The Impact of Facebook on Recruitment

This hyperessay reviews the impact of social media—namely Facebook—on organizational recruitment. Social network recruiting is not a secret anymore. The key for my industry (biotech) is not just to do it, but to do it well so that they gain a competitive advantage.

In 2012 few things will matter in business as much as speed. He who gets their first will win. Social media have the unprecedented ability to tap into powerful networks and help companies find the talent they need—faster and cheaper than ever before.  In today’s landscape, it’s not only the message that matters, but how and where you reach your audience. It’s about connecting and interactivity. It’s about going to your audience rather than asking them to come to you.

Ninety percent of the time you’ll find them online. As Wittkower pointed out, social media platforms like Facebook are growing more important by the day. The ways in which we communicate have dramatically changed. Best-in-class companies advertise career opportunities and share their employment brand on social sites, because that is where their audience is. They identify, create, and manage a social presence that extends their brand into the digital world.

We have spent the last couple of weeks examining how companies best use Facebook. We have narrowed our focus, and identified two who are exemplary for their ability to market, publicize or publish content. In my research two companies’ rose to the top: Cisco and Fast Company. As different as these two companies are, I identified three things they have in common:

  1. Strategic focus—they identify strategic opportunities where social media can improve the brand’s competitive position.
  2. Collaboration—their social media sites are managed collaboratively to build and deepen customer relationships.
  3. Encourage Interaction—they gain value from consumers by encouraging interaction by posting content that isn’t necessarily related to their business.

Strategic Focus

In 2010 Cisco introduced a new structure to drive alignment on process, skills, and behaviors in key areas where social can have a strategic impact. It is made up of the following roles:

Digital Community Manager Manages external online communities (for all stakeholders)Helps create and post information to encourage two-way dialogue
Monitoring Manager Assigns relevant dialogue to appropriate team, leads and manages response (usually the first line of response)
Connector Connects stories to influencers and inspires activity/conversationsUses intelligence, empathy and sincerity to “bridge” a story to others in a way that’s compelling to them
Content Producer Creates or ensures others create content to fuel customer interactions (e.g., videos, blog posts, policies)
Research Librarian Analyzes relevant terms used by customers and documents conversations by content/sentiment  Presents data for analysis by strategists
Industry Expert/Strategist Leads digital strategy and masters the art/science of linking new and traditional media to the bottom line and also understands customers and market trends
Subject Matter Expert Uses expertise built on the job to create interesting or informative content for customers and works in conjunction with content producer

The beauty of this structure is that it prioritizes conversations with potential for two-way value exchange between the company and customers. The volume of conversations social media staff receive can often prevent a company from responding to all of them. In this structure Cisco listens for actionable conversation, finding opportunities to add value where candidate conversations are naturally happening. The average post on Cisco’s Facebook page has 150 likes and 10 comments. The post below received 60 likes and one comment. You can see if Cisco examined this post with a strategic filter, they would choose to forgo follow-up posts on this topic, and focus on those where they generate more interest from their audience.

Cisco uses principled decision rules to narrow opportunities based on their potential value add by looking for alignment with business objectives (e.g., feedback, new business opportunities, developing strategic relationships and boosting awareness or loyalty). Since those objectives were not present in this case, they moved on. The next example shows a post that mentions a new product launch. Posts that mentioned new products received the most comments and likes. Not surprisingly I saw more attention paid to posts such as this:


Cisco and Fast Company enable subject matter experts to be heard on Facebook. For example on Fast Company, the following post leads with a quote from someone featured in the magazine, rather than the voice of the magazine.












This is a great way for a company to extend their reach. By linking to someone else’s page (who has a generous amount of followers already) you extend the visibility of your brand to people who might not normally see it.

Build Relationships

Cisco and Fast Company both focus on starting authentic conversations. The people who follow the Facebook pages for Fast Company and Cisco are what we call ‘high potential’ for quality candidate referrals. When they post something on their page, and someone ‘likes’ it or posts a comment, it broadcasts the content to their network, increasing visibility to high-profile job candidates.

Studies have shown people like to receive messages, that they are most likely to open them if they come from friends, and they are reluctant to open messages from those they do not know Therefore, it is important to engage in conversations and understand how prospective employees view the company. You can use that information to craft a employee value proposition or messaging campaigns that address misinformation.

To encourage interaction, Cisco and Fast Company add fun (and sometimes seemingly random) topics to get their followers talking. On average, the content was a 50/50 content split: technical posts vs. lighter/fun posts.  Take this post, for example, that shares a video that call “fun” featuring top executives rapping.

Notice the high number of comments on the posts above.  No longer is communication a one way street. As Miekle explained, social media has enabled the many-to-many communication flow. This is where an organization releases information and engages in direct interaction with the recipient and amongst members of the audience. In addition to being a true many-to-many platform the content was extended to each of those people’s followings, at no cost to the sender.

There are a number of reasons to suspect that content shared in this manner can have a powerful influence over attitudes, beliefs and behavior. Whether individuals share the content directly (e.g., sent electronically to the receiver) or indirectly (e.g., posted on a sender’s online profile or website for others to see), information from a peer is generally assumed to be of some interest and value.

Many studies have shown that humor, fun, intrigue, and emotional connections are present in messages that go viral. Therefore, incorporating fun content (such as videos, pictures, status updates, user posts, and exclusive opportunities) Cisco and Fast Company attract a broad audience and strike an emotional connection. When their users respond to these posts, it increases the likelihood of peers taking it among themselves to share the content with one another.

Here’s another example of a fun post by Fast Company.  The title says it all.

As you can see Cisco and Fast Company start the topic of conversation, but rarely participate in the dialogue that it results. When they do participate, its to correct misinformation or respond to a customer concern like the one below. Here a follower identified Cisco that a link they posted was not working, and they quickly responded.


This hyperessay focused on how companies are leverage social media to create a strong base of job applicants. Today, Facebook is the largest of the social networking sites with over 400 million users. It connects people with friends and others who work, study, and live around them. Building Facebook into their recruiting mix companies like Cisco and Fast Company are building a community of high quality potential job applicants who are engaging with their companies on a regular basis.

Social media recruiting helps employers like Fast Company and Cisco get to know potential job candidates and what their views on the company. As with any job opening, using social media recruiting requires time and effort but it’s an investment in longer-term benefits for your company.


About charlottecosgrove

Disclaimer:this blog has been created as an educational exercise for my graduate coursework at John's Hopkins University
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