11.4 How Recruiters Use Social Media

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand social media and the job search from the recruiters’ perspective.
  2. Tailor your job search by using your knowledge of how recruiters use social media.

The Job Search Process from the Hiring Perspective

We covered the six steps of the job search process from the job seeker’s perspective. On the other side of the equation, however, the organization that needs to hire has its own process. Social media is helpful to the employer (and therefore to you) at each step the employer takes:

  • Identify the need.
  • Kick off the search.
  • Invite candidates for interviews.
  • Select candidates for final rounds.
  • Extend and negotiate an offer.

Use Social Media to Identify Needs Early and Tap the Hidden Job Market

Initially, the employer must recognize there is a need. This occurs before the search can begin, and this is where the hidden job marketThe market of unadvertised jobs, or jobs that get filled before they are ever posted or shared with the public. (the market of unadvertised jobs) flourishes. If you are following organizations online and watching for breaking news, new employee arrivals, and employee departures, then you might also see a potential need. You might be able to tap the hidden job before it becomes public.

Jennifer Sobel is a Recruitment Manager at Disney ABC Television Group:

Many job seekers are desperately trying to use social networking tools to search for jobs, which is a great idea. However, they are using the tools all wrong. I must get ten to fifteen “LinkedIn” requests per day from people searching for a job at my company. Their requests usually sound something like this “Hi, I don’t know you but would love to work at Disney ABC Television Group. Are there any openings for me?”…I would urge each job seeker to only reach out when they have identified an open position that they meet the minimum qualifications for.…Not having your research done beforehand comes off as lazy and it doesn’t give a recruiter any reason to help you.

Use Social Media to Help Recruiters Find You When They Start the Search

When the search kicks off, an organization’s recruiter needs a way to collect suitable résumés. The recruiter may post the ad to the organization’s website, he or she may use social media to promote the opening, an external recruiting agency may be called, or external job boards may be used. Recruiters also actively try to find candidates, and many recruiters use social media sites because they are readily searchable to find suitable matches.

Regina Angeles is CEO of Talent2050, an executive search firm that provides multicultural recruiting solutions for online and traditional media companies:

Candidates should invest time in building a robust online profile, especially on LinkedIn. Third-party and corporate recruiters continue to rely on LinkedIn as a sourcing and referencing tool. Make sure your profile contains keywords that will make you searchable.

Most recruiters also have an existing candidate database that they tap when news of an opening breaks. If you are active in social media and if you are already in the organization’s sights—perhaps by having interacted online—you might leap to the top of their existing candidate database.

This also means, of course, that recruiters can find negative information about you. Do an Internet search on yourself before you start your job search. Look at what employers will see. You might be unknowingly tagged in someone else’s photos or mentioned in someone else’s profile. You might have hastily written an angry comment or shared something overly personal. Even if the content is appropriate, you might have hastily typed something with mistakes and spelling errors, and it looks sloppy. We cover online profile repairs in the next section on managing your online brand; however, be aware that recruiters will research you, so be proactive so you know what they will find.

Use Social Media to Make Your Qualifications Stand Out during Interview Selection

Recruiters often skim résumés because they have so much volume. If you are an unsolicited candidate and this is the only time recruiters see your profile, then you have just a few seconds to make an impression. If you have been active in social media, however, mentions of you exist outside the résumé. You might have a portfolio online, and although a recruiter might be turned off by a multipage résumé, an online profile that is interactive and easy to click through does not feel as cumbersome.

Use Social Media to Prepare for Interviews

Social media is great for identifying trends and breaking news. Subscribe to blog posts and Twitter feeds in the days leading up to your interview to ensure you are current. Dig deeply into an organization’s employee profile by looking at the online profiles of people who work there, and prepare highlights of your own experience to match existing hiring patterns. Look at the way the organization promotes itself online—this is what they want you to know, so this is what you should reflect in your discussions about the organization.

Use Social Media to Be a Worthy Negotiating Adversary

Organizations respect you when you are a good negotiator. If you ask for what is customary for your target market, employers will know that you are savvy in your field. Social media is great for gathering data, and its interactivity and ability to finely search by a mix of keywords mean that you can use social media to get nuanced data. Take advantage of this because employers expect you to negotiate, and your ability to negotiate well is a reflection on you as a candidate.

Key Takeaways

  • Employers take different steps during the job search process and use social media at all stages.
  • Understanding how employers will use social media enables you to plan your job search activity accordingly.


  1. Now that you are aware of how recruiters use social media, what will you do differently?
  2. If you know a recruiter, ask him or her to review your social media profile(s). See if they get a clear sense of your interests and what industry and function you are targeting. See if they think your online profile showcases you in the best light.