Redefining Social Recruiting for 2011

Well it’s been quite a year for live events so far, climaxing with the excellent TRU London a couple of weeks back.  I’m not going to write anything more about TRU as there are already so many excellent blog posts out there, you can see most of them aggregated here. During the recent Social Media Week I gave a brief presentation in which I looked at some of the emerging characteristics and definitions of social recruiting. I first tried to define the term 18 months or so ago and wanted to revisit my thoughts based on what I was seeing in the marketplace now.

The presentation was actually filmed and I’ve embedded it below but I thought it was also worth summarizing the key points for those of you who don’t have a spare 14 minutes to watch the full video!

Social Recruiting is a concept not a defined technique

This is a really key point for me. Social Recruiting isn’t a clearly defined approach or set of tactics it is a concept and set of ideas loosely based on using the social parts of the web for talent attraction and recruitment. This sounds fairly straightforward but it can actually be quite difficult to grasp in practice. I’m forever seeing people debating and arguing about “social recruiting” and it will often turn out that the source of their conflicting opinions is the fact they are actually both talking about completely different things!

So what are employers actually doing in this space? Well based on what I’ve seen from companies so far, “social recruiting” activity seems to be falling broadly into these three categories.


The most visible approaches are, I would argue, just old fashioned web 1.0 tactics that involve pushing job postings and other content into social channels to take advantage both of the large audience and any possible viral effect. This could include everything from broadcasting jobs via Twitter to running more structured digital recruitment advertising in Facebook.  Purists might scoff that companies are missing the point and that this isn’t what social media should be about but this is counter balanced by the successes many advertisers and “broadcasters” are achieving. Either way though the quality of content and thought behind the output needs to improve considerably if any of their current success is to continue.


If Push looks a bit like advertising then pull looks very much like good old fashioned recruiting. As well as being many other things, LinkedIn is the biggest user generated database of talent anywhere in the world and as such has given many employers the platform to really move forward with their direct sourcing strategy. In a recruitment market where it is hard to persuade top talent to make a move and recruiters are often inundated with response to their traditional digital talent attraction methods, social sourcing has offered the opportunity to advertise less and engage more with the right people at the right time on a one to one basis.

Genuinely Social

While push and pull tactics certainly seem to be both valid and successful, I can’t help but feel though that employers who are not extending their activity to genuinely social conversational based methods, are missing out on the true power of social media. Also as employer reputation and brand become ever more important, taking part in “the conversation” will become vital.

Here are some of the areas where I’m seeing companies being genuinely social.

Peer to Peer Recruitment

A key area that social really enables. Allows companies to use their own employees as brand advocates and give potential hires a unique perspective into the culture of the area of the company they are thinking of joining

Referral Schemes

I’ve written about these before here and here. Most recruitment has always come from referrals. Difficult to do but once employers can find effective ways of extending their referral schemes to properly tap into the digital social and professional graphs of their employees, this will be huge

Talent Communities

There is currently lots of debate about whether some of these are proper communities or are actually just socially sourced lists of names. Where ever the thinking goes though there will definitely be a role for the genuine community in certain sectors of the marketplace, especially in areas like graduate recruitment

Reputation and Brand

Not necessarily a specific recruitment tactic but nevertheless incredibly important strategically. Somewhere a conversation is taking place that will effect your reputation as an employer. It could be positive it could be negative but the key question companies should be asking themselves is “do we know about it?” and “are we influencing it?”

The video of my presentation and the short accompanying slide deck are embedded below:


[slideshare id=7192799&doc=socialmediaweekmattalder-110308102659-phpapp01]