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Social Recruiting & Your Job Search

By Susan P. Joyce

If you are in a job search or just thinking about finding a new job, revise your assumptions on what works these days for job search. While you were happily employed the past few years, recruiting methods have changed, impacted by emerging technology and the economy.

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We now have this method called "social recruiting." What is it? Social recruiting is what companies and recruiters do when they use the "social networking sites," like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and/or Google Plus to find candidates for their job opportunities

The Rise of Social Recruiting

In early 2011, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM.org) released a study comparing employer recruiting activities in 2008 vs. 2011. The 2011 survey showed that 56% of employers were using social networks for recruiting and and an additional 20% were planning to use them. So, social networks were a recruiting source for over 75% of employers in 2011, an increase of over 20% since 2008.

Data in 2012 and 2013 continued to show the growth of social recruiting as a major source of external hires, with a decline in employer use of job boards apparently happening at the same time.

In 2014, as in 2011 (and earlier), LinkedIn stays in the lead for social recruiting. It is known as the "professional social network." And, it is clearly the social network that recruiters have preferred, although, as the chart below from JobVite.com indicates, Facebook is not far behind.

2014 JobVite Job Seeker Nation

The Dangers of Social Recruiting

Social recruiting is not an un-mixed blessing. It provides employers with a more robust representation of the job seeker than any resume or application provides.

However, too much information may be available - from party photos which should not be viewed by a potential employer to information about chronic illnesses, politics, religion, financial, and family situations, etc. This personal information is not normally considered in an employer's hiring decision. With social media, the boundaries between personal and professional networking can become dangerously blurred.

Job seekers (and employees!) must carefully consider what they post in a public network. Before you post something, ask yourself - what could be the consequences if my current or future boss saw this? Is this post safe for public consumption?

Google and the other search engines devour social postings, so everything Tweeted or posted on Facebook, LinkedIn, your personal blog, or a comment on someone else's blog may be shown to a potential employer by a search engine today or next year.

Leveraging Social Recruiting for Your Job Search

Carefully using social media when you're actively job hunting - and when you are employed - can boost your job search, connecting you with opportunities you didn't know existed and would never have discovered any other way.

  • Separate your personal and work lives.

If you must share your views on religion, politics, and other personal and controversial topics, establish and use social network identities that are not easily traced to you, or use a different version of your name. When using LinkedIn, which is clearly a professional network, stick to topics related to - and enhancing - your professional image. And be sure to check - and periodically re-check - your privacy settings on all the social networks to keep those roles separate.

  • Connect with people you know.

All of the social networks offer search capabilities to help you connect with people you know (family, friends, former classmates, former co-workers, customers, clients, professors, neighbors, etc.). Your network! They may help you do your current job better and also help you connect with that next job when the time is right.

  • Connect with the important people in your field.

For example, if banking is your field, look for new connections you can make in banking to expand your network. You can follow/friend/connect with banking industry sites, banking news sites, banking industry career and job search experts, as well as other thought leaders. These connections will enable you to stay up-to-date in your field as well as providing the connections and advice that will help expedite your job hunt.

  • Connect with your target employers.

Facebook and LinkedIn have pages specifically for companies, filled with excellent information for potential customers and potential employees. LinkedIn shows both current and former company employees who are in your LinkedIn network as well as, often, job postings. Many employers have established company pages on Facebook, promoting the company and also, often, making job postings public. Many, many employers have an HR or recruiting account on Twitter used to send out job postings. Find and follow them.

  • Establish your "brand."

Show potential employers your depth of knowledge, your ability to communicate effectively, your good spelling and grammar, your ability to find and share excellent information, and, if possible, your writing skills. For more on "personal branding," read Job-Hunt's Personal Branding Expert Meg Guiseppi's excellent Personal Branding articles.

  • Stay active in social networks.

Focus on establishing and maintaining one social network profile when you are getting started with social media. Then, add additional networks as your time and attention allow. When you "go silent" after establishing a profile, few recruiters will spend the time trying to contact you. Perhaps your Tweet was excellent and exactly on-topic for the job they have open. However, if you posted it early-2014 with nothing else posted since, your account is obviously abandoned. Recruiters will move on to the obviously active accounts where someone is paying attention. If you have time for only one social network, LinkedIn is probably the one which will be most effective for professional social networking.

Bottom Line

Social recruiting is a fact of life. It is not going away, and job seekers must learn how to manage it. People have been fired for using social networks inappropriately, and they lose job opportunities for the same reason. Check out my article about online reputation management for more information.

More Information about Social Media for Job Search


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.