The Pitfalls of Social Recruiting
Monday, November 30th, 2015

In just a few short years social recruiting - i.e. recruiting through social media platforms - has gone from being a rare practice to the norm. In fact, recent research by social recruiting platform Jobvite showed only 4 per cent of recruiters don't use social media in the recruitment process. While another 4 per cent aren't sure, the 92 per cent that do use it are casting their nets wider, expanding from the traditional channels of LinkedIn and Twitter to platforms such as Pinterest and even Snapchat.

It's easy to understand the appeal of using social media as a recruitment tool. After all, it's free and allows you to reach a mass audience instantly and with little effort. But social media is just one channel among many and relying on it too heavily is fraught with danger.

I monitor Twitter frequently and I'm amazed at how extensively it's being used by some very well established recruitment firms. If you want to get real results for your clients then tweeting alone won't do. There's a place for it for notifying people about job opportunities but it's dangerous to assume you will get a strong, diverse field of candidates. While you may receive a flow of CVs as a result of a putting out a tweet, you will have to do a lot of work to filter out unsuitable candidates.

Specialist recruitment requires a tailored, targeted approach.

While many people consume messages through social media, many others don't, and by relying on it you are potentially alienating your target market. I have found that, when it comes to recruiting for senior roles, the highest caliber candidates do not often put themselves forward. They also don't tend to consume social media or respond to tweets or even direct messages. Rather, they expect to be approached about opportunities, to be 'tapped on the shoulder' and courted, as it were.

At Goodson Thomas we will tweet about a job opportunity to get it out there but we won't then continue to tweet about the position on a daily basis; for us it's more of a branding exercise, to let people know that this is the sort of role we handle.

LinkedIn is a powerful social platform used by many recruiters. It is more intuitive than Twitter and allows you to make some really good connections. But again, the over-reliance on it as a recruiting tool is a cause for concern. I know some recruiters who will look at a LinkedIn profile, summarise that person's background and present them as a potential candidate without actually engaging with them.

We would never pitch a candidate to a client unless we had express permission from that candidate to do so. It all comes down to trust and relationships. We talk at length with a candidate about their background and the potential opportunity to assess their suitability.

Anybody can write a good CV or a strong-sounding LinkedIn profile - you can even have them written for you - but unless you personally engage with a candidate to find out what their career journey has looked like and what their aspirations are, you don't really know anything about them. We do a lot of background checks, and we don't accept pre-agreed references. That way when we are presenting to the client we are confident we know this person and there are no red flags.

I know of a couple of candidates who were offered positions on the strength of their online profiles but when it came to their references they weren't exactly glowing.
This presented a cause for concern and ultimately led to the offers being withdrawn.

A targeted approach to recruitment would have identified those issues earlier on and saved the client a lot of time and money.

Siân Goodson is the Founder and Managing Director of Goodson Thomas

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