CareerXroad's 2012 Sources of Hire has hit the virtual shelves of our in-boxes and Twitter feeds, bringing fascinating findings about the current status of recruiting, and promising developments for the future.

In January 2012, authors Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler interviewed staffing heads from small to mid-sized companies. The results correspond with the developments noted in last year's report. Referrals are the primary external sources of hire at 28%, up from an equally impressive lead of 27.5% in 2011, and job board usage dropped from 24.9% to 20.1%. The survey's long-anticipated addition of social media met a respectable 3.5%.

Almost 50% of the companies stated that it takes them no more than 5 referrals to make a hire. And even more remarkably, 40% of respondents thought that candidates who were hired through referrals were influenced by social media.

Spotlight on social media

This data presents an astonishing turnaround from 1997, when newspaper ads were capping the charts at 28.7%. Now, 15 years later, print ads account for only 2.2% of hire sources, and social media is emerging as a definitive player in driving candidate interaction with companies. Crispin agreed with this trend, saying that "[s]ocial media has much more value than we can see just from the numbers. It may not yet be leading directly to hires, but like referrals, it has a strong influence.”

Yet with all of the hullabaloo over its projected impact on the recruitment industry, the respondents' actual experiences were admittedly discouraging. When asked about social media's effect via the three outlets of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, answers wavered between "No impact" and "Limited", rising to some "Targeted" with LinkedIn.

The challenge facing organizations worldwide is that they do not have enough exposure on social media networks. Their reach is limited, and they need to update their content constantly. It is therefore difficult for them to maintain a social media presence and effectively attract talent.

If social media is to be the next big thing, companies need to learn how to strategically leverage this powerful tool. Drastic tactical changes need to be made to the basic approach in order to enable recruiters to use it to its fullest potential.

Social media…and referrals

Factor in the major strides referrals have made in cementing their place as the top source of hire, plus the reported influence social media has in securing successful referrals, and the solution is clear.

Referrals and social media combined present the most effective way to reach top talent.  Companies can generate qualified referrals by leveraging their employees' social media networks.

Social media is positioned to be the rising star of sourcing because everyone is on it. It offers a far better range than job boards - these only attract active candidates, that small, unqualified fraction of the talent pool. Social media, on the other hand, opens the door to passive candidates.

The key is engaging with this first-rate community. That's where your employees come into play. Together, they have access to the best – and in exponential numbers. A recruiter's own scope is restricted by the various limitations set up by the social media sites. But the reach of 500 employees can simultaneously connect you with thousands of candidates within their networks, equally as qualified as they are. Even more, employees represent a trustworthy, less biased source than recruiters, and their network peers are more likely to pay attention to their posted messages.

Recruiters already recognize the benefits and inevitability of this development. In the survey, when asked how they intend to modify their current recruitment tactics, the top two responses were to improve their referral programs and increase their social media presence. At the same time, they also plan to decrease dependency on job boards.

Indicative of a clear movement within the sourcing playing field, their confidence in the capabilities of both referrals and social media show us that changes will take place within these mediums.

The challenge is how to turn this recognition into sustainable activity – namely, how to make it work. Uniting the two practices of referrals and social media into one infallible strategy can multiply access to top talent and increase the influx of qualified applicants.

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Comment by Suresh on March 5, 2012 at 10:14am

Thanks for the summary, interesting projections for 2012.

Its interesting that Linkedin is categorized as a Social Media tool, but most companies are using it as a Job Board for Targeted Job Posting.

Small and Medium sized to increase their social media presence will have to engage in online advertsing on focussed web sites, in my opinion.

Comment by Jerry Albright on March 5, 2012 at 11:18am

Until Linkedin is removed from all stats involving "Social Media Recruiting" - none of these surveys are in any way accurate. 

"Social" media is Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Meant to be "social" - where people go to unwind, laugh, share stories or pictures, etc.

Linkedin is NOT a social media site.  Period.  But what about all the "content" you ask?  Doesn't the content confirm it most certainly IS social media?  Nope.  I'd hazard a guess the majority of "content" there is recruiting hot air, interview tips, jobs and the like. 

So for me - none of this confirms (or denies) anything.

Comment by Assaf Eisenstein on March 6, 2012 at 8:24am

Hi Suresh,

Thanks for your comment!

I agree with you that for small and mid-sized companies, online advertising is an important way to reach out to candidates, especially passive ones. And as much as companies are using LinkedIn as a job board, it has so much potential to facilitate discussions and long-term relationships with top talent. Even more, leveraging employees' networks opens the door to a wellspring of these candidates.



Comment by Assaf Eisenstein on March 6, 2012 at 8:41am

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for commenting!

The way I understand 'social media recruiting' is not so much with the focus on the social in the traditional sense of the word, but rather with what these sites - like Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn - allow for: networking and the creation of two-way dialogues. Yes, the content on LinkedIn isn't "all social, all the time." But the common denominator between the sites is the community element and the wide range of connections - in our case, to passive candidates. For corporate recruiters, this is especially true when they combine the employee referrals aspect, and multiply their reach of qualified candidates.  




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