Thursday, December 2, 2010

What is the best way to find a new employee?

(Posted by Michelle Livengood, Batu Oncul, Derek Lyon, Melissa Spencer, Michael Connolly)

A few years ago, the answer may have been to post your job description on one of the big online boards--Monster, CareerBuilder, or HotJobs--but more and more, the answer is to turn to networking and the ever-increasing number of social media solutions for finding the right employees.

Many of the major online job boards are moving more and more towards using social media as part of the job search experience that they are trying to sell. Monster has its Social Recruiting Solution, CareerBuilder has its Social Media Brand Management tool. Monster recently acquired Yahoo! HotJobs in an effort to reach even more job seekers.

But when the major job boards are charging hundreds of dollars to employers to post a job description versus the much cheaper (and increasingly more visited!) posting options on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Craigslist can the giants of the job-board world keep their prices so high? Or are announcements of job openings, like so many other digital information artifacts, trending towards free?

Does the prevalence of social media channels put more of the onus on the job seeker to get out there and push their information , instead of waiting for the right job to find them?

Research shows that usage of social media for job searches will increase in the near-term, grabbing significant market share specifically from online job search websites. Some traditional recruiting channels, such as local posts and headhunters, will be less affected by recent social media trends.

Many recruiters say that they are moving away from websites such as Monster and Dice, because it is becoming more and more difficult to find good people at a good price. Many recruiters report that they are now using LinkedIn to find ‘real’ people within their network, for free. Especially for small firms, research shows that 60-70% of new hires are partially or fully driven by social networks. 62% of recruiters say that social networks are either significant or primary way of direct sourcing.

Some implications of this shift from traditional hiring sources to social networking is that job boards will need to change their business model or they will be forced out by social media avenues and recruiting through social media will continue to increase.


  1. Totally agree that recruiters would likely get a better return on their investment (higher quality candidates for cheaper) by utilizing their professional social network on LinkedIn than by posting descriptions to Monster. This is especially true when you need to recruit talent that is currently employed and probably not on these job boards looking for openings. Some of the best people may be at jobs which they find OK and pretty comfortable, but may be open to exploring other opportunities if recruiters could only reach them.

    Also, job boards make targeting and personalizing job descriptions very hard. With recruiting posts on networks liked LinkedIn, job posters can specify very fine-grained criteria to reach a very targeted audience of extremely qualified leads.

    But it should be noted that job boards may still outperform LinkedIn ads in less tech-savvy industries where employees are less likely to actively maintain an online social presence. If you're a recruiter and that's who you want to reach, you may have no choice but to continue placing job boards ads for those jobs.

  2. While social networking is changing the way recruiting is done, job boards still remain a valuable source for recruiters. The fact is that recruiters get paid/evaluated based on the number of quality hires they bring in. If they find someone on LinkedIn who has a great background and will fit well with the organization, it may be a lot harder and time consuming to pull him/her away from their current job. People who are in fact looking for a job on LinkedIn may reach out to recruiters there but its not much different than on a job posting. With both, the resume is viewable but LinkedIn has the added bonus of showing the person's contacts. Again, it would be time-consuming to sift through a contact list and really rate how valuable the network would be to the company. At the end of the day, your hiring the person, not the people they know.

    People also hestitate to include recruiters in their network because it's well-known that their friends will get contacted, which may be annoying. So recruiters may be limited by their own network. And for executive recruiters, social media won't do much good since top management rarely put their information out on social network. Social networking can help, but it's more likely to be another tool rather than replace existing methods.

  3. The challenge with using social networks is that people within a network, tend to have similar characteristics. There's research to that effect by MIT MediaLab professor Sandy Pentland, for example. So if you're a Google engineer looking to hire an engineer, this is great. But what if you need to hire a dog walker, just for the argument's sake? Your social network may not deliver, which makes sites like Monster useful.

    The other challenge with using social networks for recruiting is that your entire organization needs to be focused on recruiting, not just the HR department. That's a best practice among the best of companies, but very rare among most companies. Recruiting takes time, and not all companies, let alone all professionals within a company, have it.

    So I think the jury is still out on whether social networking recruiting will supplant or simply complement transactional recruiting.

  4. Using the social network to find a job is a very popular tool long employed in the non-digital world. With the evolution of internet and online social networks users learned to make use of it in a new way. However, online social networks openly displays the user from various perspectives, which sometimes may play in its detriment.

    I'm inclined to consider that professional network should be kept separate from personal one, and Linkedin is a great instrument to be leveraged for that.

  5. Have you folks wondered why Google or Microsoft never went into job search? Google Jobs or Bing Jobs could be pretty interesting. With all the computing power that they have they can scrape and show every job on earth for you...