Anti-Social Recruiting

AntisocialAlthough I’ve often joked about the concept of anti-social recruiting (as if there was anything other than “social” recruiting), anti-social recruiting does exist, and it is unknowingly practiced by many people and top companies as well.


Allow me to explain.

Social,” as defined by Merriam Webster, is “…the interaction of the individual and the group,” and “tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships.”

What most people refer to as “social recruiting” is the use of social media and social networking sites to find, engage, communicate and build relationships with potential candidates with the intent to network and recruit.

However, simply using social media is not enough. Social media has the potential for social interaction, but is not automatically or intrinsically “social,” defined as interactive. For something to be interactive, by the very definition of the word, it must be “mutually or reciprocally active” and involve two-way communication (e.g., a phone conversation).

Not all people and not all companies using social media in their recruiting efforts are actually engaging in two-way communication with potential candidates. However, the two-way engagement, communication and relationship building is (and always has been) the “social” part of recruiting.

Anti-Social Recruiting

To be antisocial is to not be interactive, and to not form relationships.

If, as I suggested earlier, recruiting has always been social, how can anti-social recruiting even exist? Unfortunately, quite easily. Anti-social recruiting exists whenever their is a lack of interaction.

Here are a few examples of anti-social recruiting:

  • When a company fails to respond to someone posting a question or comment on their Facebook page, LinkedIn group, or Twitter stream, they are performing anti-social recruiting. Oh the irony!
  • Any time an individual or organization fails to respond to or even recognize any response to one of their job postings, they are performing anti-social recruiting. Automated emails may technically be “responses,” but I don’t know of a single job seeker that would consider automated email confirmations “social.”
  • Any time a person submits their resume and fills out an online application and never receives a response, the company is performing anti-social recruiting.
  • When a company using Twitter has 1000’s of followers and is only following a handful of people, they are performing anti-social recruiting.
  • Any time someone interviews for a position and never receives any real feedback from the recruiter or company, they are experiencing anti-social recruiting.
  • Whenever someone’s resume or social networking profile is automatically captured and added to a company’s database and they are never contacted, they are experiencing anti-social recruiting.
  • Any recruiter who speaks to a candidate only once, submits the candidate’s resume to their hiring manager/client and never contacts the candidate again (the #1 complaint about recruiters, BTW) is performing anti-social recruiting.

In all of the above cases, there is a lack of interaction and an absence of forming cooperative and interdependent relationships with potential candidates.

That’s anti-social.

Bright Shiny Object

I’ve seen people react negatively to the concept of social recruiting being compared to a bright shiny object, but I believe it to be quite apt. The term doesn’t carry an intrinsically negative connotation – being a bright and shiny object isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it simply describes attention paid to newer and more “interesting” things at the expense of being distracted from other things, typically those older and more familiar (and thus dull, I suppose).

I believe a side effect of all of the attention being paid to the use of social media in recruiting efforts is that focus has been taken away from the as-yet-to-be-resolved lack of the “social” element of more traditional recruiting methods and strategies.

I don’t think anyone or any company has ever truly “solved” the challenge of the anti-social nature of job posting and (lack of) response. Applicant Tracking Systems are by-and-large still the “black holes” from which no response escapes that they have always been.

Job seekers are still complaining that they don’t hear back from recruiters and companies after applying for positions (whether they are posted on corporate websites, Indeed, job boards, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn), posting questions on corporate Facebook pages, tweeting comments in corporate Twitter streams, being submitted to hiring managers and even after interviewing.

I surely cannot be the only person who is scratching his head at the excitement and effort being poured into using social media for recruiting when most recruiters and corporations can’t even get the basics right with more traditional methods.

That’s the bright shiny object syndrome in effect.

People are trying to figure out how to use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for more effective recruiting, yet they still haven’t figured out how to effectively leverage their applicant tracking systems.

What about the tens of thousands to the millions of people (yes, many major corporations have millions of candidates in their databases) who have either already expressed interest in a company by applying and submitting their resume and application? These are people who have already taken the first step in reaching out to a company, expressing interest in becoming employees – why aren’t companies focusing on getting good at being social and reciprocating with this huge candidate population?

It seems more than a little backwards to me to focus heavily on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn when most companies haven’t figured out how to be more social and interactive with their applicants.

Final Thoughts

I think that recruiters and corporations should seek to bring more “social” (two-way interaction and engagement) to ALL of their recruiting efforts, and not solely focus on being “social” through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

As much energy and effort should be spent on trying to figure out how to improve the historically anti-social nature of job posting and lack of response, applicants being sucked into black hole ATS’s, and poor follow up communications with candidates pre/post-submittal and interview.

No aspect of recruiting is social unless it involves “mutually or reciprocally active” two-way communication, regardless of the medium.

So the next time you’re reading about or discussing anything recruiting related – ask this simple question: Does it involve two-way, interactive communication?

If it doesn’t, it isn’t social.

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  • Glen,

    I echo your sentiments about recruiters being Anti-Social Recruiters and they have to figure out a way to respond to incoming queries / requests of candidates.

    However, your post seems to be totally one-sided. While you have really captured “Candidate” side of the story – the other part has left un-touched. No company / recruiter wants their candidate left unanswered and unsatisfied. Especially for companies – that’s not good for their brand value. It’s a big risk that companies run into knowingly / un-knowingly.

    Though all these things hold true – what is a SOLUTION? A company like Infosys receives a 100k applications per year (it’s a fact). While not responding to them is not a solution – what’s a best way here? An average recruiter over here receive 10’s thousands applications and how you expect them respond everyone? I expect that commonly that recruiter cherry-picks best fits and put rest in their database. Picked candidates go forward and rest lay-down in “Black Hole”. Though looking at long term prospects – even those database candidates needs to be updated; however “How” is the question. Yes, you can have those typical response emails like “Thanks for sending blah blah” – but that don’t give them proper reasoning.

    With a VERY HUGE traffic coming in every day – Recruiter / sourcer can’t spend too much time on responding them. Hence, what is the best solution here? What do you do in this case? Do your company have a better method for this? We already know this is one of the biggest problem in corporate recruitment – I am still looking for a feasible solution which work both ways….


  • Heather

    Glen – I would also beg you to look into the impact that social “recruiting” networks have on the passive candidate. By allowing these individuals to lurk and learn more about a company, we could be making a great hire down the road. So the investment in Social Recruiting adds interest into a companies roles and profiles and can pull the RIGHT candidates forward.

    And to echo Sarang below, candidates need to work on self selecting positions that they are appropriately qualified for. Recruiters can not spend 90% of their time responding to the 100s of candidate that are woefully not skilled to perform the function of the position.

  • jer

    agree w/ heather

  • @ Sarang – thank you for the thoughtful comment and questions! If I had “the” answer to the challenge of best handling a huge influx of job posting respondents, I would likely be retired living in a castle estate in Scotland. :-) Seriously though – I don’t have the ultimate answer – I wanted to challenge the status quo that has been established with the lack of response to candidates applying to positions. Just because a better way hasn’t been found yet, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If intelligent, insightful and innovative people step up and refuse to accept that “that’s just the way it is,” we can make some progress. Frankly, there hasn’t been any progress in job posting response in 20+ years.

    @ Heather – thank you for your suggestion and comment! I must be clear that publishing content without interacting with people isn’t “social” recruiting – it’s social media marketing. Listening without engagement & interaction is important, but it isn’t social, by the very definition of the word. I have no qualms with publishing content via social media – jobs, articles, etc. – it just can’t accurately be referred to as “social recruiting.” It would be folly to not try and put employer branding content and employment opportunities in front of people where they live online (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), but it’s simply not social unless there is two-way interactivity. With regard to passive candidates, I am not so sure that the best approach is to wait and hope that they decide to take action and make the first move, but perhaps I am alone in this view? Additionally, I recognize that a great many people do not do a very good job of matching themselves accurately to positions, but that doesn’t make the status quo acceptable. As soon as we all accept that it’s “just the way it is,” there will never be forward progress or a breakthrough with regard to this issue. And it is an issue.

    @ jer – you can do better than that. :-)

  • I agree with Jer!

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  • Heather

    Glen – You indicate that publishing content WITHOUT interacting isn’t social recruiting and I do agree with you there. But what about publishing content and then actually interacting, talking to potential job seekers, having 2 way dialogue about roles and slowly over time creating excitment about your positions so that candidates then want to reply, surely that is not JUST marketing?

  • Heather – if you’re publishing content and actually interacting with potential job seekers and candidates, you’re definitely performing “social recruiting,” and kudos to you because you’re in the minority who’s actually being social and not simply broadcasting content.

    It doesn’t take much research to see that many recruiters and companies aren’t doing much more than social media marketing – the lack of interaction is easy to spot. I will continue to maintain that many people are using “social recruiting” inaccurately to describe what they’re doing with social media – if it isn’t interactive, it simply isn’t social.

  • sara

    One of the things I appreciate about social media is the opportunity to learn about things I am not aware of. In HR, I’ve found that good social media staff not only lets people know about what we offer, but also cues me into what’s going on outside our organization. On that note, I noticed a great site you might like about keeping employees satisfied at 5 Strategies for Improving Employee Satisfaction in Healthcare

    I have found the tips to be invaluable!

  • I like the distinction made between social media marketing vs recruitment, the latter asking much more of the employer and therefore why we see so much more of the one-way, short term, mass communication online.

    I think this touches on the notion of the ‘psychological contract’ between employee and employer, traditionally thought of as the implicit promise an organisation makes to a new recruit (and vice versa), but as we can see, with social media allowing for genuine connections at the candidate stage, we could be missing opportunities to create this bond at a much earlier stage.

    If a stronger psych contract is a marker of how long that person will remain at a company, then employers could benefit hugely from instilling a sense of security, investment and engagement, or at least alluding to the promises they make to their employees, via online interaction at recruitment stage.

    We’re exploring these sorts of themes in the forums at HubCap Digital ( – I think you’ve opened up a real debate here!

  • Glen,

    Its about time someone commented about the unholy way people communicate through social networking.

    But I must say that some candidates, are also becoming unapproachable and only want to have text and email relationships.

    This is a two way street, I try to follow up with all my candidates within 48hrs of submission. I am fortunate to be able to take calls late in the evening and early hours. And have the flexibility that most people don’t have. I love having personal and professional relationships with candidates, and that takes time, and talking on the phone, and sometimes even meeting in person.

    Thanks and have a great holiday,


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  • Ironmind

    Your words place you about 20 years short of reality. 90% of ‘recruitment’ is bogus and harmful. Yes, the details of employee attachment and detachment should be handled by specialists, but nothing more. There is only one workforce. Not every company can draw from the top 2% of workers. In order for companies to be socially useful, en masse they must draw from the entire workforce. Yet every organization is full of spin about how good are their particular workers and every recruiter is full of **** about how the company for whom they are recruiting is something special. This is the big lie. Across the board, ‘recruitment’ serves no useful purpose. As if there were not already enough of parasitism to be borne by honest citizens, somewhere along the line the disease of the recruiter became the epidemic that we now see, the slippery layer of purulent slime that separates workers from the employment that is rightfully theirs.

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