Monthly Archives: April 2013

Using Social Media Platforms for Employment Referrals

There’s a lot of buzz these days about the various social media platforms and their effectiveness a job search/job placement tools. Many will agree that LinkedIn is one of the best for obtaining endorsements and recommendations from people in your network who are familiar with your expertise. Google Plus is highly rated as well; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are efficient or effective for generating referrals that lead to a job, contract, or career change.

There are three ways by which you enter the hiring process: as an external candidate, as a referral candidate, or as an internal candidate. In my experience (and the research confirms this), internal candidates generally enjoy the biggest advantage, followed closely by referral candidates, and then external candidates a distant third. Somewhere between 33 and 67 percent of jobs found and filled are through personal referrals. Through personal referrals, much of the uncertainty in the hiring process is reduced or eliminated altogether from the equation, which leads to a higher probability of getting a job offer (and more quickly). It is also a low-cost recruitment tool. You simply must be strategic in designing and building your professional networks to increase the probably of being referred for an open position.


A 2012 comprehensive study (222,000 job postings, 9.3 million applications, 147,440 interviews, and 94,155 hires) from SilkRoad ( provides some interesting conclusions about the effectiveness of recruiting:

  • External (specific job search engines, job boards, print advertising, job fairs) and internal (referrals, inside hires, walk-ins, company career sites) sources result in about the same number of interviews, although internal sources produce almost twice the number of hires.
  • Company career sites are the greatest online recruitment source based on interviews and hires.
  • Referrals remain the strongest base for internal recruitment marketing, followed by inside hires and company career sites.
  • Job search engines are singularly far more effective than job boards at returning both interviews and hires.

In a landmark study on social networks (with real people, not Facebook “friends”) and hiring conducted by Stanford University in 1996[1], researchers concluded the following:

  • Social networks favorably influence the composition of the pool of job candidates
  • Applicants referred by current employees are more likely to be interviewed and offered jobs than external non-referral candidates
  • Network referrals are advantaged at both the interview and job offer stages compared to external non-referral applicants

The researchers also determined why referral candidates had such an advantage over non-referral candidates:

  • During labor shortages, using referrals is a quick and inexpensive method for generating a pool of applicants (fewer applicants for every open position)
  • The “benefit of the doubt” effect that creates a tendency for recruiters to give referral candidates the benefit of the doubt during screening, which encourages employees to continue to recommend referrals, thereby creating a process closed to non-referral candidates
  • Social network hiring tends to produce better job description-worker matches than other types of recruitment

Technology and the rise of social network sites (SNS) has changed the face of employee recruiting. Research has revealed that corporate Facebook sites receive more hits than the corresponding company websites for job postings. While many companies are now integrating SNS with traditional recruitment practices (internal job postings, referrals from current employees), more are using job board sites (,

Employers also use SNS to screen candidates; in fact, use of SNS for such purposes increased to 37% in 2012 compared to 12% in 2006 according to a CareerBuilder survey.[2] In 2012, more hiring managers rejected candidates because of the variety of negative information discovered on SNS, with nearly 50% of survey respondents expressing concern about inappropriate photos or information about candidate drug and alcohol use, often conveyed in inappropriate photos.[3]

So, do employers use SNS in recruiting efforts? Yes; not necessarily to locate candidates, but to exclude candidates from further consideration because of the posting of questionable content or content that raises issues about a candidate’s character. Need I state the obvious that it is imperative that you scrub all social media content of questionable postings and images because if there’s a way to discover it, a hiring manager will find it and use it to eliminate you from consideration for a position. If it doesn’t present you in the most favorable professional light, remove it.

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has had success using social media platforms to either hire employees or to obtain a job.

[1] Fernandez, Roberto et al (2006). “Getting a Job: Networks and Hiring in a Retail Bank.” Stanford University. pp. 1-47.

[2] Grasz, J. (2012). CareerBuilder Survey from (4/18/2012)

[3] Ibid., Grasz.

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