Best Places to Work

Recruiting in the Age of Social Media

If you want to find truly the best candidates, it’s time to change tactics.

By Lonna Dawson November 3, 2015 Published in the November 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Image: Sam Island

Once upon a time, Houstonian Tirsza Elder decided it was time to find a new job. Believing job-posting websites like were her best bet, she logged on and scoured the openings. “It was tedious, the amount of information you had to enter before even beginning a search,” the tech professional says. “It would take 35 to 40 minutes to complete.” And that was time totally squandered, because Elder’s search was a bust.

So Elder decided to change tactics and look for a new job using LinkedIn, the business-oriented social network that she’d already adopted for professional networking. Some months later, she got a brand-new job at G&A Partners, a local human resources organization.

A recent Society of Human Resources study showed a whopping 65 percent of companies surveyed had found their newest hires using social media, with LinkedIn as the most prevalent source, although no social network is off limits these days. Recruiters are also known to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even dating app Tinder to find potential employees. “If you’re waiting for job seekers to find you, as an employer, you’re too late,” says Mitch Beckman, president of HR Houston, a local affiliate of the Society of Human Resources Management. 

Professionals looking for opportunities, meanwhile, use social media to get noticed. Shannon Pritchett, social media manager at ManpowerGroup, a global staffing agency, recommends that job seekers use Twitter to express interest in a company and let recruiters know they’re in the market. “It’s always a nice compliment when I notice anyone in an industry that I’ve recruited starts following me via Twitter,” she says. 

Pritchett says she sources 90 percent of the candidates she places using social media, yet still employs a staff of six recruiters who read up to 100 resumes daily. While many companies still rely on keywords to sift through the hundreds of resumes they receive, Pritchett says, “it’s a terrible automation that unfortunately misses out on a lot of great people.” 

Of course, candidates who use social media in their job searches should be prepared for scrutiny. Recruiters are looking for hires who speak the company’s language, which includes the types of stories they post to Facebook, whom they follow on Twitter, and whether they convey the general sense that they’re immersed in their fields. There’s even software, like Gild or TalentBin, that can aggregate a person’s social media profile and public information to present employers with a snapshot of a potential employee. That’s status updates, photos, likes and shares, all thrown into an algorithm and interpreted using data science. 

“We’re looking at your social media presence,” says Pritchett, “more than your actual resume.”

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