Social Recruiting: Plunge into the largest talent pool

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Canadian businesses are investing more time and money in recruiting high quality talent – talent that’s increasingly willing to shop around in pursuit of better opportunities. But savvy organizations are finding suitable employees by diving into the largest talent pool there is – social media.

These efforts, known as social recruiting, enable businesses to identify qualified candidates, reach out to them, establish a dialogue, and determine if prospects are a good fit before the formal interview process even begins. And they can do this from a laptop, cell phone or other mobile device.

However, this talent pool is crowded with employers who are barely treading water. Are your social recruiting efforts as successful as they could be?

Where's the employer diving board?

The 2010 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey found almost 75% of employers are already engaged in social recruiting and nearly 10% more intended to start that year. If you’re not already involved in social recruiting, your competition probably is.

The most popular websites for social recruiting are LinkedIn, Facebook, and – more recently – Twitter. The survey showed 78% of employers already engaged in social recruiting used LinkedIn while 55% used Facebook and 45% used Twitter.

Tiffany Black, senior producer at, advises employers to assess the suitability of each social media website for meeting their unique needs:

Use LinkedIn…

  • To search for candidates to fill available positions by either posting a job advertisement or simply stating that you’re looking for someone
  • To network with people you know, including coworkers, clients, past employers, friends and others
  • To join appropriate groups – for example, if you’re always looking for financial advisors, join a group for financial advisors
  • To assess candidates before beginning the formal interview process. Check their profiles

Use Facebook…

•             As above, and to access a pool of potential candidates that far exceeds any other network.

•             To search the Facebook directory for relevant keywords, post a job in the Facebook marketplace, create a Facebook page to promote your business, or post a Facebook ad.

Use Twitter…

  • To build a network, establishing relationships with Twitter users based on factors you choose. They may live in the same region, work in the same industry, or discuss subjects relevant to positions you may need to fill
  • To tweet available positions to your network. These tweets can easily be re-tweeted by members of your network and can expand faster and farther than traditional recruitment methods
  • Maurice Fernandes, a Strategic Recruitment Initiatives consultant at Ceridian, says social media websites offer many common benefits

"The main advantage of social recruiting as opposed to more traditional recruitment methods is access to potential and rather large talent pools," he said. "A job board can claim ‘one million members’, but LinkedIn has more than three million members in Canada. Facebook has 16.8 million with 49.89% penetration of the population. As recruiters looking for talent, we can’t ignore those numbers. We are given a platform to deliver our message that is mostly free of charge."

And it’s effective.

The same Jobvite survey demonstrated a majority of employers were successful in their efforts and recruited high quality employees using social media. A majority of those hires were found using the dominant social media websites:

  • 89% were recruited using LinkedIn
  • 26% were recruited using Facebook
  • 14% were recruited using Twitter

Employers were also more satisfied with the quality of employees hired through social recruiting.

OK, say I don’t know how to swim…

One of the most common pieces of advice social recruiting experts offer is to focus on developing a strategy. You should identify the needs you want social media to meet – and, unless those needs are constantly filling low-paying, high-turnover positions – you can’t just approach social media as you would any other recruitment tool.

The Jobvite survey showed more employers use social media websites to promote their brand than advertise jobs. Even following up on referrals and researching candidates were more popular uses of the websites than advertising jobs.

Sharlyn Lauby, president of Internal Talent Management, explains there are six steps necessary for effective social recruiting. Any good strategy should spell out how your business will meet the following steps:

  1. Create an online presence that reflects who you are
  2. Make the most of your time
  3. Individualize your approach
  4. Be authentic
  5. Share interesting stuff
  6. Focus on substance

"Recruiters always want to see the real candidate," she explained in a recent article. "And in order to do that, they have to be real as well."

Dr. John Sullivan detailed many of the ways you can be most effective. He stressed the importance of building relationships as the best way to identify, evaluate and even groom candidates, even if they’re not currently looking for a job.

Employees can contribute to these efforts as well. A social media presence that engages employees and others in related fields can be a great way to attract candidates who would never be found with just a job posting.

Sullivan also said employers should accept social media profiles in lieu of formal résumés. Candidates who aren’t actively looking for jobs may be reluctant to tailor and submit formal résumés, especially for general applications that don’t reference specific positions. Enabling them to express a casual interest by submitting their social media profiles instead can expand a network.

I'm treading water, now what?

Fernandes says the most important lesson you can learn is you shouldn’t use social media websites to just throw information about available positions around like floaties in a pool.

"Social media fosters two-way communication with candidates and prospective employees," he said, stressing the importance of building relationships and networks. "Through social media, recruiting can paint a complete picture of a company’s corporate culture through video and employee testimonials. We get to humanize the companies and departments for which we recruit."

And that is the common thread in all the advice by social recruiting experts: approach social recruiting more as a professional networking lunch than a high school career fair. When you take the plunge into the world’s largest talent pool and continuously improve your technique, you can help keep your head above water and your business afloat.

Ceridian offers a comprehensive suite of recruitment solutions designed to find and identify top-notch candidates who will make valuable contributions to your business.

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