Recruiting and Social Networking

data point tuesday_500

SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) debuted some new survey data at their recent Talent Management Conference in Las Vegas. Published on April 11th, Social Networking Websites and Recruiting/Selection is interesting. And some of the data may not be what you think.

Employers use social networking sites during the recruitment process as tools to recruit candidates who might not normally apply. Expanding their reach to passive candidates, candidates with specific skill sets and candidates in specific geographies, recruiters seem to be very strategic in their use of social networking tactics and sites. I’m not surprised by these data.

Here are some of the findings I found a little surprising:

  • More than half (57%) of employers do not have a formal or informal policy on screening candidates via social networking sites.  

Really? In this age of increasing regulation and compliance, the majority of employers don’t have a policy about using social media to screen candidates? No guidance for recruiters? No guidance for hiring managers? I wonder if this is an “ignorance is bliss” approach or a calculated “we already have policies covering the use of social media at work” approach.

  • Employers that have policies on screening candidates are evenly split (21% each) in allowing or prohibiting the use of social networking sites for screening purposes.

This fascinates me. And it bears watching. There are legal dangers in the offing. Court cases are starting to decide the legal issues involved in using social media sites for applicant screening. And recruiters and HR pros don’t want to end up on the wrong side of this one.

  • About two-thirds of employers never have used or no longer plan to use social networking sites (69%) or online search engines (65%) to screen applicants.

This makes sense given the regulatory environment HR deals with today. And the fact that the courts are just starting to address these issues. However, it’s entirely unrealistic to believe that hiring managers aren’t using social networking sites to screen applicants. I believe that HR isn’t. I don’t believe that hiring managers aren’t.

  • 41% of employers target executive/upper management (e.g. CEO, CFO) when searching for candidates on social media.

This is really surprising and could spell doom for the executive recruiting industry. I would have expected a much smaller percentage of employers would use social networking sites for the recruitment of executives since it’s assumed that most employers turn to executive recruiters to find executive talent like CEOs and CFOs. If the use of social networking/media sites for executive hiring gives employers confidence to recruit executives on their own, a major shift in the executive hiring dynamic could be underway.

I was also interested in the differences in the survey question answers between 2008, 2011 and 2013.  Not only are the percentages changing, the number of respondents is growing, which I believe means that social media is being integrated into more nooks and crannies of HR. Take a look:

Social Networking Websites and Recruiting Selection SHRM 2013

This is interesting on lots of levels. And I look forward to continued growth at the intersection of HR and social technologies.

Hopefully SHRM will field this survey again in 2 or 3 years.



Filed under Candidate Screening, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR Data, Recruiting, SHRM, SHRM Survey Results, Social Media, Social Networking, Social Technology

9 responses to “Recruiting and Social Networking

  1. Pingback: Best of the Summertime Links: Facebook Recruiting Edition

  2. Pingback: SHRM Survey Findings: Social Recruiting - Newton Software

  3. I’m curious to know the ways in which companies are using social media to enhance recruiting from a referral standpoint. There is a difference between searching networks for candidates and enabling employees to reach out to potential candidates through their own networks. Referrals have always been a great way to reduce recruiting costs and many social networks are making it incredibly convenient to cast a wide net. I’m curious to see how that sort of referral-recruiting influences the HR landscape going forward.

  4. My 2 cents: What is claimed is not what is observed- per Tim’s comment. SHRM has the resources but needs to identify the differences in the answers to these questions by filtering a) what recruiters say who work in big companies as recruiters b) what recruiters say who work in smaller firms and who at times do other things and c) what hr folks who occasionally hire say. And, what about the employers who say they haven’t and won’t screen that way but have contracted with 3rd parties to recruit 1/2 their F/T, P/T and contingent hires? It’s why surveys like this have, unfortunately, serious flaws in the analysis of the data.

    • Totally agree, Gerry. These are interesting discussion points. Even if truthful, not sure they reflect reality. But you would know that better than anyone on the planet!

  5. China,

    “About two-thirds of employers never have used or no longer plan to use social networking sites (69%) or online search engines (65%) to screen applicants.” Isn’t really a truthful statement. HR Pros aren’t going to admit to this, even in a confidential survey, because they fear getting caught and getting in trouble. How can 66% +/- of employers say this, then on the flip side 90%+ will claim to be using social networks to recruit employees! Oh, we use the sights to recruit, but not to screen!?!? Makes no sense.


    • That was my first thought, too, Tim. How could they change the survye questions to get to the truth? Also, these are corporate HR folks for the most part — not 3rd party recruiters and most certainly not hiring managers.

  6. These are interesting findings. I too, am surprised to see these results surrounding executive recruitment. Then again, due to economic, competitive, and regulatory influences thinking differently about executing on HR initiatives is a requirement to maintain viability and relevancy. If I can find a great executive without spending huge fees, social networking is that disruptor to make it happen.

    • Hi Treshsa: I’ve long been fascinated by the executive search business model. Despite incredible changes brought about by social technology the business model has remained pretty much the same — as have pricing practices. I wonder how long this can be sustained…

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