Turning Pitfalls Into Potential: Social media And Recruitment

Turning pitfalls into potential – social media and recruitment

With over a billion people connected to social networking sites, social media has huge potential for all aspects of business. As of January this year, 77% of Fortune 500 companies had an official social team and presence, but not all are tapping into the potential to use this for recruitment.

So how can we tap into this powerful force for recruitment? What are the possible pitfalls, and how can we avoid them?


Using social media is a great way to establish your brand presence and so draw in the right kind of recruits. You can use it to project a vision of your company that will attract top employees, to build both public awareness and credibility for your company. An organization that is both present and responsive on social media is one that seems forward looking, sincere and open to dialogue, making it attractive to recruits.

But your use of social media in recruitment can be about more than this. The best companies are using it to reach out and actively seek the candidates they want, rather than relying on them to stumble across job adverts. Potential employees put so much information out through social media that you are now in a position to hunt them out, to find the best candidates out there instead of just the best candidates who are approaching you. You can see what talents they apply in real life, rather than what skills they can exhibit in an interview environment.


Obsessing over your public image is one of the biggest dangers inherent in engaging with social media, and this is as true for organizations as it is for individuals.

It is good to put effort into social media engagement as long as it clearly adds value for the organization, but just saying ‘it makes us look good’ is not enough, especially for activities supposedly focused on recruitment. It can become a black hole into which time and effort disappear, and even alienate people as they see you trying to hog the spotlight.

The other big risk in using social media for recruitment is that you may contradict, and so undermine, the work others in the organization are doing on the same platforms. Consistency is vital to public image, and social media can spread inconsistent messages like some terrible disease.


One of the main tools in avoiding these pitfalls, as with so many others, is through measuring. The impact of recruitment through social media should be measured and performance managed like anything else, with clear standards for success and for wasted effort.

Having someone in overall charge of social media is also important. This way you know that efforts will be consistent and organized, and you can avoid duplication as well as contradiction.

But to get the most out of social media, to achieve that incredible potential for outreach, this needs to be a matter of coordination and leadership rather than command and control. Rather than discouraging employees from using social media as part of their work, or trying to dictate how they do it, train them in the best use of social media. Turn them into advocates for your business who will spread word of your latest opportunities and identify potential recruits for you.


Good use of social media is about ‘enabling the few to mobilize the many’, to quote Clara Shih. This means making the most of the fluid, enabling nature of social media, with its focus on recommendations and peer-to-peer engagement. By using your whole network of employees to seek out recruits, and using the information about candidates freely available on social media, you can find and evaluate real talent, rather than just people who give good interview.

And that can only be a good thing.

Apply Now(About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm. He has 20 plus years of C-Level experience across multiple sectors including healthcare, education, government, and people and potential (aka HR). In addition, Mark currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Behavioral Health Service North, a large behavioral health services provider in New York. He also actively serves on the faculty of the State University of New York (SUNY) and teaches in the School of Business and Economics; Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship and the Department of Management, International Business and Information Systems. Mark holds an MBA and is highly recognized in the technology and healthcare space with credentials including MCSE and Paramedic. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity. Mark resides in New York with his wife Lynn, two children, and two Labradors. The greatest pursuit; “To be more in the Service of Others.”)

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