Is social media a SCAM for recruiting

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Last week a US recruitment expert Peter Weddle called social media a SCAM for recruiting. He stated that it was a waste of time with no ROI, although he did not use the term ROI. Finally his prediction was that social media will not be the future of recruiting until 2014 while job boards will remain the predominant method of finding a job.  His source two survey’s one his own and the other by AfterCollege:

Social media came in at number 15 on the list of choices and was selected by just 10.9% of respondents which, of course, included those most celebrated for their use of social media—Millennials.

Well Peter’s comments got a few people all flustered, including Paul Debettingnies and Jim Durbin also known as The Social Media Headhunter.

I am not going to comment on the posts more a comment on the ROI of using social media for recruiting in Australia (some have links to stories others are examples I have picked up in the marketplace):

  • First up Darryl King from Ireckon hired his new Project Manager via Twitter.
  • The boys from Happener use social media as the backbone of their business.
  • Amneisa Rasor Fish hired their Director of Social media through Twitter.
  • Amy Cato from Cato & Hall hires a vast majority of her placements via Facebook.
  • Thomas Shaw has many customers placing candidates through his Facebook apps.
  • V set up a dedicated careers site on MySpace to allow young Australian’s access to 60 ‘never-to-be-advertised’ positions. 4,000+ applications and all positions were filled and V achieved over $750K in marketing exposure.
  • Deloitte Australia actively uses social media sites as a talent pool source.

I could continue but I think you get the point this also ignores all of the recruiters using LinkedIn and LinkMe to source candidates.

I have said it before and will continue to say it social media does have a place within your recruiting strategy but it is NOT a recruitment strategy on its own! The key is to understand where the talent hangs out online and then develop a strategy to engage with them on their terms.

Case Study

The Forrester Social Technographics 2008 report shows that Gen Y (18-28) are significantly higher Creators, Critics, Collectors and Joiners then other generations up to 49 index points. While Gen X overall are more likely to be Spectators (63%), Joiners (41%), Critics (32%) and finally Creators (24%). Young Boomers do not participate with social media anywhere as often as Gen Y or Gen X, Young Boomers are Spectators (48%), Critics (29%), Joiners (27%) and Creators (17%) which is not a lot different to Older Boomers or Seniors.

So if your target market is Young Boomers (43-52 year olds) leading with a social media is not the right move. If you market is Gen X you need to develop a method for them to be consumers of social media or even critics.

8 thoughts on “Is social media a SCAM for recruiting

  1. Yes, you’re spot on. This is a no-brainer really, and very shortsighted of companies that are not twigging it. Marcomms recruiters Market U advise both clients and candidates that they need be aware of the opportunities and the potential pitfalls of social media in the recruiting process (see:

    One of my girlfriends just got a job that I pointed her to via a note I saw on Linkedin. That’s ROI.

  2. Hello,

    Peter’s comments are based on the research we conducted last month. Social media is the wave of the future, and an effective communication method, but based on all data that we see at AfterCollege and outside, social networking has not yet caught on as an effective tool for finding a job. It may work for headhunters looking for candidates, but at least from the candidates’ perspective, we’re hearing differently.



  3. Well said Michael. While still with Microsoft, I personally hired many candidates using Linkedin (which by today’s standards is not really unusual). I continue to use a variety of SNS to source such as LI, Twitter, Facebook, and even Mobile Marketing to connect with my target audience. Unfortunately, it is easy to forget the basics because we are all so dazzled by the plethora of tools on the web. We often don’t ask the right questions of why we do what we do. I would say that you quite nicely summed it up when you said…

    “The key is to understand where the talent hangs out online and then develop a strategy to engage with them on their terms.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Cheers!

  4. @Roberto Interesting results from your survey. I wonder though if you had asked employers/recruiters where they are finding candidates you would get a very different result. I would completely agree that chatting with friends on Facebook is not the best way to get a job. However social media is a fantastic resource for job seekers to research, find and engage with potential employers. Not to mention social media allows candidates to improve their digital footprints so that when employers/recruiters research them positive messages are found.

  5. Michael S, you bring up a good point. We intend to do an employer survey later this summer as well to get their thoughts. We’re always open to question ideas to include in our research.

    The point of the survey to students and alumni was to get their perspective on what works and what doesn’t so we could share it with employers. I’ve read some arguments that job seekers don’t know networking and social networking and need to be taught. That’s the main argument used. Truth is, these new grads don’t know much about how to go find a job after they graduate, period. So the idea is to take what they do as a baseline, and share with employers so they can identify the quickest path to their target audience. This works for the students and also for the employers.

    We also narrowed the responses to those who had an easy time finding a job (we assume these folks knew what they were doing). The results were very similar. Job boards got bumped down from #1 to #3. Various forms of networking came up, and social networking went down further for this audience.

    I agree, employers should put time into their social media, but based on our data, it’s even more important to work on their corporate web sites.

  6. Social media is like any internet based activity, it certainly requires some caution. But it is a wonderful tool that really uses the power of small. Building your network one at a time is making a connection with a potential employer.

  7. I’m an in-house recruiter. We don’t use social media to attract, brand, source, headhunt, or anything else with our candidates. Why? Because we don’t need to. I’m am not arguing using social media doesn’t work; I’m sure some companies, as mentioned, have great results, but they are still the minority and the early adopters.

    Do the rest of us need to start developing social media strategies or get left behind?

    Personally I find it annoying for the promoters of social media as a recruitment tool to say things such as “This is a no-brainer really, and very shortsighted of companies that are not twigging it” – . Thanks Jennifer, but calling your potential customers shortsighted, is not winning you any contracts where I come from!

    Michael gives stats on the generations and ‘creators’ or ‘spectators’ comparisons, but in my world it doesn’t seem to matter (yet?!?). We recruited 20 University Grads this year from 700 applications. No tweets required, no Linkin/me needed, no blogs, Facebook fan pages or Youtube vids were needed. They’re firmly Gen Y, so how come we get 700 apps? We also recruited 10 trainees straight from Year 12. They’re 17 and 18 year olds. 120 applications. No social media was used or required to get very high quality fields and recruits.

    What i’m trying to say is, yes it may work, but so do traditional methods. Until you can convince me I’d get better results than the above using social media – why should I bother?

    I, and many in-house recruiters, are NOT shortsighted – and we are “twigging” it (thanks Jennifer!) – we can see what’s happening – but we just don’t need it yet!


  8. Hi Phil, thanks for your comments and differing persective. There’s no need for concern for my business or contract process. Pretty much all of my clients are early adopters or open to change. If they are ignoring social media at this point, and it is relevant to their business, they are not a potential client.

    I find it interesting that you appear to take umbrage. You are engaging with social media, you are testing the blogging waters, attending future focussed conferences such as RecruitTech2009, and engaging with twitter. I wouldn’t have called recruiters like you short sighted. You have “twigged” that it’s something to explore. You are well positioned to make informed decisions.

    My comments stand. If you are a recruiter and not engaging with social media, you are short-sighted.

    Í don’t believe this is about traditional versus new methods. It’s not good or bad. It’s horses for courses and if you are happy with your results with traditional methods and in an industry where the ideal candidate is unlikely to respond to a social media recruitment campaign, then that’s great.

    But what happens to the company the first time they are unhappy with traditional methods, and they have no understanding of how to engage, with who, and with what. Or the recruiter who faces a significant cut to a marketing budget?

    They won’t be in as good a position as the many companies who either use recruiters who understand the social media space or have in house recruiters who already engage. Still a no-brainer to me.

    Jennifer (jenfrahm)

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