Social Recruiting

I'm giving the keynote talk at the Social Recruiting Summit in NYC on Monday. I've been working on my presentation over the past few days and some themes are worth talking about.

1) Since we started Union Square Ventures in 2003/2004, we have only been involved with one retained search. Our portfolio companies have certainly used search firms, but our use of them has been extremely rare. We prefer to source candidates ourselves using our networks, and increasingly our social networks.

2) We sourced both of our junior investment professionals, Andrew Parker and Eric Friedman, with blog posts at

3) We have sourced countless senior hires for our portfolio companies off of this blog and I would bet that we've done a couple dozen successful hires that way in the past couple years.

4) Many of our companies have internal recruiters and we work hand in hand with them, sourcing talent, vetting talent, and closing the sale.

5) LinkedIn is a terrific place to find talent and to find references. When I want to check someone out, I invite them to connect to me on LinkedIn, I find who we know in common, and that is my reference list. Charlie O'Donnell taught me these LinkedIn tricks about five years ago and I use them all the time. 

6) is also a terrific place to find talent and figure out who they know. Let's say you wanted to find the top execs at LinkedIn. You can find them all in one place here.

7) Hunting for talent is necessary but not always sufficient. You need to get the word out. Like all things on the internet, there are free ways and paid ways to do that.

8) The best free way is get your jobs indexed by Indeed so they can be found by the over 10 million people a month who go there looking for jobs. We feature all the jobs in our portfolio on the front page of by running an Indeed stored query of all the jobs in our portfolio companies.

9) Social networks like Twitter and Facebook are also great free ways to get the word out. Post the job on your website and tweet it out, get it retweeted, searched, and discovered and the resumes will start coming in.

10) You can also pay to get your jobs "sponsored" in Indeed. You can post job ads via Facebook's self serve ad system and target them at very specific locations and job types. And we'll see more social media/networks offer paid systems like this in the next year.

11) There are all sorts of niche communities on the web you should be hanging out in if you want to find talent. For tech/engineering talent, we like to look at Meetup groups on certain tech topics (there are eight Ruby On Rails meetups within 25 miles of NYC), open source projects, and niche communities like Hacker News and Stack Overflow. You can play the same game with communities for other kinds of job types. The key is you have to hang out there a bit, get to know the community and the people in it, and build trust and add value.

That last point is the big point. Social media is about showing up, hanging out, and earning trust. If you want to use social media to source talent, you can't fake it. You have to really participate in these systems. But if and when you do, they are incredibly powerful and are changing the face of recruiting.

I look forward to talking to the recruiting community about this topic more on Monday. And if you have ideas for other things I should be talking about, please leave them in the comments.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mike Duda

    I loved this part:Social media is about showing up, hanging out, and earning trust. If you want to use social media to source talent, you can’t fake it. You have to really participate in these systems.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. that sounded best coming off the keyboard to me too

      1. Vasudev Ram

        That phrase “sounded best coming off the keyboard” sounded good to me … :)BTW, Disqus seems to be getting better over time. Congrats, Disqus team! I was about to post this comment without logging to Disqus; had typed it in but not hit Submit. Then changed my mind and decided to first login to Disqus in a separate browser tab. Did that, then came back here. Reloaded this page. The entered (but not yet submitted) comment was still there, but was not under your comment now – it was at the top of the comments list, just below the post. Due to this, I was not sure that my comment would still be shown as a reply to your comment about “sounded best coming off the keyboard”. So I selected my comment text and deleted it with a Ctrl-X. Then reclicked on the Reply button below your comment to which I was replying. Interestingly, after all this, my comment text was still there in the text box. So Disqus seems to be doing a lot to make things easy for users. Cool …

        1. ShanaC

          Can we see disqus get off of twitter and also sourced into things like linkedin… please

  2. joshuakarp

    But how do you know who and what to trust? It’s the same problem with a resume, granted, but I’m not sure I should trust my “sense” of a person from looking at their Facebook profile or their Tweets, or even their blog. At the end of the day, I also want some sense of what a person accomplished for their last employer. I’m also amazed that someone hasn’t launched (with any press, that is) a mechanism for rating someone’s reputation or credibility.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s what references are all about. you have to do the work. linkedinmakes it a lot easier to find people you know in common. twitter andfacebook can help with that too.

      1. joshuakarp

        Agreed… but would you use a social network to find a top notch linemanager for a manufacturing plant or a general manager for a regionalchain of restaurants? Maybe… but I run into a lot of well qualifiedpeople who are still very well hidden from linkedin and Twitter, andwho use their Facebook page sparingly to trade pictures with theirfriends and family. If you’re looking for someone in tech, of coursethese methods work – but what percentage of our employed (orunemployed) base are tech? What percentage of the Fortune 500 open joblistings coincide with employment history of those people on Twitter?

        1. fredwilson

          good pointbut some are on twitter, linkedin, and facebook and maybe they are the kindsof people you’d want to hire in this day and age

        2. ShanaC

          This is a totally personality based thing clearly. I’m not one of those types who will tweet a lot. I only tweet at “events” that seems to “work” with tweeting. In the past month that’s been one class and remotely the ny tech meetup. As a result, beyond Mark essel’s list, I’ve only gotten onto one. None of my friend’s use twitter (college thing right now I realize…or a chasm, I haven’t decided, I’m thinking about it…though they all got really intrigued when they realized I use it for talking to other people quietly at events… and not for celebrity blather) I still don’t know entirely who I should be following, this is only starting to be sorted out now, it’s a huge process that can take time.I would want to say, you should take a look at someone’s social networking stuff in aggregate. I used delcious heavily, but I use it as my backup bookmarking system. technically I use friendfeed, but I barely check in. I check into hackernews, and I think they are smart, but they sometimes scare me. I found that the communitarian structure of reddit, where I knew a lot abotu certain topics, and none at all about others, made it really difficult to see how I would use it. And Digg, although I have an account, for some reason just turns me off…What percetage of these places also allow you to do skill building easily? Their links move very fast. Stability of certain links, and even of certain people, is not a perogative. I actually just managed to Find Yule earlier this week (Hi!) on twitter. It’s so difficult to keep track of the non-dross to see where who you know are. The multiplictiy of social networks thing has to die down too, and/orr sopcialize and/or integrate better. I’m unhappy with the fact that I don’t know how to map myself. I think I have only a few college friends on LinkedIn. We’re over mapped at this point. Non of us know how to make it work, and we’re too ehh about any more social networks to “Make It Happen” as Tim Gunn would say.It’s at the point now where I’m just making offical AVC people lists for twitter, just so I know who is what. I don;’t care if there are multiple lists. It’s also at the point where I don’t know where I fit anymore. That would be good advice to so many people “Where they fit”

    2. kidmercury

      fred mentioned that you need to participate in the systems to earn trust, you can’t fake it….i agree with this 110%…..and i think a by product of this is that the systems will be positioned to serve as reputation/credibility providers. i think there is a connection between gaming and reputation; for instance with foursquare, when someone becomes a mayor of some place or something, that is both game play (fun to be awarded the title) as well as reputation indicator (signals to the rest of the community this person knows the place well).

      1. joshuakarp

        Ultimately, I want to determine what equals trust – on a person byperson basis, and I’m not so certain I want to put this activitysolely in the hands of a system. For example, I need to hire adeveloper, so I might evaluate skill based on frequency of keywordsfrom blog posts, Tweets, prior job responsibilities listed inlinkedin, and maybe even from looking at the same characteristics fromthat developer’s followers and friends – but if he’s a jerk, or he’sunreliable, or he’s simply known to be a liar, I’m still going to needa person to tell me this – like Fred mentioned, none of the systematicways of evaluating a person can take the place of a reference (intheory – who offers up references on people that are going to benegative?).Someone ought to invent some general way to rate online reputationbased on a whole slew of metrics, including personal opinion.

        1. kidmercury

          i agree with a lot of what you are saying. what i think is going to happen, though, is that soc nets like linkedin/facebook/twitter will increasingly have a governance component, and this governance component will largely be humanized, not just automated. for instance, what if there was a reputation system here at AVC, and fred was in charge of it? would you trust it then? i think the properly designed system will allow trusted sources to make their trust more scalable.

        2. ShanaC

          JoshuaI hate LinkedIN. That is all. I’m not totally surprised there isn’t a backlash to that damned thing.And you would know more about me from talking to me here.Also, I find it weird that you have a variant of my last name…

  3. LIAD

    Recruitment is broken.Retained search/headhunters – majorly expensive – goals not truly aligned with entrepreneur. We want best candidate, they want to lock in their commission asap.Tech recruiters are the worst – as soon as a candidate has finished their trial period, thus ending the rebate period on their commission if they leave – they actively try and recruit them to another company – to try and earn another commission – Argghh! – Parasites!Of the hires I’ve made in the past year, both tech and marketing – twitter has proved the most useful – tweet ==>retweet ==>responses ==> social digging/linkedin/portfolio sites/Facebook ==> interviews ===>hireTwitter has afforded me £000’s in saved recruitment fees in 2009( – they need to find a way to capture that value)

    1. fredwilson

      twitter can copy indeed’s modelthere can be free/organic and there cab be ways to amplify by paying

    2. Donna Brewington White

      WAIT A MINUTE! The grossly generalized description you give does not fit any of the executive search and recruitment professionals I know. There are actually recruiters out there who are passionate about serving their client’s needs.Based on what you have described, I would encourage more due diligence in selecting recruitment partners. In fact, check our references just as you would a candidate’s. I would strongly advise against working with a search or recruitment firm that does not have a hands off policy regarding a company that has been a client in the past year, preferably two. I can only hope that you are doing a better job of hiring employees than in selecting recruiters. Some of the same principles apply.I will say that recruitment is being revolutionized to some degree by social media and it is a welcome disruption. However, it’s really more a matter of how we do some parts of the job, not the entire job. The overall function of recruitment hasn’t changed so much as the act of sourcing candidates…and this is only a small part of effective hiring. If you are merely using social media to source, then you still may not really identify the best candidates — but only the most easily accessible ones.The way that social media affects the recruiting/executive search profession may have more to do with what has always been a hallmark of good recruiting — building relationships. The best recruiters don’t approach recruiting as merely one transaction after another, but as a continual process of establishing and cultivating relationships. Social media is revolutionary as a tool in facilitating this vital aspect of our business — but this is true of many other businesses as well.

  4. andyswan

    Once again, “social media” is proven to be a tool that can be used to lever proven, timeless best-practices.

    1. awaldstein

      Andy–I second and third this! Best practices, common sense, honest communications are now exercisable online. I think that the real time data efficiency of platforms like Disqus breed social interactions that act under the basic principles of people and communities, whether on or offline.

  5. Fraser

    You and Brad have had me talk with a number of individuals looking for advice on how to join an early stage start-up on the business side.A common piece of advice that I give is this: if you haven’t used social media to network and create the specific opportunity you want, you’ve failed. In today’s world you should never be another resume on the pile for a publicly posted position.

    1. ShanaC

      Which social media is good for which person? At what point? No one ever answers that question….

      1. Fraser

        I think the only honest answer is the one that nobody likes: ‘it depends’It depends on what platforms the company is using and how they’re using it.

      2. Mark Essel

        I’d like to expand on Fraser’s “depends” because that’s always a frightening wardrobe to end up in (credit to Andy Swan for instigating me to crack jokes here).Always have your own blog, and show strength in the area that you are pursuing professionally by sharing your expertise.Social Media, PR Jobs: Be active on all the biggies, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, maybe even have your own Ning community, is strong for local gatherings.Tech startup early employees: Open Source (have started or heavily contributed to something awesome), hang out and give excellent input on Hacker News or Stack Overflow/Server FaultInformation savvy spots: Twitter, friendfeedCraft based positions: Etsy? You’d know better than I

        1. ShanaC

          I’m not craft-crafty. I do theory based internet art. Very different…Even you admit that. Someone here just happened to like what I wrote about them, mostly because I tend to look at myself and the world around me way too analytically for my own good. ;-PI’m against the idea of everyone having their own little community. I’m against all of this popping up and saying “another place to hang loose socially on the web.” I could spend hours doing this. Hours. Days, months, years. And yet, it is not in the end what is important. It is how people interact in these spaces.I’m also the only person here That I am pretty sure reads what would be considered a “capitalist” next to a “radical marxist” on the web, recognize the truth in both, and still go be a “capitalist.”And I think, it is proper to recognize that there are uncomfortable spaces in lifestreaming, and the faster we recognize the paradoxical nature in them, the faster we resolve the issues in them. Granted, that’s my BA, so I have vested interest, but I doubt I’ll be the last to state ambivalence is a good place to be. And as long we fail to recognize those paradoxes, and how to move beyond the paradoxes, we’re going to have a very tough time crossing lots of chasms.What is this comment in relation to me: An element of me the person: an action I took, a place I inhabit, or an object that I and you can handle in a variety of ways? I don’t know. Most social media works the same way. And it freaks people out when they realize any level of those questions. And it is why a lot of it is a slow turn away and a slow pull in at the same time. It is very hot media, and very cold media and the same time. At the end of the day, you decide, and it is a stress on the body as old methods of media get destroyed. One of the reasons I’m horrible to y’all and ran that argument yesterday? about social/gaming point banking on the web was that some of these systems have to die. Absolutely have to, it’s the darwinian nature of life, including net life. I rather be the person with some set of predictive tools to know relatively in advance about those choices. But hey, that’s me. I want to know what tools will be alive. To me some of these things are very large bets, because we are still in cowboy country, whether we want to admit to it, or not. I’m betting, but I still want to have some hedge, you know.

  6. Pete

    Social media has the potential to do to recruiting what it has done to marketing: remove the corporate bottleneck and push the power to the employees. Who is best positioned to find the next great developer… the HR department or the rockstars on your dev team?All the employees need are the tools, and I would argue the components are there: the job listings are all online and everyone’s professional social networks are online too.Pete

    1. Rob K

      I agree Pete. See my comment above. It’s the killer app for ‘social recruting’

      1. Pete

        It is Rob, there is an incredible amount of potential. Not to spam here (I posted this on avc yesterday), but I wrote some thoughts on this recently:…If LinkedIn would open up their API, a start-up could do some damage in this market.Pete

        1. Rob K

          Pete- Just read your blog. You’re dead on. This is the vision of Jobvite, but they have tied the social use to the applicant tracking system. They know that’s wrong, but they have not uncoupled them yet. I mentioned this to senior execs at LinkedIn and they seem almost proud of the lack of recruitment DNA inside the company.

          1. Pete

            Thanks for taking the time to read it, Rob. Are you involved with Jobvite? ATS integration makes sense to close the loop, but you’re right, employee social networks obviously don’t exist there.Pete

          2. Rob K

            Pete- I’m not involved with Jobvite at all. I met the CEO by phone when I was looking for a new position. I like the vision. H3 (a company in Boston) tried this as well, but they flamed out.

          3. ShanaC

            I used Jobvite. MY firends are no transfering over to LinkedIn easily despite prodding from Career. It’s only after the first Job do people really start using it.And for some reason, JobVite insits on deformatting resumes. That’s bad form.

          4. Dan Finnigan

            We have uncoupled the “Jobvite” functionality from our leading applicant tracking platform for those companies who want it. It is a new product we launched at the end of September, Jobvite Source. It supports all employee referral efforts, but goes further and enables companies to match their jobs to anyone with a profile on the open web and manage prospect and candidate communications through our unique “Jobviting” communication tools. Check out both Jobvite Source, and our core Jobvite Hire products at [email protected]

          5. Rob K

            Dan- That’s great. I’ll check it out.

  7. Dan T

    Finding great candidates is just like finding great sales leads. All the work you do every day creates the relationships you need when the opportunities arise.If you are not doing the work in advance than it’s a crap shoot. If the first thing you are doing is posting a job on Dice – let the crap shoot begin. Compare that to the effectiveness of announcing that same role on this blog. WOW. Or ideally, just sending a note to those three guys you met at a ruby on rails meetup.

  8. marklanday

    Fred,Nice post. I look forward to sitting in on the stream Monday. As a retained executive recruiter we do use some of these tools. And, Yes knowing the community and building trust are key aspects to it.I would add, that attracting the best person out there and they may not be looking for a new job or opportunity takes a little more targeting and direct/referred approach. Additionally, if focused on active job seekers, the ad copy or job description needs to be compelling.Look forward to seeing you Monday,Mark

  9. Rob K

    Fred- I’m sorry I won’t be able to make this summit, it is a subject I have spent a lot of time thinking about and working on. Employee Referrals have been, and will continue to be, the best sources of hire for almost every company. No solution provider has yet solved the problem of integrating an employers’ open positions with the social graph and referrals of their employees. Jobvite is the furthest along, but it is imperfect (you still have to buy the ATS software to get the rest). That is the killer ‘social recruting’ app.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a good observation rob

  10. ara818

    You didn’t mention one of the social sites that I think is most useful in hiring software tech talent: Github. I might be looking for people to join my startup soon and “social” coding sites like Github are the first place I will look. For any technology stack you’re working with, you can find a ton of people working actively and releasing useful bits of code out into Github … participation in that environment (at least for now) shows an engagement in software that’s invaluable especially to startups who need super-motivated people on board.

    1. fredwilson

      For sure. I should have mentioned github

  11. pgillingwater

    A key counter to social hiring is that we mainly go after folks who aren’t on the market and who aren’t making themselves available to approaches – so I guess our catchment area is bigger and far more proactive . Anyone with a decent brain and spare time can do what we do – it’s the investment in time and resources which count and whilst good in theory, who really wants to sell their own house, run all their own investments or even clean their own house if someone else can do it better (this is key!) and quicker. I know a CEO who hired a CTO all by himself and he save £1000’s in fees but his Company suffered a lot because he spent weeks and weeks proving to himself he could do it. Nonetheless, search should be focused on key hires only and when you can’t afford to compromise on fit – even if it does cost you 3 or 4 months salary in fees.

  12. Guest

    It’s interesting that you bring up Facebook and Twitter. I’ve noticed several things happening via status updates – people posting jobs (i.e. “so and so is looking for a system admin” or “I’m looking for a rockstar coder, anyone know of somebody?”).I also see people requesting product information (just from today: “should I go with Mac or PC? Why?”).I like it because it’s real-time, and people get answers from those that matter most.

    1. ShanaC

      I found that IF I did that form my blog it didn’t help…hmmm…

      1. Guest

        Why do you suppose that is?I think it’s because most mainstream users aren’t really into blogging – they’re using Facebook and Twitter. In addition, friends are much more likely to comply with requests (i.e. “should I go see Paranormal?” or “does anyone know a good c++ programmer?”) than strangers or people they don’t like. The more closely you’re related to someone, the more likely they are to respond to your requests.

        1. ShanaC

          I wanted specific needs off of my computer. That l didn’t know what I wanted to do long term with that question, and that I had short term skills (IE I had some basic skills with Final Cut Pro for example, and Some skills in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop,, even though I found certain parts of them uncomfortable because I started out in charcoal/vellum, and that I long term wanted to move into things like Blender/maya and learn to code…and I had to write all of that up, plus some more)Not easily expressible in 140 characters. Computers are also aspirational buys I discovered along the way. And that I am way overloaded and can’t do it all. And that I need some structure time to do all of that.I disagree with most people about content cycles and blogs. I actually have to write to a professor on campus about this. And I think one of my BA peices proves this point well. Most people are uncomfortable with Identity structures on the internet. We are in a state of flux. Put them in firm states in inter/intranets that serve strong purposes, and they will do things. Lots of things. Friends may reply with requests, but the power of anonymous is very relieving and very stressful on the psyche. It takes masks off and allows people to consume and produce things they would not otherwise. I have a half blocked open Facebook account to prove it 😉 and I need a way of packaging it for a Bachelors critique for thursday to prove the point.(Though I’m thinking we/it may need some fake friends and draw out a storyline, who wants to date a collective?)

  13. karen_e

    I am a big fan of LinkedIn, too. In my industry we constantly partner with other firms, locally and all over the world. It has been a lot of fun to slowly and persistently nudge my over-60 colleagues to get into LinkedIn and see for themselves how ‘desktop networking’ can work. When I see them using the status updates to broadcast what they’re doing or using SlideShare to show a quick portfolio of their work, I recognize that in staff meetings. Most things digital put hierarchy on its head as the junior staff is often sighted coaching the senior staff.

  14. Aristotle

    Hi Fred, had a thought about another aspect of social recruiting. It expands on your point about companies being authentic and not faking it when participating in social communities.Recruiting is a two way exchange. The company finds the candidate online but then the candidate will certainly check out the company’s presence online as well. In addition to making use of social media for recruiting the company needs to establish that presence and use it to provide access to what its all about, its culture, personality, what’s important to it, etc. Not only will this help with social recruiting, it will also ensure the people recruited will have a much higher probability fitting in and reaching their potential in that environment, which ultimately is what social recruiting, or anyrecruiting for that matter, is all about.This is exactly what you’ve done with this blog and By sharing what you’re about, your investment thesis and strategy, and how you see things playing out, while also expressing you and the firms personality, culture, and values, you have a much higher probability of getting responses from both startups and employees who get what you’re about and think the same way.I think this is an important part of the social recruiting process. Companies can handle it in different ways, but having an authentic personality and culture and finding a way to open that up to peopleseems to me to be the first step in social recruiting.

    1. Pete

      This is a great point, and I’d like to add that a company doesn’t have much control over how its work culture is perceived. Companies are collections of people, and many of these people are self-exposed online through LinkedIn, blogs, twitter, Youtube, etc. So if you’re interviewing for a job, especially at a tech oriented company, you can get a sense for the people with a little bit of googling. “People” does not equal “culture”, but it is a key component.USV is a great example. AVC isn’t about USV, it’s about Fred Wilson. And you can read the individual blogs of every person who works at USV.Whether employees realize it or not, social media makes them windows into their company culture.Pete

  15. penelopetrunk

    This is a topic I think a lot about (and, full disclosure, I’m the founder of, a social network for young people to manage their career.)At this point, most companies understand that one of the fastest way to get ROI from social media is by using it for recruiting. And Jobvite has a great study that says that companies think they make better hires when they do it through social media.One thing I hear a lot from recruiters is that they are focusing on pipelining rather than posting a job and matching it to a candidate. Pipelining is the process of building relationships with a large candidate pool, and then, when you do have a job, you just go to your pipeline for help filling the job. The industry-wide shift to pipelining means that social media becomes one of the most important tools in a recruiter’s box.So then, the question is not “should you use social media for recruiting” but rather “how do you find the conversations that will reveal a candidate’s professional potential?” And, of course, we think we have created the answer, at

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Good recruiters have been “pipelining” or some variation of this all along and this has been a significant part of our business. However, social media as a tool has revolutionized those activities that go into pipelining. For one, there is no longer an excuse for recruiting not to be highly relational which I believe produces the best results in the end (at least for us who do this for a living). Just as marketers are talking more about an integrated social media strategy — I believe that this will increasingly become part of the recruiter/search consultant’s “methodology” as well — not just in “sourcing” but in being present in the marketplace — where the action is. And this translates into a robust pipeline. Sourcing can be delegated, relationship management cannot — which is where the true beauty of social media comes in. BTW, what you are doing at seems to be taking the intersection of career management and social media to a new level…among other things, breaking down the isolation that so many have felt and replacing this with synergy. Hats off to you and much success!

  16. jobnob

    We have a new website that does a combination of in person events and on line social networking connecting jobseekers and startups that has been a huge hit in the Bay Area. We had an event in Palo Alto last night with over 400 attendees, including top companies like Meebo, Playdom, RockYou, Redbeacon and even LinkedIn and Yahoo! and all of the jobseekers were Ivyplus grads. We agree that social recruiting is the best way to recruit and we are making it happen in Silicon Valley (and rolling out to new cities like Seattle and LA). Expect us in New York in early 2010!


    “Social media is about showing up, hanging out, and earning trust. If you want to use social media to source talent, you can’t fake it.”Agree, and to add: it’s also about being as straightforward and transparent as possible about your corporate culture. Hiding behind formality during the “courting” process will lead to dissatisfaction and mediocre performance. Social media gives us all an enormous opportunity to “be ourselves” – we should take it. Fit matters.-Katie Del Guercio, Director of Business Development & Marketing, KODA (

  18. Charles Birnbaum

    I agree with most of what you’re saying here Fred, but I have a problem with relying too heavily on social media presence to filter through candidates.I have been an avid reader of this blog for years, but I rarely join in on the discussion. Perhaps that’s a mistake on my part if a potential employer will judge me for it, but I would hope that experience, education and references would trump my lack of web presence for a position on the business side of a start-up. I’m sure many people in this community would disagree with me, and I’m certainly open to hearing why a web presence is essential for being an effective teammate at a start-up…

  19. Donna Brewington White

    Fred — I wish I could be at the conference on the 16th. I am certain that you will share valuable insights as will the other presenters. It is apparent that you have utilized social media as an effective sourcing tool. One of the reasons that I believe it has been so effective for you is your overall presence on social media that creates a relational foundation. One of the keys to excellent recruiting is establishing and cultivating relationships.I love the transparency that social media is introducing to the marketplace and, therefore, to recruiting. It has too often been an isolated function. I appreciate that you have astutely referenced the value of social media in “sourcing” leaving room for a distinction between sourcing and the overall process of effective recruitment and hiring. Obviously, you identify other ways social media is valuable to the process as well. What strikes me is that rather than threatening the role of professional recruiters and search consultants, social media enhances our work. Social media is a tool — but at its best it is a relational tool and those who are not willing to invest relational time and energy will never fully reap its benefits.I doubt that using social media strictly from a transactional perspective for the purpose of sourcing alone will truly produce the richest results even though it may produce warm bodies to fill jobs. Again, I would maintain that success in generating candidates of a certain caliber is a function of your overall integrated approach to social media, and the social presence and equity you have established.

    1. fredwilson

      I agree that is just a tool. But it is a powerful tool

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Powerful tool. Agree. Wholeheartedly.

  20. Bill Rice

    I love the emerged concept of the online portfolio. You can increasingly really see what you are getting based on folks online participation, performance, and production.This is so critical for start-ups that can’t afford to make many (if any) hiring mistakes.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      The transparency that social media affords — for both sides of the hiring equation is phenomenal. However, there are still numerous people out there representing exceptional talent who are still practically invisible online. Especially those who aren’t consciously marketing themselves. My guess is that you will have better success identifying a marketing executive online than a busily and happily employed CFO.

      1. Bill Rice

        I definitely see your point.However, like the resume of old I expect some basic level of effort. I think increasingly that being connected and verifiable online (say through LinkedIn) is that minimum level.And, to your point, a lot of this probably has to do with your recruiting objectives. For example, if I am a start-up I want to know that my CFO candidate has proven connectivity to Angel Investors, VCs, proven entrepreneurs, and other financial opportunities. Maybe this would not be as critical to an executive search for the next GE CFO.All the same I love the transparency and opportunities it has given me as a start-up CEO. In past ventures we spent a ton on “recruiting” and brought in a fair share of “duds” with the “studs.”Bottom line: You’re right it is not necessarily a complete solution, but it is pretty promising.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          To your “bottom line” comment: Amazingly so!

  21. Magnus Wikegård

    I just got recruited mainly by my Linkedin profile. Then there were several interviews and finally an offer. I usualy get some calls/mails now and then from recruiters finding their way from Linkedin and such. This time the offer was good enough. My references also appear on my contacts list of course.I did my research on the company to monitor their presence on social and other networks and actually found some connections there already. I think it is a very useful tool for all parties in a recruitment.I should say that i dont add/invite people I dont know at LInkedin. All my contacts should already in some way have a professional relation to me otherwise I use other social networks for that.

  22. Dan Finnigan

    Every manager and HR staffing professional knows the best talent comes from employee referrals. The proliferation of – and engagement with – social and professional networks offers companies the opportunity to find and attract the best talent. Let the people who have already shown up at your company help out with recruiting by taking advantage of the social network that every company has – the network of their own employees and partners. People who like working at a company are enthusiastic and credible advocates for recruiting more talent like themselves.Now, with the right tools, employees can both broadly distribute jobs to the right audience through their employee networks on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – as well as target their opportunities based on people’s profiles.Jobvite – the company I joined after running Hotjobs for 5 years and being on the CareerBuilder Board for three before that – is helping many companies take full advantage of this new paradigm in recruiting. We have a customer, Total Attorneys in Chicago, that now makes close to 70% of all of their hires through employee social networks using Jobvite’s platform. And, Indeed, Twitter and LinkedIn are three of the leading technology companies who also use our platform to manage their hiring and social recruiting.As much as I love what job boards have done – and do – to help people find opportunities, it is clear to me that the ease with which people can now share their job opportunities quickly and easily with the right people is transforming on-line recruiting.Dan [email protected]

    1. Glenn Fox

      The model of “social recruiting” is evolving and I think what Jobvite does is very cool and innovative. As a former head of recruiting I agree that tapping into social and professional networks – especially those of employees – is a great way to generate candidate flow. BUT, there is a Catch 22 here.Generating candidates and screening as to their fit are 2 entirely different things. Recruiters still have to manually go thru those resumes – so, the more candidates that are generated by way of social media, the more work for the recruiter. Direct employee referrals, while often times helpful, can also bog down the recruiting process as there is a higher sense of obligation to engage with that candidate, even when he/she is not even close to being qualified.I’ve tried to address these issues with my company, BusinessElite. We’ve integrated the social sourcing process into an end-2-end recruiting platform that also uses matching and assessment technologies. You can view a video on this here are only at the tip of the recruiting iceberg on the concept of Social Recruiting. Obviously I, and I am sure Dan, believe there is huge potential for social recruiting to change how companies recruit.

  23. feargallkenny

    I am a freshly minted recruiter who comes from a social media background. In a recent post you questioned the opportunity cost of startups taking time out from valuable core activities to go to conferences. Not surprisingly, I believe the same principles apply to a lot internal recruiting efforts. Of course some parallel internal recruitment efforts make sense but in justifying their exclusive use there is often a tendency to focus on outside recruiters rates and not to look at the true Total Cost of Ownership of internal efforts including the opportunity cost.The new tools are great for internal and external recruiters alike but the hiring market will always need the extra human effort and very human motivations of quality, outside search firms to make it truly efficient. I don’t think you will disagree with that last statement so maybe an interesting angle for you in your presentation is your thoughts on the right balance of internal and external search efforts over the life cycle of a firm and your criteria for going outside for a search for your portfolio firms? I would certainly appreciate hearing

    1. fredwilson

      I’m not sure I know the answer to that

      1. glennfox

        I’ve worked in a boutique search firm, worked at a top retained search firm and helped built internal executive recruiting at 2 top tech companies. I am of the belief that top, industry leading companies should rarely need to use external recruiting (ie. retained or contingency search firms). In fact, that is the reason many top companies have brought exec recruiting in-house and have hired former top search firm recruiters.At Microsoft we had 4 criteria for using outside search firms:1. Niche positions – low frequency, high complexity positions (ie. distinguished engineers, very specialized scientific positions, etc.)2. Limited Bandwidth – when our internal team simply did not have the time to effectively execute the search.3. International – at the time we did not have an international exec recruiting team, so we used the services of top firms in the regions to help execute the search. Microsoft recently created a small team in the UK to lead international exec recruiting.4. Confidential Searches – those infrequent times when you wanted “plausible deniability” when targeting direct competitors – or – strategic partners (obviously MSFT wouldn’t want to tick off Dell by recruiting a key executive).At AOL we rarely used outside search firms. We did, however, use outside research firms to help identify candidate prospects and to augment internal resources.

  24. Paul Higgins

    Fred I think this is a great way for medium sized not for profit organisations to recruit. We keep talking to these organisations about how they can incraese value while reducing costs rather than one or the other. Social recruiting is one way of doing that – they should get better results and their costs are significantly reduced.Paul

  25. Kevin

    Friend is looking for a job. I suggested she use LinkedIn – she needed to sign up. She did. Found a job that really excited her – but she didn’t know anyone there even indirectly. Realized a friend of mine might have a connection to the company so I Facebooked her, then emailed her. Not sure how it will play out … but the degrees of separation are shrinking.

  26. andreyap

    Prodding my Asia BODirectors to go full-on recruiting US B-Schools – here’s another way to do it.

  27. Prokofy

    So basically what you’re saying, when it comes to finding a job, it’s not what you know, but who you know, and social media merely amplifies and accelerates that old truism. When your comfort level with “who you know” is saturated, you then hire that person who feels like they fit in your tribe.I personally feel all that’s a step back from modernity and the merit-based approach in society of the last 50-100 years that progressed us out of agricultural-based villages where everyone knew everyone else.But if this system gave you good, productive employees it would be hard to fault it.

  28. jennifermagnano

    Thank you for a great post on the power of social media in the staffing industry! It is absolutely amazing how the face of recruiting has changed its shape so drastically over the last few years. I remember when I began recruiting in the health care field, and MySpace came out. It made finding a particular person, with a specific background easier- but also altered the process quite a bit. Suddenly, judgments could be made based solely upon a person’s online profile. I am glad that sites like LinkedIn have established a safer ground for online social networking, while providing a safe atmosphere to express a professional image.