Social Media Hiring ‘So Much More Than Just Posting Jobs'

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

May 11 — Social media is becoming a near-ubiquitous hiring tool but one employers are not necessarily exploiting to full advantage.

The proportion of employers that use social media in recruitment has reached 60 percent, representing a more than fivefold increase from 11 percent in 2006, according to periodic surveys on the subject by the Chicago-based jobs website CareerBuilder.

The foremost reason employers use social media for hiring is to glean information on candidates' qualifications, the answer of six in 10 of those organizations. So it's not surprising that 41 percent of the 2,186 hiring and HR managers who responded to the survey, which Harris Poll conducted online for CareerBuilder Feb. 10 to March 17, said they are less likely to hire someone without an online presence, a figure that has grown 6 percentage points since last year.

About half (49 percent) added that they have chosen not to hire someone based on negative information found online, and 32 percent said that positive information found online has helped them decide to hire a candidate.

Candidates Checking Employers Online

The checking goes both ways, with 18 percent of the 3,031 employees who also participated in the poll saying they have researched hiring mangers online through social media, according to an April 28 press release from CareerBuilder.

A similar finding comes from Matawan, N.J.-based talent acquisition software provider iCIMS. “According to our recent research, 43 percent of people ages 18-29 are using social media to look for or research a job compared to only 24 percent of those aged 50 or older,” Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at iCIMS, told Bloomberg BNA in a May 11 e-mail.

“The majority of candidates surveyed are now spending one to four hours researching a company before applying and nearly a quarter are spending five or more, illustrating this group’s extremely well-informed ‘consumer shopping' behavior,” she added. “Make sure you have a real grasp on the best way to reach your potential employees.”

That last point is key. Successfully using social media for hiring and promotion “is so much more than just posting jobs,” Kevin Martin, chief research and marketing officer at Seattle and St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), told Bloomberg BNA in a May 11 interview.

Get Current Employees Involved

One excellent way to exploit the power of social media in hiring is to get current employees involved. Suggested Vitale: “Get employees working as ambassadors—encourage them to share open jobs with their social networks to expand your reach beyond just the corporate social media account. Consider using an automated social media job distribution tool and even incentivize your employees in order to increase the participate rates.”

Martin suggested: “Make sure that your employees are aware of all job openings. They should be able to apply to those themselves as well as be provided with links they can share via their networks on Facebook, Instagram, etc.”

One example he cited is outdoor equipment retailer REI, which offers employees two paid “Yay Days” a year to go out and enjoy their favorite outdoors activity, asking that employees “post a photo or video of their select activity to a social site.”

Another leader in this area is IBM, according to Martin. The computer giant uses social media “for hiring and preparing college students before they start at IBM,” a period that can last several months. During the wait time, “all of these college hires become part of a social community called Soon 2 B Blue,” he said. “Each person—based on the role they are hired into—is granted access to learning content that will be useful to them in their awaiting jobs. And, once they walk in the door as an official IBM employee, they then join a different social community called New 2 Blue, in which they have access to different content.”

Other tips on social media use in hiring offered by Martin and Vitale were:

  •  “Develop both internal and external talent acquisition strategies. To source candidates, high-performance organizations reach both internally and externally using social media at a rate nearly two times that of lower-performers,” Martin said.
  •  “Create a consistent employer branding strategy that leverages social media and aligns with your culture and business needs,” Martin said. “Make sure your brand is accurately displayed for potential job seekers,” Vitale added. “Post images and video of employees displaying those core competencies that your company most desires.”
  •  Remember that younger job candidates are especially active on social media, said Vitale, so “employers should ensure they are optimized to accept applications via social technology.”
  •  Be aware of which specific social media platforms are hottest for job searches. “Surprisingly, Facebook is the most popular social media site where job seekers research companies with 52 percent doing so,” Vitale said.
  •  Don't disengage once you've completed the hire. “Make sure the ‘social' elements they utilized to learn about and engage with your firm pre-hire are available and utilized once on-board,” Martin said.


To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Harris at