Pros and Cons of Recruiting Via Social Channels

Ann All

Back in July, I wrote two stories and a blog post about Twitter's rapidly growing popularity as a recruitment tool. The Wall Street Journal covers a lot of the same ground in a story published earlier this month. I am linking to it here because I think the points are worth reiterating, given that interest in recruiting candidates via Twitter and other socal channels shows no signs of abating.


According to the article, among Twitter's strengths as a recruitment tool:

  • It's far less expensive than job boards, even if you use a third-party Twitter job listing service like TweetMyJobs.
  • It doesn't yield an overwhelming number of candidates, as is often the case with job boards.
  • It attracts candidates with social media skills. (This is especially important for jobs that demand such skills, such as Best Buy's manager of emerging media marketing.)
  • It helps companies position their brands in a way that's not generally possible on job boards.
  • Recruiters can interact with candidates before they come in for interviews.


Still, Twitter isn't without risks. One alluded to in the article is that Twitter can expose recruiters to personal information about candidates. As IT Business Edge's Lora Bentley wrote, this could lead to discrimination lawsuits if employers allow information about the applicant's age, race, family planning, religion or any other protected status to improperly influence hiring decisions. She followed up with a post in which she encouraged employers to avoid such issues by following established hiring criteria and documenting everything.


Lack of documentation for recruiters using Twitter and other social channels is a problem, stresses a Workforce Management article. Said Paul Mollica, a partner at Meites, Mulder, Mollica & Glink in Chicago:



When the OFCCP [Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs] or plaintiffs' attorneys come along with a discovery request and want to see the trail for recruiting, these employers are going to come up short. The problem they will have created is that the data and the paper will not be there, and they will only have evidence in digital form on smartphones and flash drives. How will they pull it together? Employers will be left throwing up their hands. Worse yet, when the EEOC comes knocking to investigate a complaint, the records are in a digital mist, and that could be a terrible problem. It's risky because the records aren't there.


Relying too heavily on recruitment via social channels can also create problems if companies allow it to interfere with diversity initiatives. As another attorney interviewed in the article points out, demographic characteristics of many social networks skew white and young.

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Sep 30, 2009 2:31 AM Steffi Kaizun Steffi Kaizun  says:

Of course, the other obvious drawback to using social e-boards instead of job e-boards is that the listed jobs could be phony (trolls, ne'er-do-wells, pranksters, etc), as could the prospective candidates' resumes (i.e., how do you know they didn't copy it from someone else on the web?). Regardless, give NOTHING but your name, e-mail address, and resume with no additional contact info on it; if they ask for your SSN, don't even bother to respond: nobody needs to see your SSN until AFTER you've had a face-to-face interview and/or a phone interview with the principal, and very well-known company, with a provable phone number (i.e., a web search finds it on that well-known company's website, or it shows a real person and home or business address on more than one legitimate white or yellow pages website, not their own, which, obviously, could be phony); if they insist that it's for a credit/criminal background search, nobody is going to spend the time or money doing such until the prospective client gives the green light; I haven't lost a single interview, because I declined to give such info, and it's very scary if you do so, then never hear from the agency or company!). And, given the article's statement concerning "social skills" and "overwhelming number of candidates", why in the world would a company want to limit its job requisitions to such, and, unless its a job requiring personal skills (even CEO's don't have to be personnable!), such as in the medical or travel or real estate businesses, much less want to reduce the number of potential applicants? Both sides of the interview table should stick with job search websites.


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