Is recruiting via social networks as effective as traditional methods?

That question is akin to asking if you’d rather have a hammer or a screwdriver in your toolbox. Both are valuable tools and one can’t replace the other. So it is with social media versus traditional methods of recruitment—they will continue to complement, rather than replace– each other.

As the economy revives, companies are staring to hire more workers and would like to do so in the most cost-effective and efficient way. Innovative social media recruiting appears to be free (but you must factor in the cost of the time you put in to establish an online presence, contribute to social media sites, monitor, network, and update that presence.) Nonetheless, according to a recent survey of companies, 83% now using or planning to use social media for recruiting. LinkedIn with its “living resumes” continues to lead in usage (and even more so in hires successfully made), but there has been a growth in adoption of multiple networks: Facebook use has grown 15% since last year’s survey and Twitter use has grown 32%. Now 55% use Facebook and 45% use Twitter. 46% of respondents plan to spend more on social recruiting as the economy recovers.

A survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, shows that about 65% of business professionals are connecting with each other and with employers on such social networking sites, which jibes with the finding that the most successful recruitment tool has not changed— referrals. More good hires are made by referral than any other process—whether those referrals are in person or online.

While social media recruiting will supply the largest pool of applicants, relying solely on such networks poses some hazards in and of itself. Mirna Bard, an instructor of social media at the University of California at Irvine, points out that the possibility of violating discrimination and privacy laws and the potential for unreliable information all should be considered when using social media as a recruiting tool.

For example, gathering candidates from Facebook may gain you a long list of candidates, but they may be all of a younger demographic (older workers have been shown to use social media much less that the younger generations) opening your company to accusations of ageism (and missing some of the more experienced candidates). Or peeking into someone’s personal life may violate privacy issues (if you see a photo of a candidate a little worse for alcohol at their bachelor party, does that disqualify him for a job?) Or because a candidate’s friends recommend her effusively on LinkedIn—does that insure she’d actually make a good employee or have her contacts exaggerated her talents or skills?

Here the vetting and screening done by a staffing firm can be invaluable. Such companies, like Advance Temporary Services make use of social media to garner prospects and then use more traditional methods to weed out those not suitable, before presenting a carefully pre-qualified short list to  prospective employers.

Bard believes that HR departments will likely skip traditional career fairs in favor of using virtual Web-based solutions and that job boards may soon no longer be the primary source for higher-quality candidates, but she also is clear in her opinion that we are clearly a long way from seeing social networking replace traditional methods of hiring.

Social media allows both candidates and companies a way to digitize referrals, conduct research, market themselves,  and create a larger candidate pool, but social media should be just part of a recruiting plan. The use of executive recruiters and staffing firms, a strong company website presence, and a vigorous employee referral program should be included in a successful recruiting strategy. Let Advance Temporary Services map out just such a strategy for your company.




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