What Social Recruiting is NOT

Social_Recruiting_NotAfter recently writing about moving beyond the hype of social media and recruiting, I took some time to reflect quite a bit on the topic, and focused a critical eye on exactly what “Social Recruiting” is.

While there is no shortage of what people think “Social Recruiting” is, quite frankly – I’m not satisfied with any of the definitions and explanations I’ve found – most are too surface level and one-dimensional, as well as inaccurate, in my opinion. It seems that a large portion of what many people seem to be happy to accept as “Social Recruiting” is really nothing more than traditional job posting and employer marketing and branding in a 2.0 environment.

However, I can definitely appreciate the challenge of trying to nail down an accurate and concise definition of “Social Recruiting” – it’s quite the slippery fish. So rather than trying to answer the question of “What is Social Recruiting?,” I’m going to tell you what I think Social Recruiting is NOT.

Social Recruiting is NOT Posting Jobs and Press Releases

Posting job openings on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is not Social Recruiting – it’s simply posting jobs on social networking sites. Job posting is job posting – there’s nothing “social” about it, regardless of where the jobs are posted.

On Tuesday, January 19th, 2010, I posed this question on Twitter: 


Here are some of the insightful responses I received:

  • @CMcKenzie77 Where’s the “social” piece if a company only posts jd’s & news releases? #socialrecruiting -Its missing conversation..Rt?
  • @IrishRecruiter If company only posts job and press releases on Twitter, it is NOT #socialrecruiting. It’s nothing…
  • @mysensay No, that’s just a corporate website or job board dressed up as a Twitter account.
  • @jeroenkneppers no way. Both posting jobs & press releases is 1.0 sending in a 2.0 environment. Social Media is about conversation
  • @aglogan No not IMO. Personally I don’t think it’s any different to advertising on a job board. The tweets offer no value.
  • @julesmontgo If your admin can do it, it’s not #socialrecruiting. No offense to the admins…
  • @anniechae Where’s the human touch in job posting/press releases? I prefer connecting, relating & interacting with what’s b/t the ears
  • @tombolt There can be active or passive recruiting, but only using twitter passively is missing the point of #socialrecruiting.
  • @TimDineen it’d be best if corps forget “managing” accounts /strategy and just be human #socialrecruiting
  • @jayveniard no it’s not social recruiting its social media marketing…corporate TA will say it’s recruiting
  • @davecarhart Definitely not. Unfortunately that style accounts for the good majority of corp recruiting accounts

These talent acquisition professionals on Twitter all agree that just posting jobs and press releases on Twitter isn’t social recruiting. In fact, I did not receive a single response to the contrary.

I particularly liked @jayveniard’s assessment that posting jobs using Twitter is social media marketing. I agree. Posting open jobs anywhere is simply promoting and distributing an opportunity for employment. Can anyone make a solid argument that posting jobs is “recruiting,” regardless of where the jobs are posted?

Social Recruiting is NOT Sourcing Candidates on Social Networks

Searching LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to find potential candidates isn’t Social Recruiting. Talent identification is only 1 step in the entire recruiting life cycle (albeit a critical one!). If anything, it’s “Social Sourcing.”

Regardless of what you would like to label it – there’s nothing social about identifying candidates. You don’t even need to be human to source candidates from social networking sites – there are apps that can do that. 

Social Recruiting is NOT Just Having a Facebook Fan Page

Have a corporate Facebook Fan Page? Awesome! Have a bunch of cool “What it’s like to work at…” and community involvement videos, links to awards from major magazines, press releases, etc.? Great!

However – is any of that really recruiting? Isn’t that just marketing and branding? 

Yes, it’s a no-brainer to have job search functionality directly on your Facebook Fan Page, to post jobs opportunities, and link to your corporate website from your FBFP. But job search, job postings, and website links do not a “Social Recruiting” strategy make.

Social Recruiting is NOT Just Being on Twitter

While the “Big 4” firms are often used as leading examples of how to leverage social media for recruiting, how “social” is it to only follow 15 people on Twitter? How about following only 1 person? Where’s the engagement and the 2-way communication?

Wait – it gets better. Is it very social to only follow your own Twitter accounts? 

I won’t name names – you can do the research. You’ll be shocked.

So if you have a corporate Twitter account and you don’t follow (m)any people, you don’t really respond to anyone, and you’re only posting jobs and content from feeds – how “social” is that? 

That’s called talking and not listening.

Which is really interesting given that many Social Media “gurus” claim that one of the biggest opportunities presented by Social Media lies in listening. 


Social Recruiting is NOT Going to Replace Job Boards

It’s currently popular to trash job boards, proclaim they are dying, and say that social media is delivering the coup de grâce, but job boards aren’t going anywhere.

You see – for all of their supposed flaws, job boards actually serve a purpose.

It’s simply convenient to go to a place and find a large collection of jobs to search through. Sure, you can use any search engine to look for jobs, but that actually doesn’t make much sense. Why use an Internet search engine to search for jobs? 

Try going to Google anyway and enter something like: Java Software Engineer Jobs. Check out the results. 


I see Indeed, Dice, Careerbuilder, Monster, WashingtonPost.com, and LinkedIn (which most people think is more job board that social networking site, btw).

While Indeed is technically different “under the hood” from traditional job boards because it’s a meta/vertical search engine for job listings – it’s still a website with a bunch of jobs.

Which is what job seekers – active, casual, and even some “passive” – want and need. It’s simply convenient to go to one or a few websites to search for and review jobs. What’s the alternative? Individually search 100’s to 1000’s of corporate websites? Label sites like Indeed and Simplyhired whatever you want, but you won’t change the purpose they serve.

If you want to buy a car, you go where cars are sold. If you want to scope out potential jobs, you go where the jobs are. Yes, I know job boards are the root of all evil – but they actually serve a purpose, even if they’re imperfect and fail to serve that purpose as well as they could.

There is nothing that social media can do to eliminate the desire and need to conveniently search jobs on websites that have the most employers and opportunities listed. When you go shopping, do you really want to go to a store that has a small inventory with a limited variety? Some people, maybe? Most people, no. 

Your Thoughts?

“Social Recruiting” is the hot phrase in talent acquisition these days, but make no mistake – social media and social networking sites aren’t intrinsically “social.”

It’s the people using social media and social networking sites to be social – to listen, engage, and interact in two-way conversations – that’s the “social” part. Unless recruiters and companies are using social media to have two-way conversations with potential candidates (instead of a one-way, one-to-many shotgun blast approach), social media isn’t any more “social” than a job board or a phone on the hook. 

Now that I’ve drawn a line in the sand and delineated what Social Recruiting is NOT, I’d like to hear from you what you think Social Recruiting IS.

  • Glen,
    Thanks for sharing your opinions on social networking. I enjoy reading your posts. As I continue to struggle to get a handle on how social media can help me recruit better; I find your points quite relevant but at the same I believe that these tools are still evolving. Job boards have their place and they will adapt and evolve too as we see the web 2.0 growing. Your are right – people go where jobs are but in my opinion – as recruiters we go where people are. And most people today are on facebook, linkedin, twitter etc. Its upto us how we use these tools. While posting jobs is a good sourcing technique – an extension of recruiting into marketing onself- a step towards making us more visible; but it is no way a full proof way to source or to recruit. I would like to believe social media as a Relationship Management tool. A gradual and consistent effort in following and connecting with people who you can benefit from or who can benefit you. Its a long term process and a new dimension to recruiting in this recruiting life!

  • Glenn, Brilliant as always. You’re spot-on with the notions of job boards not going away, (great analogy with the car purchase BTW) and also with the fact that if you only follow your own Twitter accounts. (I’ve seen it!)

    It’s a truly difficult thing to define what it IS, since its still somewhat in toddler-stage. The reason there are SO many broad definitions, is because there are SO many users with SO many opinions.

    But that said, here’s a shot. It IS about the interaction, communication, and relationship building that leads to the fruitful recruiting efforts. This isn’t core to social recruiting, this is the core to RECRUITING. Isn’t that what all good recruiting is based on? Relationships? Wasn’t that the fundamental reason behind the advent of employee referral programs?

    We’ve just taken it one step further, with all the new expanded technological capabilities we have now. (OK, well some of us have). In the end, what it IS, is interpersonal communication and rapport development. The recruiting is what happens once those have been established, IMHO.

    Great, Great post.

  • Definitely described the common mistakes or common entry points that most companies take to recruiting socially. Just spend some time searching on large corporations and you will see that they have almost all, if not all of them. The real question – is do they integrate those extra opportunities into their normal sourcing strategies or are they just being visible?

    Like you posted before this is just another set of tools in the toolbox to help get the best qualified candidates for the openings that you have. It could speed the process up or it may help validate a candidate better for a better quality candidate – but it never replaces what has been tried, tested for years.

  • Glen,
    Excellent observations. For someone as new to “social recruiting” as myself, I often struggle with the question of “what it is”. I introduced myself to SR as mainly a place to post jobs, but hopefully keep evolving to really turn it into a relationship building tool. I’m never sure what effect my tweets or blogs or posts have on my recruiting efforts (or relationship building efforts), but I think one of the biggest benefits I’ve received is hearing advice and techniques from other great recruiters (like yourself) and expanding my knowledge base.
    Keep up the good work and sending great advice!

  • Mark Sullivan


    I like your spin/approach on topics and they usually hit home for me. Within my company I have repeatedly said “I hate using these phrases – social media and social recruiting – but that’s what everyone is calling it.” I guess when I attended association networking events early in my career that was not “social recruiting” it was just recruiting.

    The sites, interactions, relationship building, etc that is discussed is no different than before it is just on a different medium. People are hung up on forming relationships on these sites, when that is not the case (your posts about JIT recruiting). Get on the sites, read, learn, post content, interact when you can and if it leads to a hire that’s great. For a corporation these sites are marketing tools (social media), for the individual recruiters they can use them as professional networking sites or tools to find and interact with candidates. The advantage these tools have is that it gives us greater access to more information and people – a beautiful thing.

    Oh and the major boards will not “go away” – we still use print ads in some markets and the papers were supposed to be dead by now.



  • Social recruiting is really quite simple. Recruiters hanging out on Twitter and Facebook talking to each other about recruiting without actually doing much recruiting…….

    #sometimesIlikeit – #sometimesIdon’t

  • Good post. To me, “Social Recruiting” is a meaningless term. Isn’t recruiting inherently social to begin with?

    It seems to me that LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are additional tools that we can use to do our jobs. I use them because I know that my candidates use them, and that gives us more outlets through which to interact.

  • Glen, Great Post.
    Social Recruiting is…, i guess just a buzz word. After all, be it job portals, Facebook, Twitter etc, we all need to find candidates, pick up the phone, speak or meet for an interview. As long as its a two way process, its Social. What say…..

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  • Pat Martin


    I think you hit the nail on the head. Social recruiting is a two way street. For it to be true Social Recruiting the recruiter must engage with the candidate if only to let them know that they are not a match and perhaps lead them in the right direction. I use linked in to connect with potential candidates and clients alike. If people respond to my posting or to my email I always make certain that I respond back. In this economy I go as far as to give them direction that may help them to find a job. Todays candidate is tomorrows hiring authority and helping someone one today regardless of the financial outcome to you is true social interaction and therefore social recruiting.

  • Glenn,

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Facebook fan pages that contain nothing but PR postings and job announcements drive me nuts and make the company look pathetic. I’m also deeply disturbed that the vast majority of recruiters look to social media as nothing more than a sourcing approach. Social media can be applied throughout the recruiting and employee lifecycles to service, inform, educate, train, gather feedback from and engage candidates/employees. The keyword in that last sentence was service, something corporate recruiters haven’t done for decades. I’m finding that training departments are as narrow minded most recruiters when it comes to leveraging social media post hire, despite the huge potential for peer based learning. It’s truly sad how resistant to change most are.

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  • FR

    Hi Glen..

    I agree with you when you say that in the name of social recruitment companies are using twitter, facebook and linkedin mostly for job postings.

    But looking at whatever development has happened in social media tools till now, have we reached a situation where by putting same amount of time and effort we can find more suitable candidates through twitter or linked-in or facebook than from Job boards and other traditional methods? I am talking about better ROI.

    Please share your opinion.

  • Glen, here are my thoughts about ‘social recruiting’ :)


  • Like Amybeth a bit of self promotion, my thoughts on what social recruiting is http://bit.ly/9PTBRm

    Oh & yes recruiters who hang out on social networks talking to each other are NOT doing social recruiting they are socialising. They are also creating a wonderful echo chamber and missing what is happening outside ;-).

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  • Mike Chuidian 

    The term “Social Recruiting” doesn’t even make sense to me. We as recruiters USE Social Media as merely a tool to recruit and source from. When I pick up the phone and talk to potential candidates or am at a networking event talking to potential candidates, that in a nutshell for me is “Social Recruiting”. But why is it called something that it already is? Isn’t recruiting, in and of itself, an act of being social?