LinkedIn Dominates Social Media Sourcing and Recruiting

Jobvite social media 2013 popularIf you need any more evidence that LinkedIn is the sourcing tool of choice, then look to this morning’s Jobvite survey on social media recruiting, which says 94 percent of recruiters who use social media use LinkedIn.

This sixth survey of recruiters and HR professionals shows the steady increase in the use of social media for recruiting, and especially LinkedIn’s dominant position as the network of choice. From 2008, when 78 percent of respondents said they will or are using social media, to today’s report when 94 percent say that, LinkedIn’s popularity has been a constant.

In that first report, 80 percent of the survey takers said they use LinkedIn to find candidates. Facebook then was used by 36 percent. So thoroughly has LinkedIn preempted the field, that in today’s survey sourcing doesn’t even appear in the top five uses recruiters make of Facebook.

LinkedIn, however scores big for just about every activity involved in sourcing and hiring workers. By overwhelming percentages the survey takers said they use LinkedIn to:

  • Search for candidates (96%)
  • Contact candidates (94%)
  • Keep tabs on potential candidates (93%)
  • Vet candidates pre-interview (92%)
  • Post jobs( 91%)

Recruiters use social media sitesFacebook and Twitter, the two next most popular sites with the survey respondents, aren’t even in the same league. Neither site rates anywhere close as a sourcing tool, and even posting jobs to them — one of the earliest Twitter services — is favored by less than half those using LinkedIn for that purpose.

Instead, both sites are most used for brand building and generating employee referrals. Sixty-five percent of the respondents say they use Facebook for showcasing their brand. That’s the top rated use recruiters make of the site.

Both Facebook and LinkedIn offer company pages; Facebook calls them Facebook for Business. Using LinkedIn for employer branding didn’t make Jobvite’s list of the top five uses, but that’s most likely because of the high percentage of recruiters who use the site for sourcing and direct hires.

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Accounting for the popularity of social media recruiting is that it works. Three years ago, only 58 percent of the Jobvite survey takers said they’d made a hire via social media. In this survey, that number has jumped to 78 percent.

What the survey doesn’t report is how many hires employers attribute to social media. CareerXroads, which surveys its roster of clients, most of whom are in the Fortune 500, found employee referrals, company career sites, and job boards to be the source of well over half the external hires. Social media accounted for 2.9 percent.

Jobvite, however, found that social media recruiting has other benefits. According to Jobvite social media 2013 spendthe report:

  • 49 percent of the respondents say the quality of candidates is higher;
  • 43 percent say the quantity is higher;
  • 60 percent estimate that the value of the hires they make through social media is greater than $20,000 annually; 20 percent put the figure at better than $90,000 annually.

No surprise then that almost three quarters of the respondents say they plan to invest more this year in social media recruiting.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


13 Comments on “LinkedIn Dominates Social Media Sourcing and Recruiting

  1. Social Media is nice, but last I saw very, very few candidates actually came from there at the end of the day. Until I see that change, I’ll always think LinkedIn is over priced beyond belief for what you actually get.

    In terms of the quality of candidate gotten, I’d love to see some attempt to objectively measure that vis a vi performance and tenure. In my experience if you simply tell someone a candidate is ‘passive’ or surround them with some magical jargon that implies they were hard to get or weren’t looking, or anything along those lines, they’ll immediately assume higher quality, an that assumption will carry through the interviews and hiring process. Even if the person just applied the day before through the corporate site or Indeed or other job board. I’ve done my own ad hoc experiments here that at least anecdotally confirm this.

    LinkedIn is a great tool, but so is a table saw. The latter is at least reasonably priced. Paying 20-30K a year for a few job slots and some tools that make using LI a little more convenient doesn’t strike me as a good value proposition.

  2. Thanks, John. Besides contributing only 1/35 of all hires, I’d like to see the typical time from initial SR contact to start date; I bet it’s very long. Once again, it looks like SR is best for fattening the wallets of those consultants who get paid to advocate its use, but not particularly good at quickly and affordably putting quality butts in chairs.


  3. Unfortunately very fre companies share their real success with social media in terms of cost per hire, time to hire, man hours invested, etc. I would venture a guess that the results will not be very strong at this point. The issue is not that LinkedIn is not a great tool – its becuase the tool is misused.

    Recruiters tend to use LinkedIn as their personal database of names – always eager to take from the platform but never building credibility within the platform. It seems that we really dont want to use social media – we just want to the database. Short term this could work, however the long term effective is quite negative. Just last week I had three SVP/VP level candidates that I found through other sources indicate no interest in connecting on Linked in becuase they cancelled their profile due to the number of recruiter solicitations they get each day. Had I relied on LinkedIn I would not have found any of them! The sorry fact is that we so bombard those on LinkedIn, we are tuning them off to a potentially great tool.

    Learn to use social media for the value it can create – branding, engagement, and traffic – and maybe we will start seeing real value in it. Its time recruiters avoided the “silver bullet” syndrom of this and other tools like it. Have a plan before you jump into it.

  4. @ Stephen: Quite correct. As I’ve often said, the more people use a given technique or tool to recruit, the less competitive advantage any given person will have using it, as long as they use the same way as many others. IMHO, LI long ago passed the “choke point” of no longer allowing easy access with a reasonable chance of response for the “Fab 5%” everybody wants…That’s why I encourage lots of recruiters to use GitHub, Stack Overflow, TalentBin, and Entelo, so those will quickly become choked/of limited use, too. That way, we can recognize that finding people through new means (or old) isn’t the main concern- it’s getting them (through having a competitive thing to offer) that’s the REAL problem, and some new-fangled digital contraption (No, I’m not quite that old, but it’s fun to write “new-fangled digital contraption”.) won’t solve it….

    Cheers and Happy New Years,


  5. From a “survey” standpoint, Jobvite being in the social media space is going to have an audience that predominantly uses social media and might not be representative of all recruiters. IMHO.

  6. Not surprised that LinkedIn dominates social sourcing/recruiting, at least in the U.S., where LinkedIn represents two-thirds of the United States’ non-farm employed. Would you really want to avoid 67% of the U.S. workforce?

    Unfortunately, having access to and using LinkedIn doesn’t mean you’re actually any good at sourcing and recruiting with LinkedIn. That’s not LinkedIn’s fault. There are plenty of companies who get much more than 1/35th of their hires from LinkedIn – they just don’t publish their stats for everyone to see.

  7. Also – Keith, I just checked with one of my recruiters for a recent example of a LinkedIn hire…iOS developer in NY – 4 weeks from initial find/contact to walking on the client site, so about 2 weeks from find/contact through interviews to offer acceptance.

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