I Invented Social Media for Recruitment & Hiring

Take my social media for work survey by clicking here and let’s focus on building unbiased resources to help make or unmake the case for enterprise social media and social recruiting. 

I pretty much invented social media for recruitment. It’s true and I’ll explain why exactly in a moment. Social media for use in the enterprise has a number of different uses which are 7 to be exact. One of those happens to be recruiting and hiring.

It’s nice to see the technology adoption of social media. Our friends at Jobvite are showing that usage of social media for recruitment is continuing to grow. Highlights of their 2012 survey show that:

  • 92% of recruiters are planning to use social media in their current year’s recruiting efforts
  • 49% of recruiters said that social media recruitment increased candidate quality

From these statistics it looks like social media must be a cost effective way to distribute jobs with little effort using an XML feed while also targeting an increasingly growing online community using targeted keywords, content marketing and just social conversation all through a free platform that serves as a destination for millions or even billions of users each day.

The ROI of Social Media is Recruitment and Hiring

Well, yes and no. My challenge with surveys like Jobvite’s are that they are a social recruitment and HR technology company. They have a vested interested in these numbers being high, but I do appreciate the fact that they provide this information because it’s information that is very much needed in our industry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Jobvite. They are a client. I’m just a fan of more neutral studies take for example Gerry Cripsin of Career XRoads annual source of hire study. Click here for their 2013 study. There needs to be a more neutral third party.

That’s the reason I started gathering insights and data for my own social recruitment and social media enterprise study. You can participate by clicking here. It’s just 5 minutes of your time. I’m looking for real insights from real HR and recruiting teams on how they use or don’t use social media in their jobs without bias, tactics or just plain BS.

Just as a refresher, the 7 uses of social media in enterprise and at work are listed in the graphic below. This blog is part of a blog series that breaks down each of the uses of social media at work starting with the first in the series you can visit by clicking here.



It’s no secret that social media in my mind is a great candidate and engagement source. I just believe we, as human capital leaders make a big mistake when assigning some 24 year old millennial to build your corporate and enterprise social media strategy. Yes, sure they understand social media because they grew up not knowing what a rotary dial phone is or what it’s like to have to actually get up to change the channel on the TV. It doesn’t mean these same tech savvy individuals are qualified to build a high level recruitment strategy. Man, I’m starting to sound old.

How I Invented Social Recruiting and Hiring

In 2001, I was one of those 24 year old punks who thought I knew it all. I was new to human resources and recruiting having just graduated with a bachelors degree in Anthropology and Business. I had no qualifications whatsoever to work in HR or recruiting. But when are we ever really qualified to do something and if we have no qualifications or experience how do we ever get experience to be qualified? We do so by breaking rules, challenging the old way of thinking and trying new things. That’s the reason why I’m saying that I invented social recruiting.

In 2001, I worked at Target and was having a challenging time for candidates for a variety of store positions from entry level cashiers to store managers and department supervisors. I only had $250 a quarter to spend in advertising methods which I promptly spent on newspaper advertising. The logic was that I could either run a number of newspaper ads or a single job board ad on Monster or CareerBuilder. I choose to use the newspaper because in this Western Kansas town, job seekers were not using this technology to search for jobs.

Lots of candidates applied for the job applications which were only available in store via our 2 application kiosks. I had a line from opening to closing as people applied. With all these applications I hired on 2 candidates because they just weren’t the right fit for the job. I was screwed blowing all my budget and set on making my boss happy. So I set out visiting competitor locations trying to guerrilla recruit which went great until I was kicked out of the only two grocery stores in town which I could no longer shop. If I didn’t find another strategy, I would be driving 50 miles to the nearest town to buy milk, cereal and other grocery items my Target store didn’t carry. Enter social media.

In 2001, people spent the majority of their time doing two simple things. Watching porn and online dating. It’s interesting to note that social media online activities actually outpaced porn on the internet in 2011. While porn was appealing, there really wasn’t a way to recruit job seekers specifically. Online dating websites creating a direct sourcing and candidate engagement opportunity.

So I recruited successfully a number of employees using dating websites, chat rooms and forums all at little to no cost. Often times they were free. And I found actual qualified job seekers who were interested in my job opportunities. I hired people. I began tracking the source of hire correlation to turnover and found that candidates I recruiting online and with social media were almost always a better investment. They stayed with the organization longer which saved me time recruiting and sourcing for new talent for my company.

So yea, I didn’t actually invent social recruiting, but to date I’m the earliest recruiter who can actually say they used social recruiting to find talent with actual results and an established ROI. If I’m not the earliest, please connect with me because I’d love to swap stories and learn more about how you fell into social recruiting. I guess overeager 24 year olds who don’t know the rules isn’t really a bad thing?

Love this series? Check out part one on social media for work by clicking here

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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