Social media is having a major impact on how and where candidates are recruited. 

Many candidates will apply online or register their details on social media. 

And recruiters may initially use social media in their search for new talent: LinkedIn was rated by 31% as the most effective method of attracting applicants, after own corporate websites (62%), recruitment agencies (49%), job boards (38%) and employee referrals (33%) according to the CIPD (in 2013).

Social media is also replacing traditional recruiting advertising in print media and is considered to be a cost-effective way of reaching potential candidates.

In its Graduate Recruitment Survey 2013 (Winter Review), the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) said 96.3% of its member employers used online promotions including company website, social media and job boards to advertise vacancies.

The review says the increasing popularity of online promotions to raise brand awareness and graduate recruitment is attributed to its cost effectiveness compared with print media. 

A minority of AGR members said they had not printed any publications for the 2012-2013 recruitment season, believing that social media, coupled with advertising on university portals, could reach graduates more effectively. 

There was also a view among employers that certain types of print media are no longer appealing to graduates with the advent of social media.

Although LinkedIn and Twitter are the top two sites used by organisations, some high profile organisations – Accenture, the Royal Navy and CERN to name three – have made great use of the Facebook in their recruiting campaigns.

'Personal' versus 'professional'

Candidates see a clear distinction between personal and professional social media networks – and use them for different purposes. For example, Facebook, where 74% of professionals maintain a profile, is used mainly for personal connections. Twitter is also hugely popular, with newer networks such as YouTube, Google+ and Instagram taking a smaller share of the market.

LinkedIn has become important for professional networking, with 85% of those taking part in a recent survey maintaining a profile and almost 80% of job seekers using LinkedIn to research prospective employers. Around 69% of employers also have a corporate professional profile on one or more social media sites. And although 43% of employers use Twitter and 42% have a Facebook presence, these are used mainly for marketing and promotions.

Despite the huge advances in social media recruitment, the report found recruitment consultants remain the leading option for job seekers (43%) and companies (49%), followed by job boards and company websites.

"90% of candidates are happy to be solicited for jobs via LinkedIn"

Nine in ten candidates are happy to be solicited for jobs via LinkedIn – and 80% would apply for a relevant job that appears in their profile feed. So it’s important employers advertise vacancies using channels and platforms that will reach and appeal to the right candidates.

Social media is hugely important to candidates as a method for researching the market and an organisation’s social media presence has a significant impact on applicants in shaping impressions of a potential employer. Again, of all social media sources used for research, professional networks beat other sites by a margin of four to one.

But using professional networks to post vacancies is not enough. 

Employers must maintain high quality content on company culture, employee opportunities and plans. Participation in online groups specific to a particular sector or industry is also important.

It would appear that most employers are taking a sensible approach to the use of social media in recruitment - despite many applicants believing that potential employers view personal profiles at an early stage.

Having clearly established the value of social media, employers should not replace interviews and other established practices to assess candidates. Over reliance on social media could exclude or deter good candidates.

Your social media recruitment checklist

  • understand what different social networks can do for the organisation and use social media that is most effective in recruitment
  • use a targeted approach on social media used by potential employees they would most like to recruit 
  • remember that a well-managed professional social media profile is just one route to attracting candidates
  • use social media to reinforce corporate values as it is normal for job seekers to investigate a potential employer through professional networks
  • ensure that information on corporate social media profiles is informative, concise and easy to follow
  • make sensible use of social media when considering prospective candidates. Personal profiles do not often reveal a candidate’s professional abilities.