People have been criticizing Facebook because of the IPO fiasco. If you believed the hype that Facebook’s earnings and prospects justified a 100x valuation then you only have yourself to blame. However, much of the data that’s coming outshould give recruiters some pause as well when using social media.
The conventional wisdom behind using social media as a recruiting tool is that it gives us unparallelled access to candidates. Facebook has 900 million members and we can tap people’s connections to get jobs in front of their friends and relatives and friends of their friends. But does any of this matter?
First, the vast majority of jobs are still filled by people that live within a 50 mile radius of the job site, so what difference does it make that Facebook has so many users? Most of these are not people that can be candidates for any particular job.
And they don’t pay much attention to ads or job postings – the online advertising firm Mediabrix estimates that the click through rate on Fecebook ads is 0.05% – less than 1 person in 1000 looks at them. There’s no reason to believe that people look at job postings any more.
And why would they? People are on Facebook to have conversations and catch up with their friends – not because they’re shopping or looking for work. It’s a place to be social – not professional. Anyone who wants to read job postings can always go to a job board.
As for reaching people’s friends and relatives – there’s little evidence this happens either. People may occasionally be willing to refer a job to someone they know, but hardly anyone makes a habit of it.
People do reach companies to find jobs through social media but the data suggests they don’t do so directly. Candidates are finding jobs through social media.
A survey we conducted at The A List shows that almost 50% of all candidates that have found jobs in the last year did so through connections — mainly by tapping their friends and relatives. About a quarter of those connections were reached through social networks. You can’t very well be friends with a company so it’s no surprise that people rely on connections. Social networks – the offline kind – have existed since long before the term existed.
So what have we learned from Facebook? We learned that what attracts people to social networks is the social part (duh!).
The only way this can work for a recruiter is to create interesting conversations around topics of interest to potential candidates. That is, develop talent communities. This is easier said than done. It’s labor intensive and time consuming.
And there’s one more problem: as a recruiter you’re likely going to have nothing to contribute to such conversations. If you’re hiring electrical engineers, Java developers, nurses, or accountants what could you possibly say that would be of interest to people in that field? You need to involve others that can do so.
When I first started recruiting I was with a small software company where we needed Delphi programmers. I started attending a Delphi user group where I would go and sit in the back of the room and wait for an opportunity to talk with people.
It was exceptionally dull. I used to carry a Walkman (remember those?) and ran the cord for the earplug through my sleeve and sat leaning to one side so no could tell I wasn’t listening to the people speaking.
After a few weeks it was obvious this wasn’t working (trying to connect with people, not the Walkman — that worked fine). It was obvious that I didn’t belong there and the people didn’t really want to be solicited for jobs.
So I started bringing a few of our developers to these meetings and they of course had wonderful conversations. I’d tell them to collect business cards and follow up with people they met. This worked great.
It’s no different with talent communities. Get those who have something interesting to say involved, but have no illusions that this will be easy or quick.
The key is to make it social. Most recruiting processes are anything but social so it’s a major shift in how we source candidates. It may work, and the benefits may be well worth the effort.
Our survey also showed that people who find jobs through connections (including social media) are overall more satisfied with their decisions and have lower turnover.