Rachel Lange
Material Type:
Adult Education
  • Human Resources
  • Recruitment
  • Screening Candidates
  • Social Media
  • Sourcing Candidates
  • Staff Recruitment
    Creative Commons Attribution

    Social media in staff recruitment

    Social media in staff recruitment


    Social media is fast becoming an integral part of business and marketing and many businesses are already utilising social media in various ways including in staff recruitment. This module will explore the various uses of social media in staff recruitment and provide some best practice HR advice for its utilisation.

    Completion of this short module will enable you to integrate social media into your recruitment practices with a better understanding of its benefits and pitfalls.

    Introduction to social media

    Social media is becoming a way of life for many adults, especially in the developed world.

    According to the annual global digital report sponsored by We Are Social and Hootesuite (2018), worldwide 53% of the population are internet users and 42% actively use social media. In Australia, 88% of the population use the internet with 69% active users of social media. Worldwide there was a 13% increase in social media users since 2017. Adding to this, Facebook is the largest social media network with 2.17 billion users (as at 27 January 2018) with LinkedIn hosting 260 million users.

    It is only a logical next step that this is harnessed for use in workplace. In this lesson we explore the use of social media in recruitment and selection, specifically in sourcing and screening candidates.

    Following this lesson you will be able to make informed decisions based on validity and reliability and relevant case studies as to the use of social media for recruitment and selection in your organisation. 

    Sourcing candidates through social media

    Research shows that traditional job board websites and organisation websites are become less popular in sourcing talent giving hiring managers access predominantly to active job hunters. Increasingly hiring managers are utilising social media to find and engage passive candidates and are finding candidates who are more suitable, attracting a wider pool and for a lower cost (Koch, Gerber and De Klerk, 2018).

    Hays (2018) top recruitment trends for 2018 talked about a move away from the “Advertise and apply” methodology and a movement towards a “Find and engage” approach which can be achieved through digital search, use of analytics, building relationships with candidates and understanding candidate priorities.

    Whilst Facebook is the most popular social networking site in terms of users (We are social & Hootesuite, 2018), LinkedIn is the most popular when it comes to recruitment (JobVite, 2018), though this can be attributed to its predominant use as a professional networking tool whereas Facebook is often considered a personal connection tool (Nikolaou, 2014). Use of LinkedIn in recruitment is most commonly through posting job advertisements, contacting potential candidates through the messaging service and screening them whereas Facebook is generally used in brand promotion and promoting job advertisements (Koch, Gerber and De Klerk, 2018). Whilst LinkedIn is still most popular (77%), Facebook is increasing in popularity (63%) for use in recruitment as shown by a study by JobVite (2018).

    A case study of Maersk group, a large global organisation in the shipping and oil/gas industry, shows the use of Facebook to engage their target audience and build their following through posts in line with the company employer value propositions (EVP) and showcasing careers at Maersk significantly increased the number of applications for roles, quality of candidates and better engagement of candidates with the work of the company (Headworth, 2015).

    In terms of success with LinkedIn, Sky a British home entertainment and communications company, invested significantly in LinkedIn Recruiter, not only in license purchase but training and education as well, and the results were significant with 180 percent increase in the number of candidate profiles in their talent pipeline allowing recruiters to spend less time on traditional recruitment activities and more on identifying and qualifying potential talent (Headworth, 2015).  

    Social media when used in candidate search can be a more targeted approach in finding passive job hunters and often more suitable candidates. It is recommended that organisations invest resources into the right tools, training in the tools and joining forces with marketing to ensure an authentic brand is built via the chosen social media networks to showcase the organisation as a good place to work. 


    Think of a role that you have coming up or a role in your team/work area which may be hard to fill or involve specialist expertise.

    Note down some keywords which would help you to target someone for this role. 

    Would you consider targeted social media marketing for this role? How can you sell this role so as to engage candidates who would be a good fit for the role and organisation?


    Screening candidates through social media

    There are a number of considerations when using social media in selection including validity and reliability, legality and privacy.

    Correlation between social media profile data predicting personality assessment results is weak and therefore questionable (Guilfoyle, S. et. al., 2016). All activities within a recruitment process should relate to and assess the essential criteria of the role. With little research into criterion-related validity of social media profiles for recruitment screening, recruiters should be careful in this space (Bondarouk & Miguel, 2013).

    The Society for Human Resource Management (2015) cautions employers on using social media for candidate screening as it identifies personal information protected by anti-discrimination laws i.e. gender, age, race, sexual orientation, and can feed unconscious bias.

    Not issuing a collection notice to the candidate prior to searching their social media accounts could breach Australian Privacy Principles as it would not be deemed necessary access of personal information (Williams, Boyle, Lyndon, 2016).

    Reliability in social media profile screening is also low as there is the potential for information to be false, not posted by the candidate or even with the candidate’s consent and there is a possibility of mistaken identity (Bondarouk & Miguel, 2013). Also worth considering is a study on fairness of using social media to screen applicants which shows that applicants rate the use of social networking sites as less fair, believe it would negatively affect their intentions to apply for or continue with a job application and that it doesn’t produce information relevant to the job (Madera, 2012).  

    Recruitment decisions should be based on assessment of essential selection criteria (job-fit) or assessment of organisation-fit, not influenced by other external factors irrelevant to performance in the role. When using social media to assist selection decisions ask yourself, what criterion am I assessing? If the screening is not related to a criterion it might be best to avoid.



    Review your Facebook friends list and pick 3 people from this list. Go to their facebook profile (whilst logged out would be best).

    Review their profile and note down 3 pieces of information that you can pick up about this person. e.g. can you determine their age, what can you identify about their personality, what have they listed as interests?

    Now, review this list and consider for these 3 people, what from this list is relevant to how they would perform or behave at work? Do any of these descriptors influence your view on whether they would be good to work with? What assumptions do you make?



    Guilfoyle, S. et. al. (2016) Social Media, Big Data, and Employment Decisions: Mo’ Data, Mo’ Problems?, Social Media in Employee Selection and Recruitment, Springer, Switzerland.

    Headworth, A. (2015) Social Media Recruitment : How to Successfully Integrate Social Media into Recruitment Strategy. Kogan Page, Limited.

    Koch, T., Gerber, C., & De Klerk, J.J. (2018). The impact of social media on recruitment: Are you LinkedIn? SA Journal of Human Resource Management/SA, 16 (0)

    Madera, J.M. (2012), “Using social networking sites as a selection tool: the role of selection process fairness and job pursuit intentions”, International Journal of Hospitality Management, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 1276-1282.

    Nikolaou, I. (2014) Social Networking Web Sites in Job Search and Employee Recruitment, International Journal of Selection and Assessment, vol 22, iss 2

    Society for Human Resource Management (2015) Know before you hire: 2015 Employment screening trends. Retrieved from: 

    We are social & Hootesuite (2018) Digital in 2018, retrieved from:

    Williams, D., Boyle, C., Lyndon, C. (2016) Facebook and employee privacy, MinterEllison. Retreived via

    Image from Pixabay: