If You’re Truly Socializing Your Talent Strategy, You May be One of the Few

Bullhorn Reach recently published the results of a survey of more than 35,000 recruiters in its user network, tracking their use of social media. The survey focused on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

The findings are surprising. Only 21% of Bullhorn recruiters are using all three social networks. In fact, 48% are using only LinkedIn! Apparently these recruiters haven’t seen the study from Jobvite that showed that, in 2011, 50% of job-seekers used Facebook to find a job, 25% used Twitter, while only 26% used LinkedIn. Why aren’t recruiters fishing where the fish are?

Of course, the use of social media, by either recruiters or job-seekers, doesn’t necessarily mean success. But in case after case, I’ve found that it does.

For example, in 2010, UPS announced that it received applications from 680 people who arrived via Twitter — and hired 45 of them. Almost 4,000 people applied via Facebook, 226 of whom were hired. Heck, UPS even received 1,000 applications from candidates communicating via text messages. But I bet few recruiters have created a strategy for texting.

We also recommend our clients use YouTube for talent acquisition. Though it’s the world’s second-largest search engine (second to its parent Google), you’d be amazed at how few people actually have a YouTube recruitment strategy in place.

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The Jobvite study goes on to state that 18.4 million Americans “say Facebook got them their current job.” Only 10.2 million Americans give LinkedIn that credit, which isn’t much more than the 8 million jobs that were the result of Twitter. Bullhorn’s survey states that “a Twitter follower is almost three times more likely to apply to a job posting than a LinkedIn connection.” So why are less than half of its recruiters using Twitter?

I think I know why. As I told ERE’s Todd Raphael, Twitter can be intimidating to recruiters because of the sheer volume of information. It takes a focused professional, not just a summer intern, to monitor your chosen keywords and engage job-seekers. Twitter can be a time suck and also presents the daunting opportunity to have public conversations with applicants. But conversations can begin on Twitter and then become private, via direct message, email, or even a phone call.

Whatever the reason, recruiters who aren’t using all three major social networks are missing out on millions of applicants. As applications like BranchOut and BeKnown bring more professional searches to Facebook, recruiters who remain exclusively on LinkedIn will be losing the competition for top talent.

Jody Ordioni is the author of “The Talent Brand.” In her role as Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Brandemix, she leads the firm in creating brand-aligned talent communications that connect employees to cultures, companies, and business goals. She engages with HR professionals and corporate teams on how to build and promote talent brands, and implement best-practice talent acquisition and engagement strategies across all media and platforms. She has been named a "recruitment thought leader to follow" and her mission is to integrate marketing, human resources, internal communications, and social media to foster a seamless brand experience through the employee lifecycle.


12 Comments on “If You’re Truly Socializing Your Talent Strategy, You May be One of the Few

  1. Jody, the Bullhorn findings are interesting and I agree with the general points you make, but have you actually read the Jobvite survey in depth?

    Less than 200 respondents said that Facebook “helped” lead them to their current job. It’s hard to fathom how people believe that less than 200 people surveyed can accurately scale to 18.4 million. It’s quite a claim.

  2. Sorry Jody – but just about spit out my coffee when going through this first paragraph. These are the kinds of articles that end up helping prove my personal theory: Social Media Recruiting is pure hype.

    But I’m not laying the blame solely on you. The Jobvite report alleges 16 percent of job seekers found their jobs through Social Media. It then goes on to list 18.4 million via FB, 10.2 million via Linkedin and another 8 million from Twitter that attribute their current job to the sites.

    So – let’s add this up. That’s 36.6 MILLION PEOPLE claiming they got their jobs through just these 3 sites. So now, citing the previous number in the Jobvite report that 1/6 of job seekers found their jobs through Social Media – are we to believe that (36.6 million x 6) 219.6 million people got new jobs during this period of time?

    This is all just ridiculous.

  3. The article refers to “job seekers” using Facebook and Twitter more than LinkedIn. Most recruiters are seeking passive employed persons who may not be active job seekers for their clients. Job seekers may in fact be using Facebook to hang out with their friends and Twitter to see what is happening which may be why they are in fact “job seekers”. It is not hard for recruiters to find active job seekers. We primarily get paid for finding and convincing non active job seekers that our client has a better opportunity for them.

  4. Jerry,

    I believe you’re not reading the Jobvite numbers correctly.

    I’m looking at the 2011 Jobvite Social Job Seeker Survey. On page 12, Jobvite asked “Which of the following resources did you use that directly led to finding your current/most recent job?” and allowed for multiple answers. 16% of respondents named social media as a resource. We don’t know if those job-seekers used only social media, or ten different resources *including* social media. That should be clear from the fact that the graph adds up to far more than 100%.

    That graph makes an appearance on the infographic to which I linked. However, nowhere in the Job Seeker report or the 2011 Jobvite Social Recuiring Survey do I find that Jobvite “goes on to list FB at 18.4 million.” While the infographic at famousbloggers.net makes that claim, Jobvite itself does not. The infographic cites MarketWire, CNN, and About.com, so perhaps the numbers came from one of those sources. I would blame famousbloggers, or MBA Online (who created the inforgraphic), for that questionable claim.

    Between the two surveys — one addressing recruiters and the other addressing job-seekers — it’s clear that the use of social media in talent acquisition is increasing. What you call “hype,” I simply refer to as “optimistic projections.” In a few years, we’ll see which one of us is right.

  5. I was simply looking at the graphs representing these claims on the link I clicked. Perhaps there are several competing reports covered within the same survey?

    When I see an infographic clearly representing what I mentioned in my first reply – I assume that is the info the author was directing me towards. The link says “the study from Jobvite” – so perhaps my assumption that I was looking at the study from Jobvite was in error.

    Jerry in Indiana

  6. @ Jody. Thank you.
    Some points:
    1) What’s described as “Social Recruiting” is actually “Social SOURCING”. Since it is not the “deep, can’t-find-them-anywhere, word class- $40/name” sourcing, much of it can be farmed out to the $6.25/hr/folks…

    2) Re: UPS per Todd 2011/02/15:
    UPS attributes 955 hires in 2010 to the social media efforts, breaking down like this: 45 from Twitter (out of 681 people who arrived via Twitter and created applications); 226 from Facebook (out of 3,926 people who created applications); 84 from text-messaging (out of 1,004 who created applications); and 600 from people (out of 7,919 creating applications) going to UPS’s mobile-friendly careers page from a mobile device.

    A couple of sub-things:
    A) the application/hire ratio from this source seems to be 1/15 from Twitter, 1/12 from texting, 1/17 from Facebook, and 1/13 from the mobile page.
    B) I can’t find how many folks UPS hired in 2010, but I did see that they were planning to hire 25k years over 5 years or 5000/yr. (http://talkingtruckers.com/2012/03/01/ups-delivers-truck-driver-recruiting-success-through-social-media/) I’m going to arbitrarily say that for every 2 truckers UPS hired, it hired 1 non-trucker, which leads to 5000 truckers and 2500 non-truckers being hired in 2010. (I’d appreciate any better numbers if you have/can get ’em.) So about 1/8 of all their hires could be attributed to Social Media- which is typically more than 3x better than the 1/29 reported by Gerry C (http://www.slideshare.net/gerrycrispin/2012-careerxroads-source-of-hire-channels-of-influence). Of course, if my hiring numbers are off, then so is the percentage…
    POINT; Social Media is a SOURCING tool- and if it works for you- have the sourcers use it. However, DON”T go hog wild over it because some of repeated drum-beating by folks who have something to sell, and consider 1st putting your money into cost-effective tried- and-true methods of getting folks, like ERP programs.

    @ Jerry A: Well said., though I’d put it at about 80% hype…
    As i frequently say:
    “I fear that the hype will continue as long as there are slick hucksters with high-level connections ready to sell the latest recruiting snake oil or “magic bullet” to desperate and not-yet insolvent recruiters and their superiors who fail to recognize that in most cases they are futilely “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” of their companies’ ill-conceived, over-blown, grossly-dysfunctional hiring practices.”



  7. @Keith

    Hype is one thing, but I’d also caution against recruiters who see any new tool or development as “hype.” For every recruiter who falls too much in love with social media, there is another who believes “You simply CAN’T hire someone off Facebook.” Both of these recruiters, I hope we can agree, would benefit from a more balanced approach. UPS explicitly states that it hired employees from Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging. The numbers might be small, they might be atypical — but they can’t be ignored.

    However, thanks for bringing up employee referral programs. It’s our favorite strategy at Brandemix and it supports engagement, retention, and recruitment all in one. TiVo recently reported that one third of its 2011 hires were the result of referrals. We’ve created some long-lasting, effective ERPs with different brands. They’re a winning strategy for employees, companies, and job-seekers.

  8. Thanks, Jody. I agree- recruiters and our managers shouldn’t automatically resist new developments.
    We should use this litmus test to see if it lets recruiters
    1) Make more money (or the same amount for less work) at the $50/hr or more level.
    2) Increases the amount of high-level, creative autonomous (or decrease the amount of low-level, repetitive, closely-monitored)) work we perform.
    3) More efficiently gets quality butts in chairs, on-time, and within budget.

    If you can answer “yes” to these questions: us/doe it. Whenever possible, have the people actually doing the work give their input to the decision; the decision shouldn’t be made by someone(s) who won’t be involved in actually using what is being considered.



  9. Hi Jody,
    Interesting article that has certainly created some lively debate.
    I haven’t had a chance to read the articles referenced in the debate, but I would be keen to see the breakdown of professional vs non-professional jobs filled through Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn.
    I use LinkedIn exclusively as I am typically looking for degree qualified, experienced profissionals. I would think that FaceBook is probably not the right hunting ground for these types?! (happy to be proved wrong here).


  10. Change is never easy. Even when it is for the better. Old habits are “comfortable” and as the truism goes they “die hard”.

    As the strategist behind the UPS Social Media campaign we have gone to great lengths to remove bias and subjectivity of reporting and rely solely on trackable data to show proof of concept.

    We asked ourselves very basic questions:

    Can you drive applicant flow from Twitter – Yes or No?
    Can you drive applicant flow from Facebook – Yes or No?

    What is the efficiency of conversion to hire using these methods and how do they compare to others?

    When all the time, effort, resources and paid media (if used) are accounted what are the cph’s per channel and how do they compare to others?

    Lastly, what is the scale of the applicant flow these channels can drive individually and then ask how they compare to others?

    Jerry is terrific at what he does and he is looking for what I would refer to as “long-tail” searches for highly skilled (and probably hard to connect with even if you can find them) individuals. It is a very high touch process, I’m sure. And because he is highly respected in his field, he has built up a solid reputation for himself to be able to network effectively. For him and the candidates he is seeking his time-proven tactics work well.

    For UPS the challenge was different. UPS tracks to hire for all sources used without candidate self-selection or recruiter bias. As we stated when we presented the case study at Facebook for ERE’s #RIS last Fall, an investment of the same amount of money (year over year) using traditional online sources such as major job boards was yielding less applicant flow. We needed to look for cost-effective alternatives to offset the deficit. We put in place a methodology to measure the effectiveness of these alternative channels. We deployed and worked hard to optimize.

    Contrary to what you may have heard, there really are no Social Media “silver bullets”. Generally, in life there are no “quick fixes” either. You have to grind it out one way or the other. Recruiting through Social Media is hard work but for UPS it has become a viable, scalable and cost-effective channel. It’s not hype. When I presented at Microsoft in 2010 on what we had launched, many folks insisted that you could not drive any applicant flow from Twitter or Facebook at all. Now in 2012, the question is not if you can but how cost-effective it would be. We have the data that answers those questions. For UPS it’s a viable channel and it’s provided first mover advantage. UPS is to be commended. Sometimes, hard work does pay off. Their openness to innovation and eagerness to measure made all the difference.

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