2 Secrets of Successful “Social Recruiting” Explained

Every day, somewhere out there in our universe, many Recruiters are losing their way in regards to using social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for recruiting purposes. I see the complaints (often ironically aired via Twitter) that <insert favorite social network name> simply doesn't work for recruiting and is only a waste of time. These rants are typically followed by statements extolling the virtues of the telephone – and how "real" Recruiters know how to magically work this ancient device. And I sigh.


And I continue to think that they're not willing to evolve and learn how to use these tools successfully. 


Recently, I came across two great examples that explain how I believe Recruiters should approach social networks for recruiting purposes. The first is from Amber Naslund, who writes the consistently informative Altitude Branding blog. In her post – How I Made $100k With Twitter – Amber shares 8 steps she took to make money using Twitter to build relationships and market her services. Be sure to check out the full post here.

In the excerpt below, I've taken the liberty of inserting recruiting-related terms to illustrate how I think the method Amber outlined is exactly the way to approach using Twitter (and other social networks) for recruiting.

The magic in making money <recruiting> with social media isn’t that the site or
social network becomes a revenue center <candidate database> itself. I didn’t sell stuff <"recruit"> on
Twitter. I gave people access to me and my expertise, and paid
attention to when the time might be right to talk business
<about opportunities at my company>.

That’s the trick here, folks. Social media is rarely the cash
register <candidate Fairy>. It’s communication tools that help form the foundation for
healthy business relationships that might eventually lead to sales
<successful placements> elsewhere. Whether you’re B2B or B2C.

Twitter was just the handshake that got the conversation started. It
required an investment of time and effort for me to spend time there
and converse
without the intent to sell something <recruit anyone>, and lay
the groundwork for trust and relationships. Much like having lunch or
going to networking events. I spent time getting to know the people
that might eventually be the decision maker for a project that I could
be hired for <the potential clients or perfect candidates for positions I'm recruiting for>. And when they needed something like what I did, they
often thought of me.

It’s that simple, and yet that complex.

Nailed it. To me, that's one of the simplest and best explanations that I've seen regarding how relationships are developed, business connections are made and successful recruiting is done via social media.


Second, Andy Headworth of one of my favorite recruiting blogs – Sirona Says – interviewed Super Sourcer/Recruiting Trainer/Social Media Whiz Kid Jim Stroud at the recent TruLondon Unconference asking – "Where will social media recruitment be in 2 years?" Jim didn't disappoint, giving an interesting and insightful answer. (Email subscribers will need to click through to the blog to view the video)

Hint: It's not about being able to find more people folks.


I think we've got to get more people thinking differently about how to use social networks for recruiting purposes. It's more about relationships and branding and less about having a large network or being able to find names.

What do you think? Do you think investing the time to build relationships and to establish a "personal brand" on social networks is required to successfully recruit? Or is the "old way" still the best way?

President & Chief Talent Strategist

Jennifer McClure is a Keynote Speaker, Talent Strategies Expert and Executive Coach who works with clients and companies in the areas of leadership development, communication and talent strategy. Jennifer McClure offers keynotes, workshops and training that inspire and empower business leaders to be more effective in their careers and as leaders of their organization’s most valuable resource – people.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

12 thoughts on “2 Secrets of Successful “Social Recruiting” Explained

  1. Great post. Being successful with social recruiting tools is a long-term play. Its exciting because it allows recruiters to get back to the fundamentals of building relationships and diligencing prospective candidates. I can’t wait to see this potential increasingly realized by savvy recruiters.
    –Omowale Casselle

  2. Very well stated. Many professionals do not see an immediate return on their social media investment and use that as an excuse to not flush out the possibilities of using these tools for furthering their objectives. I would encourage professionals to think of social media as a means to brand themselves within their areas of expertise and to help others. That seems to resonate with social media users, and will get more introductions than constant hitting people in the head with sales talk.

  3. Your post is not only great – it’s relevant !! Too many people are approaching social media as a “silver bullet” to do their job vs. differentiating themselves so that they become a “candidate magnet” and people flock to the recruiter and their company.
    Building a personal brand goes without saying. What people don’t grasp is that they have a personal brand whether it’s “visible” or not. Those recruiters and HR folks who continue to avoid the various social media forums are branding themselves as people who aren’t current. People who are “me, me, me” on social media are branding themselves as well !!
    This was a compelling post and I hope recruiters and HR pros alike reflect on this and see the advantages of social media, not the pitfalls.

  4. I fully agree with your article – recruitment is a people-business. In today’s talent market, people look to build relationships and spend time getting to know You (You as Recruiter, You as Representative of an Organization …). Investing time in building your brand/relationships/listening and then adding value via social and professional networks can bring great returns.

  5. Great post – imagine if the headhunters 10 or 15 years ago said ‘this email thing is a fad – ‘real’ recruiters use phones? ‘Real’ recruiters understand needs, build relationships and solve problems… using the tools available. Great post! THANK YOU!

  6. This is a great post Jennifer. I couldn’t agree more and I think it applies across the board, not just in recruiting. I know whenever I need a designer or copy writer, some of the first people I think of are the people I have developed real relationships with in the social media space.

  7. Jennifer-
    Thank you for your presentation at the Cincinnati Women’s Bloggers group on Saturday. I can not believe how much time setting up google reader is saving me!
    I appreciate all of your sage advice about social media. Balancing the business benefits of social media within the time constraints of daily life is truely cahllenging.
    You may like David Risley’s blog post today about the 80/20 rule and social media. http://www.davidrisley.com/

  8. @Omowale – Building relationships is often something overlooked by recruiters. You’re either a candidate for my job – or not. “Social recruiting” won’t allow for that. I’m excited to see the possibilities too!
    @Tom – Totally! Using social media to establish a “brand” definitely assists with being able to reach out to people versus spamming them with job openings only.
    @Steve – Love it! “recruiters and HR folks who continue to avoid social media are branding themselves as not current”. I couldn’t agree more.
    @Benjamin – Comments that disappear are my favorite. Thanks for stopping by and commenting – twice. 🙂
    @Jfrenchvitet – I’ve seen very positive returns and have built some great relationships using social media. It definitely works!
    @Lisa – Best quote of the day from you! “Real recruiters… using the tools available.” Awesome.
    @Shannan – Definitely! Social media has allowed me to build relationships and do business with a number of people outside the recruiting/hr space. It’s just one more form of networking and business development.
    @Lisa – Thanks for sharing the post from David Risley – and thanks for stopping by!

  9. Good morning JJ! I’ll step forward as one of the “old way” guys just to spice up this love fest. (I hope there are more of “us” out here – but I know I’m one of the nay sayers you speak of) 🙂
    Your (well-written) article unfortunately takes one liberty in particular that really does slant the entire theme. The subject, Amber, is in no way related to the recruiting world. Her work is, in fact “client engagement, community building, and helping companies build sound strategies for social media listening, measurement, and engagement.” You can’t just “substitute” any business/industry in this case. Sorry.
    If that (social media listening) were my professsion – OF COURSE I would want to focus my marketing efforts in the SM space. That just makes perfect sense.
    For the record I’ll clarify my position. Linkedin is a fantastic tool for recruiting. Facebook – I’m still not so sure. I like to think of it as more the place to connect with friends – than force my personal business on them there – just as I don’t recruit in most social events. It’s just tacky – and bugs people.
    But Twitter? Still not seeing it. I follow quite a few non-HR folks as well – but they don’t tweet. Since they don’t tweet – I’m pretty much assuming they just aren’t hanging out on Twitter much at all.
    Like I’ve said before – I placed someone I met at Church one time – but that certainly doesn’t qualify church as THE place to recruit.

  10. @Jerry – What? Me refer to you in a anti-social recruiting post? Never. 🙂 It’s no surprise that I disagree with you here. I think that Amber’s points definitely apply to recruiting. What she describes in her post is how she developed business/obtained clients – i.e. sales. Recruiting is a sales function right? Whether it’s getting new clients or selling candidates on a potential new role. Use the tactics Amber described and it works in recruiting/business development too.
    As we’ve “discussed” on Twitter before, I do get business and make valuable contacts on Twitter. I’ve gotten and given recruiting referrals and have connected with a number of candidates. It works for me – and for others too. It doesn’t work for you. That’s ok and may be a function of both how you’re using it as well as they types of industries/professions you recruit in.
    As for recruiting in church? I got my first job by connecting with an HR Manager in my church who was recruiting for her replacement. So the fact that you and I both have successful recruiting experiences at church may not make church THE place to recruit, but it does make it A place to recruit. Because there are people there. Just like on Twitter. Good recruiters are always looking for talent – and since you’re a good recruiter – you know that too.

  11. You should watch the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” to get a better feel for social networking. Actually, don’t see it. It’s a stupid movie, but there’s some great one-liners in there about the good and bad of social networking.
    Like was echoed above, it is not a silver bullet and it takes time. But once you get a tweet that goes viral or a solid network on Facebook (or Twitter for that matter), you will not only be better connected, but you will increase the chances of it paying off.

Comments are closed.