This social recruitment thing just isn’t working…

The way we define social recruiting reminds me of something we discussed in history class back in Poland when we covered the communist period. It may not translate into English very well so bear with me.

The idea was that there are some words that you can use in combination with others that when used in conjunction with others not only alter, but in fact change their meaning to the complete opposite. This is more of a joke really, but let me just demonstrate how it would work. If you know anything about the communist regime in Poland, you will know that it had nothing to do with the form of government we know as a “republic”. And yet the name of the state at that time was the “Polish People’s Republic”. Conclusion? If you add the word “People’s” to another word, it changes meaning completely. At the same time, the communists still got to use the word “republic”, which worked great for keeping up appearances on an international level. Obviously this became one of their favourite tricks, they would use it as often as possible, introducing the notions of “people’s justice” (not to be confused with actual justice…) and so on, which worked wonderfully for spreading the communist propaganda.

This mechanism also works when it comes to the use of the word social. When we add another word to “social” to create a new expression we are actually negating the very idea of what social stands for. Social media is after all a phenomenon that seems to decrease the number of social interactions we engage in. So I may not have the stats to prove it but just think of the last time you were on a train, were people actually talking to each other or just staring at their phones?

Social recruitment is the same. The same logic as described above applies and so while we seem to know what recruitment is and what social means, the combination seems to have little to do with either of those terms. What’s worrying is that most definitions of social recruiting seem to point to specific tools rather than specific activities. As social media is not social at all, social recruitment defined as “recruiting candidates by using social platforms” by default also becomes the antonym of social.

Whatever you do with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others, is it really what “social recruiting” should stand for? Template LinkedIn InMails? Broadcasting your roles on Twitter? Spamming your Facebook groups and Google+ communities with “incredible opportunities”? Not only is this not social, it’s quite pointless too, which leads some to believe social recruitment simply doesn’t work.

The only way to remedy the situation is to go back to the definition of “social” itself and use it to create a working definition of what social recruiting should be because what it is at the moment isn’t working for recruiters or candidates.

For the purposes of this blog, I’m using this Oxford English Dictionary definition: “Relating to or designed for activities in which people meet each other for pleasure”.


If you want people (they’re not candidates, yet) to spend time talking to you about what you do for a living with little (or sometimes no) hope of getting something out of it, you can at least make it a fun experience for them. Why is it that you reply to messages from your friends? Isn’t it simply because you find it pleasant? If potential candidates felt that same way about interacting with you, wouldn’t worrying about response rates and candidate experience become unnecessary?

Using this definition of social, shouldn’t social recruiting mean recruiting people in a way that allows them to learn about the job and the company in a way that they’d find… pleasant?

Wouldn’t that increase the responses from those who are looking for a new role as well as those who are not necessarily thinking of entering a recruitment process? If people enjoyed all the interactions with your company, don’t you think you’d have a higher chance of them spreading the word and sharing the information with their networks? And not just their online networks but their personal networks the ones you can’t find online.

The obvious example would be to talk about technical recruitment and developers who, after receiving countless irrelevant and unwanted InMails, simply delete their LinkedIn accounts in frustration. And what about other people, how many of your friends and family, are actually on LinkedIn?


I know to a lot of Recruiters this will seem ridiculous. In fact, when I reread my draft even I wondered how on earth we could make recruitment fun or pleasant?

The point is, don’t make it all about you and your needs.

I just read this piece asking recruiters if they really think they’re worth talking to. How you can make sure that whomever you speak to gets something out of the conversation, even if it turns out that they’re unsuitable for the role? Remember that this is your job but the people you are interacting with will have to choose to give you their time, so make sure you’re not just noise they’re trying to avoid.

Do your research, show some interest and don’t ask anyone to do your job for you. We’ve all had enough of the “great opportunity, read the job spec and let me know if you’re a match” messages by now. There’s only one rule to social recruiting and it’s this: it’s not the channel you use that makes you social it’s how you choose to use it.


Social Recruiting geek turned trainer @ Lightness, networking enthusiast & blogger. Love travel, sci-fi & all things employer branding! I travel between London and Poland a lot and so some of my social posts will be in Polish :)

9 thoughts on “This social recruitment thing just isn’t working…”

  1. Pingback: Przegląd mediów – maj #1 | Blog rekrutacyjny

  2. Phil Hutchinson-May - May 8, 2015 8:44 am

    A well thought out blog. I’ve practised “social recruitment” since 1995. It’s just the media that has changed. The phone is still my favourite “social media” for recruitment and most effective

    1. Kasia Borowicz - May 8, 2015 9:19 am

      Thank you for your comment Phil :) Agreed – it’s really not about the tools… which is why personally I think “social media recruitment” would be a little less confusing as a term. Unless we’re really talking about social recruiting of course :)

  3. - May 8, 2015 9:36 am

    Great piece Kasia – really, really good.
    As someone who gets very frustrated with ‘Social Recruiting’ being equated to digital platform marketing and automation through tech, for populated channels; it is so refreshing to hear someone approach the ‘social’ thing in the right way.

    Because at CloudNine, we learned social media from the social media professionals rather than recruitment people, we learned that ‘social recruiting’ is less about tech, and more about relevancy, visibility and playing in the same ball parks as your clients and candidates. That’s online and offline. Online is a means to offline, not a replacement of it.

    The phrase community has been so often mis-interpreted or misunderstood. The essence of great community is commonality and mutual relevance. A recruiter that not only participates in their target community, but also leads non-recruitment activity in that community; becomes a magnet, rather than a spammer; which in turn leads to the holy grail of greater inbound traffic. Not to mention, respect, credibility and kudos within that industry – rather than being an irritating recruiter.

    1. Kasia Borowicz - May 8, 2015 10:27 am

      Thank you for the kind words Steve :) I definitely agree, social is not the only word we’re misusing in recruitment. I guess I could write a whole separate blog on the subject ;)

      And I think you’re right about the communities, now that sounds much more social than what most recruiters do online!

  4. - May 14, 2015 7:36 am

    Brilliant article Kasia, I really like it! I never thought about social recruiting in this way (I mean, seeing that it is actually far not that social), but I think it’s an exciting angle to review from. Inspiring!

    1. Kasia Borowicz - May 14, 2015 8:30 am

      Thanks Katalin :)

  5. Noemi Fenyvesi - May 15, 2015 12:25 pm

    I think social media is social, just digitally social but it is still a human interaction… just not face to face.
    If you compare the it to traditional printed media for example there you could buy the newspaper and read it. Maybe you could call in and talk with a representative of the newpaper but now on social media you can add your opinion, interact, add your opinions and so much more…

    I as an expat would be a lot less social without social media as I wouldnt have found my communities and would have any platform to keep in touch with my friends from before.

    Check out this photo:

    And this article:

    I otherwise agree with your message. :)

    1. Kasia Borowicz - May 15, 2015 1:35 pm

      Hi Noemi, thanks for your comment :) I think the problem is there really is no interaction. I think the channel doesn’t matter as long as you actually get to talk to someone, but social recruitment is mostly used to describe posting job adverts. Check out different company pages on LinkedIn: they post updates, people comment, but no one from the company ever answers them. So it’s pretty much like reading a newspaper and then talking at it, hoping someone will reply…


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