The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

Better Recruiting Through Social Networks?

Jobvite released their new survey on the utilization of social networks for recruiting.  Most of this is not a surprise as recruiting seems to be the early adopter for some new HR technologies well ahead of everyone else.  Remember recruiting systems was a major market before any other point solutions (outside of benefits and payroll).  And they were hosting those solutions well before it became acceptable.  One could also say that the success of LinkedIn is fueled in large party by the activity of recruiters.  That said however, Jobvite’s study notes some areas for improvement and next steps.

Jobvite’s survey showed that the majority (78%) of companies use social networking and social media to find and attract candidates. The most common method of social hiring is leveraging employee networks through referrals – 75% of companies surveyed do so. Also popular among many recruiters (64%) are online social networks, predominantly LinkedIn and Facebook. When asked which techniques they plan to use more next year, 68% of recruiters said they will increase their use of referrals and employees’ networks. Overall, responses show that recruiters are already engaging in social recruitment using a range of methods, both online and offline. 1

The question is how does a recruiter actually do this?  I have 2 major questions regarding the execution of using the employee social network for recruitment purposes:

  1. Implicit endorsement that it’s ok to use external social network sites for work purposes? And how do recruiters utilize the social networks of employees through automated technology if they are not part of the employee’s personal network?
  2. Of all the governance issues around recruiting and external social networks (bad behavior found on someone’s myspace page for example) how does one draw the lines between the external network and the employer use of that network?

And perhaps both of these are saying the same thing – most employers (unless you’re Serena Software) don’t want you to spend time browsing your Facebook accounts and sending notes to friends during work hours.  But if you are allowing employees to cultivate potential candidates, then are you not telling them to help the employer by managing their social connections (and therefore social life) at work?  I admit that most employees self-govern pretty well, but we all know that (80/20 rule) some are completely incapable of that.

The second question is really around governance.  We are already having debates if it’s appropriate to Google candidates and translate what they do in their personal lives can be imposed on the employment decision.  And while we realize that there is a definitive slash between the words “WORK / LIFE” the reality of today’s world is that we have technology that blurs that line.

I don’t know what the answers are.  I do believe that Jobvite has the correct next step, but I don’t think it’s as simple to implement as it is stated.  Certainly recruiters have always found a way to push the envelope, often outside of the governance of HR process and policies.  So we’ll see what happens, and even if employees want their corporate recruiter as part of their social network at all.


  1. from Jobvite press release on May 13, 2008 [back]

3 comments

  1. I have to agree tapping into employee social networks as a strategy while works might not be the best moral approach. Using social networks & engaging with the community around your organisation/industry is a much better use of the tools, in the long run it will provide you better candidates.

    Lot’s more to come in this area!

  2. Commendable as it may be, the morality debate will end when ad networks have more widespread ability to target social networks via tagging and parsing of content to profile members. Already in progress, this will be a game-changer. Like the Google model, network founders will share in the revenues, so the free enterprise system will provide sufficient motivation for it to take root.

    Do you know Ning? It’s what it was built for. A social network generator, lets users create social networks on its platform, which it hosts in exchange for the creators’ allowing ad serving on their pages. In much the same way a human cell splits, splits again and eventually develops into a multi-billion-celled human, so grows Ning as networks spawn offshoot networks and so on.

    Now, look down on this entire network of networks and imagine you have each one nicely categorized so that an advertiser looking for Polish skateboard enthusiasts can know instantly if you can reach them, about how many there are and what it will cost. How easy it will be for advertisers/recruiters to reach highly targeted uniques that, in many cases, completely fly under the radar of other online ad media.

    If you can imagine that, now you can see the real value of advertising through social networks. If you can actually SEE it, then you are Marc Andreessen.

  3. You have supplied some pretty compelling and basic Seo suggestions which should certainly be put to use by everybody attempting to be able to position highly in Search engines nevertheless I feel it’s beneficial not to lay too much stress on Search engine optimization more than ever when it comes to social traffic. I just think 1 of the preferred products anyone could implement, not to mention 1 of the hugest time savers is undoubtedly to automate social traffic by means of WebDOM. When used as it should, you actually can certainly enjoy the rewards of the traffic without having to spend outrageous portions of time doing work on your Search engine optimization in particular in the instance that you are struggling to battle in a remarkably cut-throat competitive topic.

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