Social Media referrals: building networks in the context of recruiting

The usefulness of social media in recruiting is now well established. However, there is still much to learn about the best way to make the most use of these tools for identifying and recruiting top talent. Faced with a proliferation of websites, many recruiters tend to be scattered rather than choosing a well planned method. The goal is not to be present on every website nor to be everywhere on a single website. To do the best for recruiting using social networks, activities must be well defined and use a targeted approach. So, how is this to be achieved? By going for Social Media referrals.

Social Media referrals means using people to refer a job offer to their social network. We could talk about social recruiting, but this terminology has been poorly used by many websites that in the end only offer to post your jobs on social networks. Social Media referring is a method that makes the most of the power of networking. It builds on the fact that a job offer relayed by a friend is more interesting to a candidate than if it came directly from an unrelated company.

The most recent study conducted by Jobvite (autumn 2011)[1] is very interesting, because it shows a significant difference in the use of social media by companies and by candidates in the context of recruiting. On the one hand, of the different social media, companies in particular favour LinkedIn for recruiting, with 87% of respondents saying that they use this website compared to 55% for Facebook and 47% for Twitter. On the other hand, candidates say that the websites that helped them the most the last time they had to find a job were, respectively, Facebook (78%), Twitter (42%) and LinkedIn (40%). At first glance, this seems inconsistent, but this is not actually so. For companies, Linkedin is actually the social media that best allows them to target candidates and question them. This can be done through Facebook or Twitter, but it is not as direct as Linkedin. For candidates, Facebook is the most effective website since in their case word of mouth is the best way to learn about available jobs. Facebook is therefore the most appropriate website for them.

More and more organizations are therefore seeking to use existing networks, those of their employees, fans or even customers, to target candidates and let them know about job opportunities. This principle is not new since it is what referrals are all about. These employees are asked to refer interesting candidates and, if hired, the person referring them will receive an incentive. However, with social media referrals are gaining a new force. Websites can now enable automated viral dissemination of job offers through existing networks. For example, the Quebec website Getheadhunters ( offers an interesting formula. Individuals are first selected for the scope and quality of their network in a specific field and they subsequently, as members of the Getheadhunters site, are paid each time they broadcast a job offer to their network (all being governed by very specific rules). By selecting this type of website, companies obtain broad distribution but in highly targeted networks. In Europe, the company offers a similar method, except that the publisher is compensated for each relevant candidate that applies for the position relayed to him.

As an individual, your network, if it is extensive and homogenous, therefore has significant value. It allows companies to reach the candidates they are looking for quickly and with focus. The same phenomenon is seen for recruiters when it comes time to change jobs. During a selection interview for a job as a recruiter, it is becoming common to ask candidates if they have an extensive network of LinkedIn contacts, ideally in a specific field. For staffing professionals, the extent and scope of social networks and professionals that they have built has a value in the eyes of their future employer and becomes an additional argument to promote their candidacy.

Social referrals is therefore a cornerstone of your recruiting strategy on social media. It is certainly necessary to make job opportunities known but it is also necessary to ensure that the candidates targeted become aware about opportunities offered to them.

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