Social Media Recruiting: Mistakes to Avoid

As more people use social media, some small businesses are interested in incorporating tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn into their recruiting strategy. Although these tools can help hiring managers expand their reach, there are pitfalls to avoid when engaging in social media recruiting. Here are five common mistakes managers make:

1. Thinking social media recruiting is risk-free

Job candidates are inviting employers to view their profiles on both mainstream social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Google Plus) and more professionally oriented social networks (e.g., LinkedIn), hoping the information will help hiring managers see a more complete view of the "real person" beyond the resume and cover letter. However, this level of openness can be dicey territory for employers.

Candidates have sued companies because they believe they were rejected for a job based on content posted on their online profile. Still, many employers evaluate these profiles as part of their social media recruiting strategy, and the information they find can influence their decision-making.

Your legal department can provide insight on navigating potential issues in using social media tools and applications in the hiring process. They also can help with establishing clear guidelines for interacting with candidates online.

2. Thinking it can replace traditional interpersonal interaction

This is one of the biggest mistakes of all. Too many companies that decide to use social media recruiting mistakenly see it as a cure-all for their hiring needs. Social media efforts should augment, not replace, traditional one-on-one contact, which includes outreach to potential candidates through in-person networking events, as well as relationships built with reputable recruiters. And there is ample reason why.

The quality of a candidate's interpersonal skills are increasingly important to small businesses – even in non-customer-facing positions such as many accounting and finance jobs – since teamwork and the need to communicate with others throughout the company has risen in importance. As a result, hiring managers need to understand how individuals will mesh with the organization and its corporate culture. These aren't attributes an employer can accurately evaluate on a Facebook or LinkedIn page.

3. Being quick to judge

Managers who judge potential hires too harshly based on what they find about them online run the risk of unintentionally eliminating skilled candidates. They forget that social networking profiles are not resumes. You wouldn't hire someone based solely on the fine prose of a well-written cover letter, so don't reject a candidate just because you raised an eyebrow at the content posted on his or her profile.

Gen Y candidates, for example, who are particularly active in the social media space, are typically comfortable with having their personal and professional lives overlap on the Internet. Hiring managers need to be aware as they engage in social media recruiting that some job seekers may share personal information about themselves online more freely than other professionals.

4. Not recognizing the time commitment

Social networking sites are communities, which means it can take months to build relationships with users – especially if you are a small business. Managers who go in without considering the potential time commitment involved in forming useful relationships using Twitter, Facebook or other social media will meet with an unpleasant reality.


While simply jumping into the social media space is relatively easy, it is not the panacea many hiring managers may think. The most successful hiring strategies depend on a combination of resources that include both high-tech and high-touch approaches.