The shifting tide of social job recruiting

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on September 6, 2013

From The News Desk

While social media has become a common method for employers to seek out potential hirees, a new survey conducted by Jobvite, a social job recruiting platform, found that the tried-and-tested personal referral trumps Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest. What's more, the characteristics that employers look for, as well as the way they search for new employees, is shifting, and indicate a change in the culture of job seeking.

Nevertheless, don't discount social media as an HR utility. Jobvite's CEO Dan Finnigan explained to me that what social media does is put marketing and hiring in the same place. Instead of job-seekers having to search through job postings, potential employers are advertising in front of their very eyes. And this is supposedly helping build stronger application pools. According to the survey, which questioned 1,600 recruiting and human resource specialists around the country, 49 percent said that social recruiting improved the quality of candidates.

Finnigan also pointed to a new stratification in social media use. LinkedIn, it seems, is synonymous with job seeking -- after all, what's the use of hundreds of millions of people posting their CVs online if not for seeking new employment? Over the past few years, however, other social media platforms have crept up on LinkedIn. In 2011, 55 percent of employers used or intended on using Facebook as a means to post listings. Today it's up to 65 percent. Of course, LinkedIn isn't hurting: It still reigns supreme with 94 percent.

This points to a shifting tenor in what employers are looking for on social media profiles. Employers are vetting candidates through them. It's a common trope for career counselors and senior colleagues alike to warn about the public content we Millennials, who are taking over the workforce, post online. Take, for instance, the WalMart employee fired for posting anti-Muslim content on his Facebook page. You probably shouldn't do that. At the same time, Finnigan says companies seem "more tolerant" about stuff like this these days. Employers appear more perturbed by poor grammar or spelling on profiles than references to alcohol consumption, although references to guns are a no-no.

This may be indicative of a slightly improving job market. While the latest jobs report indicated that the job market may be losing some momentum, 169,000 jobs were added in August and the unemployment rate for college grads is only 3.5 percent. In addition, the overall unemployment rate dropped from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent in August. With this in mind, Finnigan didn't attribute any of these statistics to unemployment woes; in his eyes, the job market for those Jobvite represents seems to be doing just fine.

Perhaps the issue is that job seekers aren't necessarily looking for the coveted longterm, 401k-providing job that Americans have come to expect. Instead, as Finnigan puts it, they are "looking at jobs like grad schools." That is, new jobs are becoming possible ways to gain a few years of experience and then use it as momentum for the next venture. So companies are scrambling to find employees who will stay on for the long haul.

The most distinct change from all of this is the way people are looking at jobs and job finding sites. No longer is it helpful to have a barebones list of jobs, with the hopes that candidates will send in resumes. Instead, Finnigan says that job sites have to re-market themselves as a "compelling e-commerce site" to grasp what the survey would deem as the best and largest applicant pool.

I suppose this speaks to the millennial age of new graduates, who may spend more time on Facebook during their unpaid internship than on This may be why full-time job prospects for this age range are beginning to look bleak.

Either way, it's good to note that I can finally re-post that picture of me drinking a beer.

[Illustration by PandoDaily's Hallie Bateman]