment tool.”

Circle of trust

The true power of a social network in terms of recruitment comes from the trust that is built into an employer recommendation from one acquaintance to another.

Recruitment firms are also beginning to use social networking sites as a way of finding new candidates – making it well worth jobseekers’ while to have a presence online.

Liam Fisher, client services director at recruitment specialists, Goddard Gadd, says: “We’ve already made a few direct placements and brought on new clients as a result of launching a networking area on MySpace earlier this year, where people can ask for career advice.”

Goddard Gadd is also in the process of launching a site for Facebook in October, so it can network with professionals at executive and management level who, Fisher believes, are looking for more straightforward recruitment services.

Five tips on   recruiting through social networks 



    1. Recruiters targeting passive jobseekers online need to adapt the tone and language they use.


    1. Employers who get this dialogue right may find that a healthy discussion about their merits as an employer flows as a result.


    1. Candidates need to be aware that their postings on social networking sites are in the public domain, and can be used as part of a selection process.


    1. Social networking sites can have a role to play within the overall recruitment process, but are unlikely to be the sole or even the main channel used by either party.


  1. Provided HR has a clear view of the candidates it wants to attract and what media these individuals consume, then social networking sites can be an effective recruitment technique.


Source: Graham Wylie, head of marketing, Reed Managed Services, part of HR consultancy Reed Consulting

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