Does social media hurt or help your recruitment efforts?

In order for social media to serve as an effective recruitment tool, HR must develop a digital-marketing strategy and positive candidate experience.

“If you have a reasonable, frictionless candidate experience, then social media becomes a viable way to reach people,” says Ira Wolfe, president and chief googlization officer at Success Performance Solutions, a national HR-consulting firm. “Social media is an extraordinary [recruitment] opportunity. It’s word of mouth on steroids.”

But not all HR professionals experience good results. According to a national survey of more than 500 HR professionals by Clutch–a B2B ratings and reviews platform–nearly one out of four (24%) ranked social media as their least favorite recruiting strategy, ahead of passive recruiting (17%) and university career fairs (13%).

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Besides, not all platforms are alike, adds Wolfe, the author of Recruiting in the Age of Googlization, which addresses recruitment strategies in a fast-changing world; he’s giving away the first 500 copies for free (excluding postage).

Recruiters need to identify which ones attract their target audiences and then figure out the purpose, tone and feel of their messaging. Wolfe says where you post information–even job ads–should never be arbitrary. As an example, he says, Instagram or Pinterest can be very helpful when recruiting retail or hospitality workers but not necessarily highly skilled professionals.

Related: Stop spying on social media

Yet, despite recruiters’ best efforts, candidates can still slip away, says Wolfe, pointing to a career page that turns them off or a difficult application process. Based on his own research with new clients, he says, the abandonment rate on career sites averages 50% but can even soar to 90%. Make sure your site tells a compelling story that explains why candidates may want to work for your organization versus simply describing job responsibilities, he cautions.

Likewise, pay attention to language. If you want to attract more women to a male-dominated field, write the job ad and promotional materials from a female voice.

“If you’re going after a more diverse demographic, the language needs to express the needs of that gender, ethnicity or race,” Wolfe adds. “Tell a story that fits into their life, not yours.”

Carol Patton
Carol Patton is a contributing editor for HRE who also writes HR articles and columns for business and education magazines. She can be reached at