Social networks for HR recruitment

Toddler wearing boss helmetMany employers run graduate recruitment programs as a long-term strategy to bring new ideas and fresh talent into an organisation while reducing the average labour cost of their employees. The HR deparment will run their graduate recruitment program to hire people to meet the future skill needs of the business as well as to develop future leaders of the organisation.

While recruitment strategy applies to all hiring activities, the graduate program has some unique qualities. Most graduates are from a younger demographic of the population, people who are digital natives, people who are checking facebook when they wake up (many before they get out of bed!). Let’s consider the reach of a social network platform like Facebook, the average user has 190 friends, with most friends just a short distance away and mostly around the same age. Connecting to a potential graduate employee through facebook is an opportunity to reach a larger number of other potential employees who are prequalified by location and demographic.

Graduate recruitment programs need to build a strong pipeline of potential candidates with the skills and aptitude that match the demand within their organisation. Social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, can play a strategic role in meeting this objective.

That’s not to say this strategy is without it’s challenges:

  • Recruitment involves personal information about candidates as well as confidential information about organisations and not everyone wants to announce to the world that they applied for a role but were unsuccessful.
  • Organisations with a brand presence on social networking platforms can face the prospect of an unhappy customer venting their disatisfaction on a Facebook page or Twitter topic intended for recruitment and not customer service.
  • HR departments may not have the expertise or the time to dedicate to a strong social network presence that involves constant monitoring, updating and engagement in conversations.

It’s important that any recruitment strategy involving social media is developed with these challenges in mind. There are two important pieces to such a strategy.:

  • Organisations need to take a decentralised approach that makes the most of their active and expert social network users; these may be managers, HR advisors, graduate employees and basically anyone working in the company.
  • Employees engaging with potential candidates through social media need training, support as well as clear expectations and guidelines.

Let’s take a closer look at how this strategy might be implemented:

Social Media Policy and Training

The social media policy will provide clear expectations and illustrative examples on appropriate behaviour for employees engaging in social media networks on work-related topics. This may include the expectation that they should identify themselves as an employee but not as an authorised representative, it may also set the expectation that they can always engage the HR department for an ‘official statement’ when the need arises.

HR Advisors who are authorised representatives of the company, such as the employees updating the Careers Facebook page, will be trained in best practices for working with social media with support from the marketing (or other delegated) department.

Facebook Careers Page

Current graduates will rotate the role of Facebook Careers ‘Guru’ during their time in the graduate program. This is a responsibility that would be shared between 3 or 4 graduates who will work with HR advisors on engaging in conversation and the wider community while also providing the opportunity to develop their communication and networking skills.

The Careers page on Facebook will have a clear goal to provide education and support to prospective graduates who may or may not become employees of the organisation: the goal is to connect to the community of job-seekers and contribute to the body information available to candidates who may be starting out on their careers.

Assessment Centre #hashtag

During the recruitment process, hiring managers and graduates attending the assessment centre might be encouraged to microblog, either externally through twitter or interally through yammer, using a provided hashtag. This will provide immediate feedback to the HR team as well as provide an opportunity for current graduates to provide support to the candidates who are confronted by an unknown process in a strange environment.


Employees who are active on Linkedin will be encouraged to post information about the graduate program to their network or engage in discussions about the opportunities.

There are a wealth of opportunities for graduate programs to connect with potential candidates in a new way through social media. There are new opportunities, new skills to learn a well as minefields to navigate. I’ve thought about a few ways to connect through social media but I’m sure there are many more … any suggestions?


12 thoughts on “Social networks for HR recruitment

  1. Hey Amanda,

    nice post and interesting ideas! Love the idea to make use of employees private clout to promote the company. However, I think the success of such a measure would be very different from company to company… If you love the place you work for than it’s a great idea and I think it will actually happen without the company needing to endorse it. If you hate the place… yeah it’s probably not gonna work out 😉
    So for me the biggest benefit of social networking in this context would be the wealth of information that the company could harvest to improve the way they do business, not only operational but also on a cultural level. It might sound creepy but if the company tries to monitor what employees say about them they can really learn a lot. And not to get me wrong, I don’t want any company to spy on its employees but rather to engage with them on a personal level to make it a place where you want to come to work. But I would agree that It’s a close call between creepy and awesome use of social networks. Hope this makes sense 🙂

    Cheers, Alex!
    P.S. I always loved your comments on my posts, so I wouldn’t mind another one 😉

  2. Hi Amanda.
    Good post. I would add to challenge list the necessity that companies have to map the brand in social media, even though the company has no digital presence. For example, a company can offer some service or product, and that company has no digital presence. However, the customers will be still talking about that brand and sharing their experience about the service/product. Therefore, if the company is totally unaware about those comments within social network, they will not know if the people are happy or not with a service/product.
    Tools like and are excellent to start a initial social media mapping.


    • Yes that’s very true and I think that would be a good approach. However, in the case of this particular company they already have a strong brand presence on social media with very comprehensive monitoring including sentiment analysis. In a more general case then yes, those tools are a really good idea for a company that doesn’t yet have a social media presence or strategy.

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  4. Great post Amanda!! I think this is a fantastic strategy and aligns really well with the graduate recruitment programme you discuss. I think you have covered the various platform and policy areas very well. Would you direct other advertisements to the Facebook page? I.e. if the ad is placed on would you also encourage applicants to look at the Facebook page? This could be a good way to get people interested and would also give the impression that the organisation is contemporary and embraces Gen Y etc. What are your thoughts?

    Cheers, Ben

    • Thanks for the suggestion. That’s a really good idea, a wholistic approach could cross-reference the different channels. I think this go a step furthe r and hiring managers (who are working on recruitment with hr’s support) can be ‘fed’ a readymade tweet or linkedin post thatnthey can post as-is or modify as they wish. The reach would be much wider with little additional effort.

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  6. Social medias connect to a lot more people than the people you know in real life. It is a good opportunity to be a part of this community to be connect to future employers or future employees. Social medias are indeed a great channel for HR department to find promising person for a job. They can also find many information related to those future employees. In this way they get to know a lot of information that s simple interview cannot give. Some people also weak in their interview but they might be an excellent worker which is someone that HR want for the company.


    Prapat W.

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  9. Hi Amanda,
    I especially believe LinkedIn is a social network that should be prioritized when implementing the strategy. The fact that users can add their skills to the profile and ask to be introduced to second order contacts opens up for even more potential candidates. That being said, clear guidelines and training needs to be given on what are appropriate ways to use those social networks in a work context.

  10. Hi Amanda

    I totally agree on the fact that resources in term of (Experts, time, ect) are essential for a strong social network presence. But this challenge is always there when organizations adopt any system..Right.

    I know you probably say Social Media tools and ROI and the need to justify that to management. But if the United Airline Incident as Jason said has hinder the airline by 30% drop in sales, Why don’t the same calculation be used to measure the positive impact!! We should pass this ROI issue …
    As Erik Qualman described ‘We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the Question is how well we Do it’

    All the best

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