Definition

social media recruiting (social media recruitment)

Contributor(s): Patrick Thibodeau and Emma Snider
This definition is part of our Essential Guide: A guide to talent management tools and trends

Social media recruiting is an HR strategy to better attract active and passive job candidates. Firms create a presence on social media sites to bolster their brand and interest people in applying for jobs.

Active candidates are looking for work. Passive candidates aren't responding to job ads, but that doesn't mean that they are off the job market. Both types of candidates are active in abundance on social media. In turn, social media sites provide tools for recruiting, and third-party software can expand those capabilities.

Why use social media for recruitment?

Social media recruiting isn't replacing job boards or advertising on a corporate website; rather, it is supplementing all these activities.

LinkedIn remains the center of the social media universe for recruiters. Recruitment platform vendor SocialTalent's most recent Global Recruiting Survey found that 98% of all recruiters use LinkedIn.


A physician recruiter discusses best practices
for social media recruiting

However, that statistic doesn't mean all job seekers use LinkedIn; all it means is that recruiters value LinkedIn as a resource. Job seekers -- in particular, younger people -- use a variety of social media platforms, so reaching those candidates is important in modern HR.

Along with members of large social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, there are talented people who are more engaged on sites that fill both social media and professional needs. This includes Dribbble, a community for designers, and the software development platform GitHub.

How social media recruiting works

The recruiting tools needed to navigate this vast social media space range from rudimentary to advanced. There are products that may do little more than help users discover a candidate's contact information, email and phone number. On the other hand, there are also platforms that claim to use AI technologies to help with social media recruiting.

There are also vendors who specialize in locating potential passive candidates. Their software takes the relevant candidate data collected from multiple sources to create a single profile view that can be integrated into a recruiter's applicant tracking system.

Algorithmic-based technologies can use job descriptions to find people on social media who may meet the requirements and then rank them. It's then up to the employer to reach out to these passive candidates and see if they want to talk more about potential jobs.

Contacting passive candidates via social media recruiting may require some finessing. One capability that vendors offer is automated checks of incumbent employees to see if anyone on staff has a connection to a candidate -- for example, a current employee who worked at the same firm at some point as a candidate. This approach may be coupled with an employee referral incentive program.

LinkedIn is very much in the mix of finding passive candidates. Its Talent Insights analytics tools, for instance, can help companies identify potential talent poaching targets. The tool can also estimate attrition rates and the demand for employees with certain skill sets by measuring the volume of the platform's InMails.

Meanwhile, Marriott International uses Facebook as part of its social media recruiting strategy. Facebook has a business strategy to help companies create recruiting sites. In Marriott's case, it created a specific careers chatbot that works with Facebook Messenger.

This virtual assistant for job seekers has the capability to converse and guide someone to a job they may be interested in. For instance, a job seeker may ask the chatbot: "Do you have event manager job openings in Chicago?" The chatbot will provide a response and direct the person to any applicable ads.

This was last updated in August 2018

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