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outlining best practices of
social media for
Defining Social Media
Social media, as defined by Kirstin Hunt, is networking sites are just the web tools that en-
interactive media. It includes online social able this shift.
networks that allow personal connections and
open discussions. Specific platforms or chan- Most research on social media suggests the start
nels are not mentioned in most definitions for of its success was around the late 1990s; how-
social media as the tools for connecting and ever, it really began centuries ago with word-
conversing are constantly changing. The pur- of-mouth. John Steinbeck details the history of
pose is still the same, regardless of the tech- word-of-mouth and how it is simply storytelling.
nology. Li and Bernoff, authors of Groundswell, And now, with social media, the world is moving
say that social media is the platform that takes back to where it all started.
the power from companies and puts it in the
hands of individuals and communities. Social
It’s not a FAD. It’s here and it’s BIG
Social media (including blogs) captures 80% of social interaction online (Greiner, 2011). People
American Internet users’ time online, according to want to connect and not just surf anymore.
the Social Media Report. That’s double the amount Not only will candidates potentially want to
of time spent on online games (Nielson, 2011). connect on a social network, according to Ca-
Time spent on social networks is growing at three risa Miklusak, an emerging media consultant
times the overall Internet rate: the average user for CareerBuilder, they expect employers to be
spends 55 minutes per day on Facebook (Menden, there (Hunt, 2010). It’s true. Candidates are us-
2010). In our survey, every respondent reported ing social networks whether employers are or
that they participated in at least one social net- not. Every one of our survey respondents had
work (SMRG, 2011). Social media is not just for searched for a job on at least one social net-
the early adopters anymore, it’s for the masses. working site. Social media is “no longer just the
Facebook, in particular, is growing at a rate of shiny new object in the toolbox, social media
approximately 700,000 users per day (Menden, recruiting has become an integral part of hiring”
2010). (Zappa, 2011) .According to Carisa Miklusak, an
emerging media consultant for CareerBuilder,
Job candidates are no different than the average “Companies that don’t embrace social media
Internet user, according to The Globe and Mail. as a recruitment tool might risk losing quality
In a recent article, Greiner reported that today’s candidates to their competition” (Hunt, 2010).
job candidates are tech-savvy and want to find In certain industries where the unemployment
jobs the same way they find everything else—by rate is low, such as in skilled trades-dependant
sectors (Lajoie, 2009), this could be lethal.
Job Seekers vs. Candidates
Online classifieds have lost trac-
tion compared to social net-
working sites. According to
Nielson only 2.9% of Americans
spend time on online classifieds.
While job boards still fill a ma-
jor need, such sites tend to at-
tract mostly active jobseekers
(Sentementes, 2011). Compa-
nies need to appeal to the 53%
of the workforce that are open
to a new job but are not active-
ly looking, according to Jobvite
(Murguia, 2011). Often, these
candidates are also the top tier
candidates. Jennifer Ricci, vice
president of employee experi-
ence at Kobo Inc., was quoted common belief that social media is chosen because it costs less
addressing the idea of finding (SHRM, 2011).
quality candidates through so-
cial media. “More than likely, the Employers are Onboard
most desired candidates are not
searching job boards or reading The good news is that employers have already started to make this
job ads. They are networking shift. “More and more businesses are stepping into the social media
with their colleagues, reading arena to recruit viable candidates for positions at their companies—
industry news and contributing and having great success, according to social media gurus” (Hunt,
to online industry discussions. year, p. or para.). The SHRM poll reports that 56% of organizations
Social media is the vehicle by are using social networking sites to find candidates in one way or
which we can reach the top tier another. In 2009, that number was only 34% (SHRM, 2011). Even
candidates by influencing them more impressive is that almost two-thirds (64%) of businesses use
through their trusted networks” two or more social networks in the recruitment strategy. (McIlvaine,
(Greiner, 2011). When employ- 2011) Nearly 90% of employers have plans to use social media as
ers were surveyed by SHRM a recruiting tool in the near future (Adams, 2011). Employers are
their results agreed with Jobvite. committed and their budgets are following. Avature reports that job
The number one reason employ- marketing and advertising spend (including job boards) has been
ers are using social networks for reduced by 65% since 2009. In 2009, more than 70% of all hires
hiring is to recruit passive can- were made through the Internet; print is losing relevancy as it ac-
didates. This is contrary to the counts for less than 15% of all hires (Menden, 2010). Businesses
5 know that social media is where the candidates
are, they see it is better for passive hiring, they
see that it is more cost effective, and they see
it as a place to recruit higher quality candidates.
Not only did companies experience a 53% suc-
cess rate in recruiting through social networks,
they also reported finding higher quality candi-
dates (Atenta, 2011). In fact, they reported hir-
ing one in ten of the candidates found through
social media versus hiring only one in ten of can-
didates found through other channels (Zappe,
2011). This can be attributed to many factors.
Social media users are 12% more likely than
average to have graduate education (Nielson,
2011). However, education level is not the only
reason that candidates found through social
media are higher quality. The main reason is the
referral nature of social media. Most companies
consider referrals the most important indicator
in evaluating candidate quality (Atenta, 2011),
and social media is an enabler in this process.
In the CareerXRoads survey, 27.5% of external
hires reportedly came from social media refer-
rals. As a bonus, employees recruited through
social media, “last the longest, have the best
match with expectations, and churn the least”
according to Jobvite CEO Dan Finnigan (Adams,
2011). Social media referrals work because they
are trusted, according to Atenta that reported
78% of Internet users trust peer recommenda-
tion. They also work because messages have
the ability to spread easily through word of
mouth, and according to Pew Internet the aver-
age American has 634 ties in their overall net-
work, each one helping to spread the message.
Industry Comparisons ing. Recruiting via social media is about culture,
and culture building takes time. “Social Media is
Right now, recruiting 3.0 is not equal across the a process not an event” (Menden, 2010). Social
board. Not every industry is experiencing the media allows a company to show its personality.
same results with social media in the recruiting “You start to engage a candidate in a way you
process, nor are they adopting it at the same never could with a recruiter (or an ad) because of
rate. Health care and social assistance agen- (social media’s) scalability and the ability to have
cies are utilizing social media for recruiting the a two-way dialog,” (Hunt, 2010). Culture and per-
most (21%). Surprisingly, only 13% of techni- sonality can seduce someone already employed
cal industries are using social media to recruit elsewhere to take note, moving a passive job
and only 3% of construction, mining, oil and seeker to an active one. One third of all company
gas companies are using it for this purpose. Cu- digital followings, friends and fans are due to an
riously, publicly and privately owned for-profit interest in their corporate culture (Atenta, 2011).
organizations are more likely than government If someone likes your brand, even if he or she is
agencies to use social networking websites to employed elsewhere, he or she is more likely to
recruit potential job candidates. Lastly, larger pay attention to job notices from a company and
corporations are adopting 3.0 strategies faster more likely to spread the word to their personal
than smaller companies (SHRM, 2011). network. A great example of promoting a culture
and not a job is the Pink Glove Dance video pro-
Building a Culture FIRST duced by Providence St. Vincent Medical Centre in
Portland, Oregon (Providence St. Vincent, 2009)
Making the shift from traditional recruiting The video was produced to generate awareness
methods to recruiting through social media re- about breast cancer, and it did, but at the same
quires a shift in how recruiting is done. It’s no time it also showed that it could be a fun place
longer about placing an advertisement in the to work, that staff work together, and that the
classifieds and sifting through applicants. It no employees care about community and even the
longer happens in isolation from the rest of the facilities in which they work. Social media has be-
business and it is no longer timed specifically come a major component of that organization’s
to when the company has a specific job open- employee recruitment plan.
The top four social media chan-
nels are Facebook, Twitter, You-
Tube and LinkedIn, but the list
doesn’t stop there. Our survey
results surprisingly included a
much smaller social networking
site called Kijiji. In fact, 83% of
our respondents had used Kijiji
to look for a job, whereas Face-
book and LinkedIn where only
used by 33% of the respon-
dents, Twitter only 17% and
YouTube 0%. However, when
getting away from job search-
ing and looking at only SNS us-
age, Facebook was the winner
in our survey (Appendix A) with
66% of the respondents using is the leader in this. It allows employees to speak for themselves
Facebook more than 2 times (Dodd, 2011) The most popular SNS for job search and classifieds
per day, whereas Kijiji was only is currently LinkedIn. It generates about 73% of hires according to
1 per month. Nielson reports Jobvite’s data. Just 20% came from Facebook and 7% from Twit-
that Americans spend more time ter. (McIlvaine, 2011) However, the SNS that accounts for the most
on Facebook than on any other referrals that lead to hiring was not LinkedIn, but rather Facebook.
website. (State of the Media)
Twitter had surprising results in The most successful recruitment campaigns combine several social
our survey as well, in that 40% media channels and do not focus solely on one or the other.
of the respondents use it and
they use constantly throughout Trends Talk
The world of human resources recruiting is changing at rapid speed.
YouTube should not be written The industry is going to see more trends emerge as platforms for
off though due to our survey recruiting, such as mobile marketing and gamification. Both of
results. About 31 million Ameri- these are being adopted by larger corporations already; however,
cans watched video via social they have not reached mass market yet as recruiting tools. In the
networks in May 2011, so there near future, employers should anticipate the move to mobile and
is potential in video (Nielson, the interest in custom applications and branded games that height-
2011). When looking to develop en the culture of the company.
a Culture First approach, video Another trend that is surfacing in 2011 is digital job fairs. For our
paper, we hosted a Twitter Job Fair to test the idea. The employer, 14 Theories, was happy with the
ease of how it worked, and they did receive some word-of-mouth marketing from it. By the end of the
hour-long fair, they had 1 hopeful candidate interested who otherwise would not have connected with
the company. Unfortunately, it was not a successful hire, but the employer did report that he would
use a Twitter Job Fair again in the future. Digital job fairs may not work for every industry though. This
test was with a web development company with a highly digitally engaged target market. Industries
where the candidates are not so digitally engaged may be trickier and slower to adopt.
On a much softer scale, we are seeing labels and hashtags (for Twitter) being used specifically for
the recruiting process that allow candidates to find openings, leads and even cultural references for
Social media has been denounced for being
inexpensive, and it is. But social media is not
catching on just because it is cheap. It is now
integrating human resource recruiting into the
core of the business and not just as a stand-
alone unit. It is integrated and ongoing. Wheth-
er a company starts with a blog, creates a video
and / or hosts a digital job fair, social media 3.0
is already happening.
Social media can be successfully used for em-
ployee recruiting; however, the best successes
come from using social media tools in non-tradi-
tional ways compared to traditional classifieds.
As we see classified sales drop, candidates are
seeking the companies they want to work for
and they are eager to find out the culture of
the company. Social media allows employers to
focus on showcasing their culture, which will
attract the right candidate for the right reason,
not simply because there was a job opening.
Social media is about finding candidates who
are not necessarily looking for a position. This
is something that could be extremely valuable
in industries where the unemployment rate is
considerably high, such as in the skilled trades-
dependant sectors. Following on the histori-
cal roots of word-of-mouth marketing, social
networking sites aid referrals, leading to more
qualified candidates and better hires. It is im-
perative that employers now empower their
employees to be part of the recruiting process.
Encourage them to talk about openings on their
Facebook statuses, tweet about it, take and
post videos of the lunchroom, if appropriate.
Recruiting 3.0 is not just the human resources department
anymore, it’s everyone’s business.
Adams, Susan 2011, 'More Employers Using Social Media to Hunt for Talent', Forbes, 13 July.
Atenta 2011, Social Recruiting & Employer Branding – 10 Reasons to Engage, Wollmilchsau, viewed
August 2011 <http://www.wollmilchsau.de/social-recruiting-employer-branding-10-reasons-to-
Crispin, Gerry & Mehler, Mark 2011, 10th Annual CareerXroads Source of Hire Report: By the Numbers, Ca-
reerXroads, viewed August 2011 <http://www.careerxroads.com/news/SourcesOfHire11.pdf>.
Dodd, Paul 2011, Best way to use YouTube for recruiting? Let your employees speak for themselves, Head2Head
Canada, viewed August 2011 <http://www.recruitsmart.ca/ViewBlog/me0e0745f2b98b2dd1a77be1ed68dcee0/
Greiner, Lynn 2011, 'How to use social media as a recruiting tool', Special to Globe and Mail, 6 June.
Hampton, K, Sessions Goulet, L, Rainie, L & Purcell K 2011, Social networking sites and our lives, Pew Internet.
Hunt, Kristin Gunderson 2010, 'Finders keepers: social media strategies help find top talent', Journal of Property
Management, vol. 75, issue 6, pp36-40.
Lajoie, Don 2009, 'Skilled trades shortage feared', The Windsor Star, 20 October 2009.
Li, Charlene & Bernoff, Josh 2008, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, Har-
vard Business School Press.
McIlvaine, Andrew R. 2011, 'Do Friends Let Friends Recruit via Facebook?', LRP Publications, 25 July, viewed
August 2011 <http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/story.jsp?storyId=533340167>.
Menden, Stefan 2010, 'Social Media Recruiting and Employer Branding: Survey results', presented at 13th World
Business Dialogue, Cologne, March 18, 2010. <http://www.slideshare.net/squeakernet/social-media-recruiting-
Murguia, Anne 2011, More Social Profiles Now Submitted with Job Applications, 25 July, Jobvite News, viewed
August 2011, <http://blog.jobvite.com/2011/07/more-social-profiles-now-submitted-with-job-applications/>.
Nielson 2011, State of the Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011, NM Incite, viewed August 2011 <http://
Providence St. Vincent 2009, Pink Glove Dance, viewed August 2011 <http://youtu.be/OEdVfyt-mLw>.
Sentementes, Gus G. 2011, 'More companies mining LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for social recruiting effort',
The Baltimore Sun, 14 August.
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 2011, SHRM Poll: Social Networking Websites for Identify-
ing and Staffing Potential Job Candidates, 20 June.
Zappe, John 2011, New Survey Finds That 89% Are Using Social Media in Recruiting, 12 July, viewed August
Zappe, John 2011, More Employers Than Ever Recruit on Social Networks, viewed August 2011 <http://www.ere.
Social Media Best
Social media is about finding candidates
Social media leads to higher quality
candidates and hirers.
Recruiting 3.0 is no longer the respon-
sibility of the HR department, it’s time
to break down the silos.
November 20, 2011
Lindsey Fair, Faculty Advisor
Matt Landers, Research Lead
Chris Green, Researcher (Advertising)
Olga Dolia, Researcher (Marketing)
Casie Jones, Researcher (HR)