HR Forum

Finding talent via friends

A FEW years back, when you wanted to recruit employees, you simply advertised in the newspapers, engaged recruitment agencies or posted the opening on online job boards and the company’s website.

Today, you tweet, you mention the job opening in online forums and you also ask your employees to let their Facebook friends know about it.

Welcome to social media hiring.

How does it work?

The basic idea behind social media hiring is simple: You take the job openings to where people are hanging around — social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

That makes huge sense when you digest the following statistic by Nielsen: Global consumers spent 82% more time on social media sites between December 2008 and December 2009.

In the first steps towards leveraging social media hiring, organisations are creating their own profile pages on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter; and recruiters are tapping their own private Facebook and LinkedIn networks to reach out to prospective candidates.

At a more advanced level, recruiters are paying companies like Jobvite to mine employees’ social networks.

Today, a software application can be added to employees’ Facebook pages. Once activated, it notifies employees of a new job opening.

And interestingly, it also comes up with a list of their friends who match the available job. The next step: Employee sends a referral in Facebook.

The friend who gets the referral applies for the job. And if hired, the application can track the employee who made the referral to offer a referral bonus.

Benefits of going social

Huge talent pool

Facebook has more than 400 million users, and more than 50% of them log in to the website on any given day.

The average Facebook user has 130 friends. Twitter reports 20 million visitors a month and 50 million tweets generated every day. LinkedIn has more than 60 million users (40 million in 2009). These numbers are swelling by the hour.

And it is not just about the numbers. It is also about the numbers cutting across cultural and geographic boundaries, presenting an entire breadth of talents.


According to an article in HR Wire, Kara Nickels, general manager of the Chicago office of legal recruitment firm Hudson Legal, sent a tweet about a job opportunity on her way to the office. Within 10 minutes, she had 12 responses from qualified candidates. It can be that fast!


Conventionally, companies have to pay significant sums for print advertisements or subscriptions to job boards or recruitment agencies. In contrast, social media hiring is low-cost and often free. That is a huge plus, especially for small businesses and start-ups.

The downside

Lack of diversity

While social networks take your reach across the globe, they still exclude whole sections of populations. According to Quantcast, a company that provides detailed audience online profiles, more than 80% of visitors on LinkedIn are Caucasians. Some experts say social media hiring lead to a lack of diversity in the workforce.

Documentation problems

Experts also point to a lack of proper documentation as one of the disadvantages, as digital formats are difficult to keep track of. Employers could land themselves with lawsuits for not observing recruitment procedures, especially in cases of government hiring.

Possibility of discrimination

Since social networks can reveal some of the personal information about job candidates, employers can be influenced by factors like race, religious views, age or other personal issues, thereby exposing themselves to the possibility of discrimination in hiring.

Companies should explore and discern the potential of social media hiring before jumping on the bandwagon. – Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

Article by Nicholas Goh, the managing director of Verztec Consulting. Extracted from Star Classifieds.