Does Social Networking = LinkedIn for Most Recruiters?

LinkedIn rules the roost

We ran a webinar today with Elaine Orler and Jason Corsello of Knowledge Infusion about what changes we should expect from recruiting technology in the next year.

I learned a lot on the call, but one of the polls that we took really made me stop and think. Here it is:

What social networking application are you most likely to use in your recruiting efforts?
# of Respondents % of Respondents
LinkedIn 298 66.82%
Facebook 35 7.85%
MySpace 7 1.57%
YouTube 0 0.00%
Twitter 4 0.90%
Other 16 3.59%
None of the above 86 19.28%
Total Respondents 446 100.00%

That LinkedIn was the most popular did not surprise me — it’s not exactly a secret that it has become one of the critical tools of our profession. I was surprised that LinkedIn was such an overwhelming favorite – nobody else was even remotely close.

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The way we asked the question had people answering which of these services they are most likely to use the most. But I wonder — if we had phrased the question to ask if recruiters are using these sites at all for professional services, would the answers have been any different?

Asked a different way, aside from a very small portion of the recruiting community, are we really using social media effectively?

ERE Media, Inc. CEO David Manaster continues to learn about recruiting every day. His first job in the profession was way back in 1997, and he founded ERE Media the following year. Today, David spends his time thinking up new ways that ERE can serve the recruiting community. You can follow David on Twitter or email him at david(at)


22 Comments on “Does Social Networking = LinkedIn for Most Recruiters?

  1. Dave,

    I was a participant on this webinar. I could be incorrect, but I understood the question to be which do we use and not which do we use most often. I believe if the participants were able to select more than one answer, the outcome would have been different.

    I was one of the respondents that answered LinkedIn, however we use LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace equally here at Progress.


    Todd Tracy
    Director of Global Talent Acquisition

  2. Dave,

    From my vantage point as a recruiting professional and a recruiting industry training consultant, I am not at all surprised by the poll’s results. Linked In continues to be the most productive tool of its type. Most recruiters with whom I interface say that “the others” have a very annoying ‘Chaff factor”.

    Candidates that are already overworked by a multitude of recruiters, a shortfall of people on many of these sites and the increasing number of people from failing industries not sought by their current clients all contribute to the “Chaff” versus “Wheat” results. Linked In seems to be populated more by active professionals more than job seekers or socializing adults.

    At the same time the vast majority of recruiters tell me that direct sourcing and name gathering (on the telephone and by IM) are producing a much higher number of candidates in demand by their clients. I feel it prudent to add the fact that this feedback and my own experiences indicate that the diminishing out put of these sources is not driven by industry niche.

    As the candidate pool morphs generationally and the available of candidate numbers diminish, we will all need to dust off that telephone for name gathering while still exploiting the electronmic tooling for leads and intelligence leading to sources. Reliance on one or the other simply isn’t a wise choice anymore.

  3. Don’t forget othat Linked-In in many companies (particularly larger companies) is one of the only sites listed in this poll that are even allowed to be accessed at work, much less not outright blocked by web standards.

    Social hubs like facebook/myspace/twitter still have communities very outside the professional realm that LinkedIn has, so they will never quite be viable in many industries until they think about how to branch out. It’s one thing for a tech company to see some savvy talent on sites like this, it’s another for other sectors to recruit anyone from them.

  4. My take on it is that the majority of recruiters have absolutely no clue how to capitalize and use the simplest of technology and no idea what social media is. I feel that those who are embracing social media/web2.0 recruiting are the leaders in the industy. I also feel that many others will never catch on.

    Linked in is the EASIEST point of entry for a non-tech related recruiter. It is easy to use Linkedin and you can connect with a bunch of people quickly.

    There is a huge need for recruiter training. Someone has tons of opportunity right now if they play in that space.

    Darrin Grella

  5. I tend to agree with Mark Freeman more than Darrin Grella about industry specific and would also add experience level. I mainly recruit in the medical device and pharma space and most often manager to executive level. While I have found Linked-In a good source for some of my candidates, many of the others listed are just not applicable to my industry/experience level. This may change in 5 years or so when the “milennial” gets promoted to “Sr. Analyst” or “Manager” but will they still be on a “my space” or “facebook” at that time? I doubt it.

    I will agree with Darrin on one thing though – that most recruiters don’t know how to capitalize on (sometimes) the simpliest technologies. I’m not sure if it’s a functional chasm or an industry one.

  6. I agree that most recruiters don’t know how to capitalize on many of these technologies. I have been providing training/consulting/education/suggestions to recruiters on this exact topic, and had good success. If anyone is interested in learning about what I do, email me at

    Russ, you are correct, not every industry is populating every social networking site. But I also have to disagree with you on the comment about millennials still being on Facebook and MySpace when they get promoted. It is where their connections are, and it is hard to rebuild a network that big.

  7. I use a rough but relatively comfortable (for me) “adultness” index for measuring networking sites. Facebook, MySpace and the like are more for “play”. LinkedIN (and some of the others…Namyz, ZoomInfo and the like) have a more “adult” purpose…even if to some it is a contest to see who can gather the most contacts…

    Somewhere in the middle are the “Gather”-type sites, which are more in the realm of the “illuminati” and artsy types…

    So…it is no wonder that LinkedIN has the streed cred among both recruiters…and the recruited. And the IT folks will bless it probably because they want the the ‘cruiters to call them to get them the heck into new gigs…

    Bill Wright
    Sr. Recruiter
    Open Networker or

  8. Even though some of us may have lower requisition counts due to the economy, there is more opportunity to review sourcing sites so that when the market does turn around, we have the candidates ready to present.

    All respondants are on target especially Doug. One of he practices I use with LinkedIn not only combines sending out an InMail Request or connecting through someone, but also if they are currently working, picking up the phone and giving them a call. I just finished a sourcing search for a couple of high level positions. Even though I received quite a few return emails, I had very positive response when I followed up with a phone call several days later.

    Call me old fashioned….technology is great and has allowed everyone the opportunity to identify candidates, but in the end, the candidate experience we as recruiters and our hiring manages take our candidates through (i.e.the personal touch) lands the candidates.

    Michael Goldberg
    Manager, Recruiting

  9. Another point – most recruiters that use these technologies will go where it is easiest to find candidates. LinkedIn makes it very simple to get a good understanding of the persons background. They also make it relatively easy to get in touch with the person — you know the company they work at, can contact direct through inmail or through a trusted source. I think most recruiters don’t want to spend the time mining through Facebook, Twitter, etc… because they see it as too difficult or time consuming. Not saying this is right but this is an observation I have.

  10. In my opinion, LinkedIn is a truly disruptive technology toward the recruiting industry; a sharp, two-edged sword that will slowly but surely extract great market share from recruiters, both contingent and retained.

    Sort of like the Native Americans finding it lucrative to do business with the settlers at first…

    I’m not saying that it’s bad, I just believe that it *is*. A reliable, current and accessible global network of information on employed executives is a gold mine and puts older business models, in many cases…out of business.


  11. I have a question regarding a comment posted here by ‘Doug Beabout CPC’ who talked about direct sourcing by IM. I take this to mean Instant Messaging rather than InMail. I haven’t come across direct sourcing using Instant Messaging – could you shed some light?

    Many thanks

  12. I am all over the web with Facebook, Blog, Twitter and others. Although I enjoy it and it has a lot of less quantifiable affects, I have not had a lot of success that I can point to like “I got that person from Facebook, that person from Myspace and that person from Twitter” For me, social networking is high time investment – low return particularly given that my open positions are usually a group of highly disparate skill sets. Suggestions?

  13. Tom,
    I find that in some cases, the most highly disparate skill sets are the easiest to mine Facebook, MySpace and Twitter for. Many skill sets require a certain lingo or degree, and so you can go to and see who is talking about for examples, their CSS or actionscript, or search Facebook by company, degree or job description.

    While you can’t always attribute the exact action of your social networking to finding a person, I think that the awareness that you provide to people by being on those networks is incredibly valuable.

    Also, I think that the strongest way to use the social networks to generate hires is to get many people from your company on. The power of referrals! Have everyone post the job opening, then you have reached that many times more people, and you might be able to offer a referral reward to someone who finds someone on their network!

    Hope that helps a bit. You can contact me at if you want to chat about it too.


  14. I would pose these questions to Carina and others who indicate success on sites other than LinkedIN…

    For what skill sets are you searching? Are the skills unique to a demographic that would be more “Twitter-prone” than other skill sets? Or are the experience requirements sufficiently low that that only Gen-X, Gen-Y or other such branded cohorts would be prone to use those technologies?

    Reason for the question? I have a strong suspicion a seasoned heavy-oil refining specialist is not going to be discussing hydrocracking on FaceBook. He/she MIGHT be in a specialist group on LinkedIN.

    Which brings up a point that seems to be right below the surface of this discussion…as pros in this business, we need to have a range of tools in our box…traditional phone skills, well-sharpened internet mining skills, an “early-adopter” attitude to globe-shrinking technologies like LinkedIN, Facebook, etc. And as pros, we need to know which tool…or tools…to wield at what time to capture the candidate slate that will meet the needs of the client.

    This statement, not meant to be preachy, by the way, transcends what stripe of recruiter/sourcer we are…captive, freelance, retained, contingent, RPO…doesn’t really matter.

    Bill Wright
    Sr. Recruiter
    Spherion, Inc.

  15. I n response to Ben Fawcett’s question about “IM”, I mean Instant Messaging. The vast number of candidates (as well as hiring managers) have a “CRackBerry” or at least a means of reaching them by IM. Many of the Web sourcing tools can reveal a person’s IM contact. Our researchers will frequently attempt to make initail contact with a potential candidate by IM once the telephone and VMs result in no reply. It really is amazing how a person can ignore two or three VMs but response in minutes (or seconds) to an IM. Its not a replacement for all other means of recruiting but the pool of candidates definitely reacyt and many prefer an IM. We have had many candidates reply while in meetings at work, you know they aren’t going to take your call while in that enironment!

  16. A big part of what I like about Web 2.0 is that it invites people who are enthusiastic about their professions (craftspeople) to engage with other enthusiasts, keep up to date on best-practices, and stay at the bleeding edge of their field. Those are the people I want to hire.

    If someone’s not sharp enough to take advantage of these available technologies, then they’re missing out on a huge advantage. I’d much rather get the candidate who’s already in the know, and constantly updating their skills like this – it pays off. Once you hire them, they’re going to keep at it, reading blogs, dipping into interesting Twitter streams, etc. They’ll use that knowledge to make their work for us that much more valuable.

    It can be tough to initially work out how to use the tools to your own advantage, and frankly there’s a time-suck element to the initial ramp up, but the pay off is high caliber employees. I think that’s worth the effort.

    If you’re curious about all of this, the first thing I’d recommend you do is install Flock – I think it’s the perfect browser for our work. You can integrate a lot of the best parts of Twitter, FB, RSS, etc into one bucket and save a bunch of time doing so.

  17. I am a recruiter, and I do not use linkedin, and I agree with the prior post that it is a double edged sword. Call me old-fashioned, but the potential for abuse of social networking sites remains a huge issue. I am appalled that people in the human resources industry have no problem with potential privacy issues relative to posting personal information about themselves, especially job histories, on the internet for anyone to see.

    Some companies automatically feed job information on to linkedin without employees even knowing that their personal information is being posted on the site. There could be stalkers are other nuts attempting to remain in contact with individuals who have no desire to have personal information about themselves made public, especially their current place of employment.

    I have no doubt that linkedin will eventually become the scorn of the recruiting industry, when there is a massive security breach, identity theft is linked to the site, or someone is harmed personally as a result of information posted on the site. Common sense should tell you that posting your personal job history online is a huge security risk, especially for those of us with an HR background.

    Recruiting on linkedin and searching for candidates with a large network, means nothing, especially when it is very easy to set up a bogus network of contacts. Companies who place ads exclusively on linkedin are missing a huge pool of qualified candidates and are ruling out qualified candidates who have concerns with posting private information on the internet.

    I am a white male, but I have a large number of African-American professionals in my social network. I don’t know if its cultural, and I am not saying that it is, but I often ask the question of my African-American friends, if they have a profile on linkedin. While some do, the large majority do not and they state they will not post personal information about themselves on the internet. All of my friends are trustworthy, and I have worked with many of them for several years, and would recommend them highly. Just because they do not wish to post their personal job history on line does not make them any less trustworthy than someone who is willing to accept the risk of doing so. Given that potentially a disparate proportion of African-American candidates do not have profiles on linkedin, the site could very well be used as a tool of discrimination in employment, and companies using the site for exclusive advertisement of positions could very well be setting themselves up for litigation.

    Human resources professionals should always place a high value on privacy. I will continue to recruit in the old fashioned way, i.e., networking through friends and colleagues that I know, without utilizing social networking sites. I do not wish to risk my personal security or privacy, nor would I request that someone do so.

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