Social Recruitment: The Pros & Cons of Passive Candidates

Businesses need to have a social recruiting strategy to be competitive, because while it takes an average of 27 days to fill a role today, 67% of recruiters expect that number to increase. 94% of professional recruiters and 89% of companies are utilizing social media networks for talent acquisition and management. In fact, 59% of staff reports that the social presence of a company is a determining factor in their chosen employer.

How much can social media help? 80% of employers report that social recruiting helps them to find passive candidates, because as much as 75% of potential recruits aren’t actively searching for a new job.

Why does it matter? 48% of CEOs report that their companies have lost revenue due to inefficiencies in the recruitment process. 60% of employers are increasingly concerned with unfilled positions. With 14.4 million Americans utilizing social for job hunts, it makes sense to cast the net there. Interestingly, of those 14.4 million, 29% are only using social media to look for work.

However, there are report findings that conclude that active candidates are 70% more likely to succeed in a role than passive ones found through social recruitment, so companies need to screen carefully with the consideration that the negative ROI on a bad hire is a staggering 298% (or $840,000 based on a mid-level manager making $62,000 per annum).

Another consideration of this hot trend is the legal outlook for candidate research. Once a recruiter or human resources professional reviews a prospective or potential candidates social presence, courts would assume that professional knows so-called protected characteristics of that person’s identity (such as gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or age), and with good reason, too: Jobvite found that 1/3 of potential candidates are rejected for something they’ve posted or shared on social networks.

In cases where social is reviewed, legal experts advise employers to limit interview questioning to a pre-set range of questions applied to every applicant uniformly. David Baffa, a labor and employment partner at Seyfarth Shaw also recommends that employers who are reviewing social media of active candidates (rather than recruiting passive ones) wait until they have met the potential employees in person to prevent making snap judgments based on findings. Baffa advises clients to make the same search every time for every candidate at the same point in the process to prevent unfair treatment. He also recommends taking screenshots of questionable findings for documentation.

How do those practices apply to proactive social recruitment from people who are technically not applicants? Many lawyers like Baffa have explored this gray area, but there still isn’t a clear answer. The best practice is to avoid social networks that are more likely to share protected information, like Facebook or Twitter. Networks like LinkedIn are more likely to be professional in nature, and there’s a natural expectation that professionals will review one another’s profiles.

Social recruitment doesn’t stop at casual searches for passive employees: employers can also utilize social for employer branding, which can create brand advocates and eventual applicants. Also, encouraging employees to share information about the company to their networks can lead to referrals and interest in the brand: according to Monster, 65% of people would consider a job opportunity if the news reached them through a personal connection. For more information on employer branding, check out Internal Marketing & Employer Branding Insights & Best Practices.

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