Over the last several months I’ve been engaging in a debate on ERE and other blogs about whether recruitment companies can benefit from full-bore use of social networks to attract candidates.

Staffing Talk readers know where I stand, that the answer is in and that the profitable players have long since made social media a cornerstone of their business and not a sideline activity. But apparently I’ve offended some in the recruiting space who still make their living (maybe!) by interruptive mining techniques.

Here is some of the give and take from the blog postings and comments:

Raghav Singh wrote a convincing essay that described corporate career sites as “essentially static” and criticized enterprise Facebook activity as essentially useless. He also writes that:

“The idea that employees can be writing, blogging, and putting out stories about their employer without review can give many an HR manager an acute case of dyspepsia.”

Singh may be right about the dyspepsia, but top-down enforcement of social media activity is a kiss of death.

Here is my response to him:

The writer unfortunately destroys the credibility of an otherwise well-written essay by maintaining that business Facebook pages and corporate websites have no part in the dynamics of social networking.

He writes that “corporate pages on Facebook … prove ignorance of online social media," but the reality, as any 21-year-old can tell you, is that with a Facebook page a business instantly creates a hub for the conversation that employees, customers and others participate in by posting photos, RSS feeds, comments and so on. That you can do all that for free and instantly and have a place that people can link to each other and propagate the network makes it a no-brainer.

He also writes that “corporate web pages” are “essentially static” and play no part in the social conversation. Nothing could be further from the truth! Witness the rise of the content management system as the platform for the website with the very purposes of creating a social network.

Recruiters that fully integrate social media with their website and private talent pools will emerge as winners, and those that relegate it to anointed non-enterprise "social networks" will lose.

Noted recruitment blogger John Sumser took up Singh's argument on the issue: “There are 7 Million employers in the United States. Trying to capture them in broad generalizations doesn’t work very well. Nonetheless, it’s disingenuous to suggest that employers are already engaged in social recruiting. We don’t even have a good definition yet.”

In other words Sumser and Singh make the argument that since the vast majority of recruiting enterprises use Facebook and Twitter ineffectively (throw enough mud at the wall and some will stick)  that the task should be left to the real pros who understand how to build community.

I say no, and that if you want to succeed in staffing then you better not leave this new way of doing business to anointed Internet players.

What do you say?

Tags: Staffing, Social Media, Raghav Singh, Recruiting, Social Networks, Industry, John Sumser, ERE, Blogs, Dyspepsia, Facebook activity, Recruitment companies