It's Time to Tell Truth About Social Media as a Sourcing Tool

I remember, about four��years back, when certain individuals ��� normally ones who worked��for social media consultancies ��� were trumpeting social media as the next big thing in recruiting. In fact, it had gotten to the point where it wasn't even called "social media" anymore. It was just "social." Job boards were going to die because everyone would start sourcing through social.

Well, I've got some bad news: That just isn't happening for the vast majority of companies.

In fact, we at iKrut��have done some research on where job seekers actually find jobs, and according to our data, the overwhelming majority find them on job boards. A few find them through referrals and a few find them through social media sites, but job boards are king.

Now, our results aren't representative��of trends in the whole economy. Our users tend to be small and medium-sized employers. If we analyzed data from major corporate employers, the figures would almost certainly look better for social ��� particularly for referral-based postings.

But before we get ahead of ourselves,��let's define what we mean by "social media": basically, any tool used by an employer to distribute the details of a job vacancy free of charge where that media source is not explicitly a job board. The classic examples are posts on company and personal pages on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.

The argument put forward by the social brigade four years back ��� and still being put forward by some today �����is that companies could simply circulate jobs to employees, who would then circulate the jobs on their social media pages. The idea was that the jobs would be seen by thousands of connections and draw in talent that way.

The problem is, this just hasn't happened.

The Social Media Job Search��Is a Nightmare

We've been testing what the user experience is like for a job seeker on��Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn,��and it's pretty patchy at best.

On Facebook, the results are not good. If you go searching for a job, you'll find a lot of very old posts because there is no way to filter by date. You'll also find posts way outside of your area because, again, there is no way to filter by location. There's also no way to specifically search for job openings, so if you search for something like "marketing manager position," you'll find plenty of posts that aren't job��openings at all.

Twitter is marginally better because posts are ranked in chronological��order and there appear to be many more job listings. Still, it's a frustrating experience because there aren't any filters. You can't filter by location, you can't filter out staffing agency "jobs," you can't differentiate between permanent and contract jobs, etc.

LinkedIn ��� well, LinkedIn is not good. If you do a job search on LinkedIn, all the results will come from LinkedIn's paid job board listings. We couldn't find any free entries in the first four pages of results. So, LinkedIn is great if you want to pay, but don't expect much if you just share a job opening to your personal or corporate page. It's going to get drowned out by all those paid posts.

It's not hard to see why so many job seekers are still hanging out on job boards instead of social media platforms. The user experience for job seekers on social media is pretty bad.

Social Media Sourcing: Good for Corporate Giants, Not SMEs

Now, it's not all doom and gloom. If you're working with a big corporation, social media is a much more��powerful sourcing tool��for you. Why?

Well, it comes down to two main reasons. First, people are already familiar with the social presences of giants like Apple, Ford, Tesla, etc.��The social media presences of small companies that don't hire often? Not so much.

Second, the big corporate employers can reach many more eyeballs through their referral schemes. If Apple asks its marketing team to circulate a job post on each individual employee's social media pages, that's going to result in many more postings than the small company with 20 employees would have.


In��short, social media has been and will continue to be a good sourcing tool for big corporates, but it's not going to do much for smaller companies. That's not to say that social media can't play a part in your sourcing strategy at all.��It can, but you need to temper your expectations ��� especially if you work for an SME.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the job board's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Nick Leigh-Morgan is the managing director of iKrut.