Recruiters are increasingly embracing social media as a key component of their talent acquisition process. A 2011 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) poll estimates that 56% of recruiters use social media as a recruiting tool; whereas, a leading provider of social recruiting tools reports in their 2012 survey that 92% of recruiters use social media in their talent acquisition arsenal.

facebook-likeIn considering the use of social media in the talent acquisition process, recruiters should take note of the pros and potential cons.

Pros include:

  • Using social media to reach “passive” candidates who have a social media presence, but are not likely to seek out job opportunities. These “passive” candidates are generally working in the profession today and are seen as having the most current skills. In fact, in the 2011 SHRM poll, 84% of recruiters said that the main reason they used social networking was to access this passive pool.
  • As the job market improves, the search for talent will become more competitive. Whether recruiting budgets will expand to compensate for this higher level of recruiting difficulty is problematic. Therefore, social media becomes a very cost-effective way to find skilled staff.
  • Social media is a wonderful platform to establish a company’s employment “brand” image.
  • Social media offers companies the opportunity to reach a wide, diverse pool of talent.

Recruiters should develop policies and processes to deal with these potential cons:

  • Legal considerations in using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles/accounts to screen potential candidates, given that the profiles may reveal “protected characteristics.” Fortunately HR is becoming more aware of the legal pitfalls and establishing tighter controls to avoid discrimination or negligent hiring claims and to remain abreast of the changing regulatory climate.
  • Hiring manager involvement in the talent sourcing process through their use of social media.  While a practice in certain companies to drive talent acquisition out of HR and into the hands of department management, there is risk involved. Hiring managers may not be trained to use profile information appropriately and do not recognize the limitations of this self-reported data.

Job seekers, particularly those in a career transition program, also need to be aware of their pros and cons in using social media to reach potential employers, including the following pros:

  • Recruiters are increasingly constructing sophisticated search strings to locate qualified candidates through social media. Job seekers should review and amend their profiles to include important skill keywords that will lead recruiters to their door.
  • A profile that is well-written, grammatically correct and very professional will leave a positive impression on recruiters and on potential networking contacts who can make referrals to recruiters or hiring managers.

There are a couple of job seeker cons to consider:

  • Job seekers need to make sure the image they present supports their career objective. Survey data shows that a significant number of recruiters and hiring managers have made decisions to exclude a candidate from consideration based on negative characterizations contained in social media profiles, including LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • In addition to problems with their profile, a poorly developed network and lack of recommendations may result in elimination from consideration.

Social media is an excellent tool–both for recruiting and being recruited. It just needs to be used responsibly.

Tell us – how has it helped you effectively recruit? Or, how has social media helped you find your next job?

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