How to Drive Real Results from Social Recruiting


In this video, Pat Wadors, SVP, Global Talent Organization at LinkedIn, talks about how recruiters can use social media to engage with candidates, nurture talent pools, and drive a successful social recruiting strategy.

Watch this on-demand webinar now to learn:

  • How to increase affinity for your company and opportunities among candidates via social media
  • Ways in which to understand, expand and leverage your talent brand
  • How to develop measurable success metrics to demonstrate your results
  • The impact of a successful social recruiting strategy on talent pool identification & engagement, growth rate, and hiring conversion
  • How social recruiting works at LinkedIn, and the results the company is seeing from its social recruiting program


Let’s get started everyone, shall we? All right. So today what am I going to talk about? I’m going to talk about how to drive real results through social media. I’m going to mix a little bit about what we do here at LinkedIn. A little bit of what I look at in terms of just overall social recruiting, social connection, why that matters to us, and how we look at talent in that space. And just some tips and tricks that you guys might want to take away from in terms of how you show up on your social media and how you will look at talent and recruitment talent going forward.

Next, what exactly is social recruiting? Social recruiting is a data-driven process, a lot of rich data out there. We need to leverage our candidates in on our own network, so really understand the connected workforce. The gold nugget here is the third element. It’s eliminating cold calls. If you can eliminate a cold call, the chances of your success and having someone return that message to engage with you in a conversation goes up about 86%. It’s significant. Eliminating cold calls never should happen again once you understand the power of social recruiting. Nurturing those pools of talent. What if you get a sense of who’s out there in the world, but you don’t need them quite yet, what do you do? How do you bridge them into your culture, your company, your insights? How do you make them more interested? How do you increase what I call the affinity for the company and to your opportunities, that’s nurturing.

Next element, expanding and leveraging your talent brand. Understanding how you show up in the marketplace by different media posts. How do you understand what Glassdoor is saying about you as a company? How people are talking about your culture? How you recruit? What’s it like on boarding a company x, y and z? What’s it like in terms of performance management? Understanding your talent brand is really, really important to you as a recruiter, and making sure that you get a sense of that authenticity so you can share the same story, right? You definitely want to be authentic, so understand it and leverage it and improve it where you can. And then measurable metrics of success. There’s ways in which we can measure our success in social recruiting and from a business perspective you get more funding, more support, obviously, when you track your numbers, right? You can demonstrate your results. They’ll reinforce your behavior in the social media.

What’s next from that? It is social media has change the game of recruiting. It has completely changed our behavior. If you look at the millennial workforce going into 2020, they will be the largest workforce in our history. In the United States alone, about 91 million people in that generation will be in our workforce. They are the first digital natives in our history. They are fluid on so many different sites and have no barrier to change. They explore media sites, they explore connectivity, they are most live when they’re on their multiple devices. Be it a laptop, a smartphone, a desktop and they get influenced by their peers, consistently. So how they make decisions, how they connect, it’s all through social media. Their network is beyond their four walls, beyond their university, beyond their current employer. Reaching those candidates at the right time on the right network with the right message is extremely important to know where you’re navigating.

Social media plays a role in the hiring funnel. We talk about it, we talk to our new college grads about it and say be aware how you show up. I talk to the new grads and say make sure no red cups, make sure when you put in your LinkedIn profile picture in there it shows your face. I can identify you and get the sense of who you are. It’s not a party happening in the background. It’s not Facebook in that sense. Be aware of how you show up as a candidate but also recruiters are looking at that. We use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, everything to understand how you navigate the organization, what your level of interests are, how you connect with other social beings. And it creates an awareness, and can engage with you on these different platforms. We create leads and we hire. Understanding that playbook, if you will, of the media creates a strategy and success criteria for you.

Let’s think about this a little bit further in the standpoint of the power of network. Even though recruiters use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter I’ll go to that a little bit on those verticals, take a case in India, recently. When you look at how the next generation is applying for jobs and where they will apply. It comes from word of mouth in their Facebook pages from their parents. Which cultures, which support they like, how they endorse that company, that culture, where they will feel proud to work. Understanding your talent brand on Facebook really matters when it’s coming from a connected family unit in that culture. If you look at what people are saying and what’s real time in the marketplace and feeling like you’re in the conversation and in the here and now, that’s not aged data. Twitter is very, very relevant for that workforce as well.

Being sensitive to where these employees are being found, how they navigate, what generation they play in, and what culture they belong in will influence which vertical, which platform they engage on in terms of their recruiting, their prospects, how they look for employers. From a recruiter point of view you use social networks at each stage of your funnel. It’s taking the place of job boards. It’s taking the place, obviously, from the newspaper. For LinkedIn you search for candidates, you contact them, you send them in mails, you keep tabs on them, you see what’s happening in their career path. You might run some analytics, they’ll post jobs etc. On Facebook again showing your employer brand, I reference the India case, you can generate employee referrals also through Facebook, post jobs, [inaudible 00:06:23] candidates and get a sense of them before you even interview them.

On Twitter, again it’s about the brand. It’s about posting jobs and referrals and contacting new candidates. We all have in mind that someone can be on all three verticals at any one time and are they authentic in each one, do they show the same face, are they the person that you think would fit into your culture? As a recruiter, as a hiring manager, I care about these things so you feel like their LinkedIn profile is highly professional. They’ve taken time to demonstrate their knowledge, their history, their successes. They’ve told you a little bit about them, but you may not get a sense of their personality deeply as you would if you visited their Facebook page or saw them in other locations as well and how they tweet and what interests they have on the Twitter account and their feed.

Be conscience of your talent brand, be conscious of your culture and figure out how these top recruits are looking and portraying themselves on these different verticals. So as recruiters engage literally, engage often and go across to multiple platforms.

If your interested, let me pause here really quick for you guys. I’m going a little bit fast. I want to make sure if you have any questions, comments, insights, they can do #talent insights and share on the site whenever you have a question or try to reach me at @waders which is my Twitter feed and I’ll be happy to answer any question or take any feedback you have. So I think this is a really, really important skill set. It goes from a candidate perspective as well as a recruiter’s perspective, because it changes the game of your company. If you can navigate and hire the best talent pool for your company in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of money spent, the more viable your company will end up being. Let’s be conscious of all the big side and upside for this, but if you questions, feedback, better alternatives, please share, we’re all learning.

All right. So let’s continue. Social recruiting in practice, please get rid of the cold call. I think that people show you on social selling and social recruiting, it’s that moment of introduction. I get pinned all the time now saying, hey, I hear you met with Christy. I used to work with her at Align Technology. What do you think, can you introduce me? I’d really like to talk to Christy about potential recruiter role at LinkedIn. I will take the time. I remember Christy. I’ll send Christy an in mail, and Christy’s chance of remembering me and responding back to me, like I said earlier, 86% higher. So the response rate from a warm connection, a warm introduction is significant.

Now when you reach out into these social recruiting practices, be clear about a few of these people meet your minimum bar of your qualities. Do you think they’ll be a cultural fit? Screen that from their current employment, if you’re doing a warm introduction or someone you’ve work for. And making sure that you get the right data, but that warm introduction to your company and why you have your interests, and why they are special and why they matter to you as a prospective employer, is what gets them excited. They feel special, that’s why social recruiting is a more personal, intimate dialogue with that potential candidate and your response again will go up.

Let’s talk about the impact of that if we do this right. Why do we social recruit at LinkedIn? Well, it is the business that we’re in, obviously. It increases engagement in critical talent pools. We convert these talent into hires. It helps flow our growth rate for sure. The identification and optimization of key talent pools. If you’re looking for that unicorn, the purple squirrel, that unique human being, you can actually search in the database and come up with a source of talent. And say okay, there’s 15 of them and they’re spread in these locations or within these types of companies in this industry. They are solid in their career path. They’ve been in their current companies XYZ years. This person may or may not be open for relocation etc., etc. You really get to understand their availability at this pool and that changes the conversation with your business.

Let me go and talk about an example I had two years ago at LinkedIn. We were looking for someone to run our operations for LinkedIn, our IT or data center network, etc. And we scoured the market and our database and saying how many animals that do this at our scale and our growth rate at a global level. And where we thought there would be tons and tons of candidates out there because it’s a global market etc., etc., we found relatively few, in terms of what we’re looking at, and the growth rate, and the kind of systems that we were supporting. And the talent pool, where my manager, the CEO, and the technology leader thought that I had hundreds in which we court, ended up being about 15 people. We could identify them by name, where they were, and how they were connected or not connected to LinkedIn non-employee base. And we took that information, I shared with my CTO and with my CEO and became a robust dialogue about time to fill. Can we truly get this purple squirrel?

There’s 15 of them. What do we do with them? Is our spec the right spec? Maybe we have to change how we’re looking at the criteria of that candidate. Maybe we should shift something and increase our feeder pool by X. Can we teach something versus buy it? Those are the kinds of conversations that we’re having now with the business leaders and setting expectations carefully. So we know the position will be open for longer or shorter periods of time. The criticality of the role, can we change it, morph it a little bit and learn from the marketplace. It also helps us understand the affinity of this talent pool to LinkedIn. So if we have, let’s use another example, 150 people, maybe 3,000 people in the world that fit our criteria that we think are the apex of skills, quality and cultural settings, but we don’t know them or they don’t know us very well, and we segment them.

I want to make sure that we increase what we are calling affinity, their interest in LinkedIn and to our employees, because if they know more people that work at LinkedIn, the chances of them accepting an interview, accepting a role goes up. We really care about that affinity rating, how we’re connected, and changing that trajectory for any company. So I’ll give you a sneak peak in what we do at LinkedIn. Here is some inside access to the analytics. The scatter box, I know it’s an eye chart, forgive me, but I was trying to show you in one slide, demonstrate to you the complexity and availability of analytics when you’re looking at social recruiting. And you can look at affinity, you can see connection, you can see your talent brand. You can see how many people inside the company are connected to them, and you can start creating a strategy around the affinity about how you reach out to them the content. How do you increase the number of connections and outreaches?

Maybe one of you can write a white paper and send it out to these 15 select individuals and really get them excited and jazzed about the future technology work that we’re doing in our company. There’s so many different ways you can do that, but this data access that we have and that you can get and can run all different types of queries on it, tells you as you’re brand honest, you know what you say outside is what it feels like inside. Are you connected to the talent that you need to find, and if not can you create ambassadors that reach out and create a better connection to that talent pool, and you can use all those various social media sites. Again, you can tweet about what’s happening in your company, you can post on LinkedIn, you can write a blog and connect to people on Facebook. There’s just so many different variations you can do but being conscious with how you show up matters.

This is complex. That’s the Cadillac of data, I get it, but what can you do that’s easy? What can you walk away with and go back to your company and say I’m going to do this differently? Well, here’s what you can do. You can do an easy analysis on the TAM. It’s your total addressable market. This is the way in which companies go into social recruiting. They look at the two by two box, they look at the size of the pool, of the talent, the capabilities of that talent, and they identify the minimum threshold of criteria and how closely linked they are to the company. And so that would be your apex. So you look at the affinity and you look at the quality of the candidate pool. And then you vet this group of prospects with your leaders and your organization and say okay, low affinity not as strong on the quality of the candidate but meets the minimum threshold to high bar quality, high affinity.

And you create a strategy in which to reach out to that top right box, and say okay what am I going to do for them? I’m going to reach out to, connect with them, send them warm in mails let them know that I’m interested in them. Just see where they are in their career. You know hi how’s it going? I haven’t seen you in six years. I saw your LinkedIn profile. You’re doing some amazing things. You know, what’s up? You know, let’s have a conversation. And you have to court these people, right? You have to slowly bring them in, and some are accelerated because you got them right in the right moment. Some of them take longer, but if your a growth company, having a little longer tail isn’t a problem, but the problem is when you don’t have candidate pool. The total adjustable market you can see your market, you can see if your spec is right, you can leverage the insights of these employee basis, and say okay how can I get my message across?

What vehicles with social media platforms I can use to get my message across, and then where is the resume, am I increasing follower-ship, am I increasing engagement with the company? Are more people signing to my group etc., etc. You get a higher conversion rate of those employees, like I said. What is the ROI? How do you sell this to your company? How do sell this in terms of your level of focus? Seventy-three percent of companies hired successfully with social media. It’s what we’re doing, right, again, let’s go back to that millennial generation. They’re on social media, you got to find them where they live. Forty-two percent of companies say that the candidate quality has improved, because they’re able to position and look and scan those resumes and their history and get referrals, get a more richer insight into that human being.

Twenty percent of companies say it takes less time to hire with social recruiting. They have higher affinity with a company, higher affinity with employees, know the hiring manager, that’s the sweet spot, chances are they know what they’re walking into, right? They’re going to want to come work for you, that’s a win-win. Thirty-one percent of companies saw an increase in employee referrals. If they know what they’re getting into and they post and they’re sharing their stories on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, and they’re explaining how they’re transforming their careers and getting these cool gigs, then other friends of theirs will sign up, and say hey I’m interested in your company. You know make sure that this message is coming out. Encourage your employees to blog and to post and to share their journey. That only helps you and it’s cheap branding.

Sixty-five percent of recruiters compensate employees for referrals, so your average Joe employee can also make some money on the side by doing a great referral candidate. Referral candidates stick longer. They tend to have a better sticking factor to any company. They don’t turn over as quickly as others, that you don’t know about their cultural fit They know the team they’re walking into. It’s harder to move them out of your company. The more connected they are to their community, the harder it is for them to leave. There are other numbers that you can be tracking that measures your social recruiting success for example cost per hire, referral rate, number of applications, quality of hire. I recruited this person, they exceeded the spec the expectations of the job requirements. I hope that they come in, I’m betting they come in and do more than the job, and so they would be a high performer. They will be promoted faster, etc. You can look at these metrics once they’re inside the company.

Time to hire, again if you’ve been courting and nurturing this talent pool for a while and they have connective tissue within your employee base, when you pull the trigger and say we have an opening, they’re ready. And your turnover rate, right, you’ve created that community. You created that nice space for them to work. They have their friends working around them. They know the culture very well. The chances of them picking up their head and looking elsewhere is reduced. They’re excited for this.

So a recent case study that we had throughout LinkedIn and talk to with my recruiters is the NPR case, when we’ve shared with them the TAM, and we used the TAM approach for some critical engineering hiring, as well as some sales leadership hiring. So we’ve been testing this theory out to see if we can reduce time to hire, cost, affinity, etc. It’s been paying off. Let’s see what happened with a customer. Situation. NPR, strong consumer brand, built on trust and loyalty. The employee experience is really good. They have interesting assignments and diverse workforce. It feels really good to be there. The challenge however for NPR was that they were competing against blue chip companies, high tech companies like Google, Intuit, Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, and they were non-profit, so how do they shine against this platform? How do they create their voice and their brand so they would attract the millennial, they can attract the engineering community?

So the execution, they launched recruiting efforts across social media platforms to track the millennial candidates in tech and digital industries. That was their target. They went after that and we guided them. Now here’s what’s interesting for NPR case study. Millennials, 55% of millennials look for mission based companies, 55% of millennials, when they are interviewed, ask what do you stand for, how do you impact with the community in which you work? How do you help a human beings? How do you help the world? NPR had a great story to tell. With intent, they cleared their page on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. They increased their follow-ship. They increased engagement, in terms of monthly visitors, increased the applicant flow. You can see the numbers right here on the case study. The talent brand was higher. The New York Times, CNN, ABC, and the Washington Post, in terms of how they showed up on LinkedIn.

They crafted a great story. They really, really did. Results, over a hundred thousand savings per year based on reduction in job boards. Now it may not seem a lot to some us in larger companies, but a hundred k savings for a non-profit, that’s a big deal. So every dollar donated to NPR goes to the right places. It doesn’t go into recruiting. I think that’s smart money. Social media channels, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, are up in the top 10 sources of applicants and hires. They’re the go-to. If you’re not there, where are you? That would be the foundational set and be creative outside that core. And there are several key hires through Twitter in this example. They were the number fourth source of hire through Twitter. So number three was LinkedIn, number seven was Facebook, and number four for source of hire. So it’s a pretty, pretty awesome upstanding results. So yay, NPR.

LinkedIn’s doing this gig. We believe in it. What are we seeing? So we tried it out in engineering. It became a thought process that we had in 2013 about the TAM. We implemented it in 2014. We took a really hard to fill jobs and said what can we do. The SRE’s, for example, at LinkedIn are one of the hard to fill jobs for us [inaudible 00:22:37] we competed. We made 18 plus hires in engineering just by using the TAM. Over 500 sources and insights gathered in terms of what their looking for and how we recruit and where can we find them. We got very deliberate in our thought process. Response rates to warm introductions is 85%, like I said. If you’re writing to me and you and I know each other, I’m going to listen. I’ll respond. And top 25 customers average in mail response rate is 30%, 30.6% to be exact, so that response rate, warm introduction is the game changer. No more call cold calls, no more just blanket in mails going hey we’re hiring. Be intentional, be thoughtful.

What’s free that you can do today? I don’t like to make things complex. I like the pragmatic point of view. What can you do today? You’re a recruiter. You’re sitting there at your desktop. Well, define your market, you know, to fit your talent needs. Define what your skill sets are. What is the minimum threshold and the ideal threshold of skills? If you were to brainstorm that you know meets these criteria, would you hire them? Answer should be yes. If you get that threshold, then you have a differentiate on top of that threshold and you look at their affinity to your company, their personal passion in your company and what you stand for. And the further along you push that affinity curve, the greater your success is in converting them to a hire. And now you’re going to map this talent need.

So look at your skill set, map out the relevant geographies and titles using LinkedIn recruiter. Do your search. Figure out how many apples and oranges are there in the marketplace and hone in on where you’re hiring that talent. Can you relocate them? Is that too expensive? If you’re a small company, and you’re [inaudible 00:24:27] location, then narrow your search. That’s fine, but be clear. Speak to your addressable talent market. Use trending content to post and share relevant information. Push white papers to them. Engage with them, connect with them. Create brand ambassadors in your company, so people that can connect with people that they used to work with. So maybe they’re not currently on LinkedIn or chatting with them on Twitter, maybe they should be. Maybe they should reach out. And new status updates to keep them engaged and active. Don’t overwhelm them, just enough to make them want to know more. It’s the balance in marketing skill set, technical knowledge, cultural insights, and feeling of warm fuzziness about I know people that work there. I can get the inside scoop.

Know your talent brand. I give this advice to all my peers. Your inside brand should be equal to and authentic to the external brand. If you say quality matters on your product, then quality should matter inside the company. Find out what your talent brand index is. Ask somebody. Ask LinkedIn. See how you show up. Find that brand index. Look at the companies that are higher and/or lower and figure out what differentiates you in the marketplace. And be clear about that because that’s authentic. This is what we promised. This is what’s different about us and/or this is what we can improve. This is within our domain to improve the experience of recruiting. We can get that better at follow through, can get better at on-boarding etc., etc. And request insights on your company from us. Be aware of the social dialogue happening. Look at those other social sites. Do word clouds. Figure out what they’re saying and how you’re being represented in the marketplace and in social media. Follow it. It’s hot. It’s real. Look at glass door.

It’s all there readily available to you and then again, and I keep repeating myself, that warm outreach, guys. Utilize LinkedIn to leverage your company’s network. Generate qualitative recommendations on the outreach making sure that if someone’s connected did they really know them. They might be connected because they worked with them. They may not know them. So make sure you reach out for them and get connected and nurture the direct video content on SlideShare. That’s a rich way in which to look at content.

In closing, why does this matter? It’s a connected world. The world is shrinking. Let’s go back to that millennial workforce. The largest workforce ever in our history by 2020. Today, LinkedIn is sitting around 70% millennials. How we recruit them, how we engage with them, and how we hire them really matters. And we’re a high growth company, so I’m going to spend a lot of time on these different social platforms making sure that our mission of LinkedIn, creating economic [inaudible 00:27:12], making sure they understand about LinkedIn for good, our diversion including outreach. How do we show up and how do we care for our employees? I look at our brand index to make sure that what we say outside mirrors inside, and I’ll listen to the chatter. I make myself available on all these social media sites to make sure I have a sense on how we’re showing up and teaching our recruiters this warm in mail. You connect and you do it with relationship and meeting, the chances of us getting a response back 85% The chances of converting to hire goes even higher.

So it matters. Get connected. See how you show up and you’ll be more wildly successful then you ever envisioned possible, but the key here is again the connection, making sure you understand how your brand is perceived out there in these different platforms as well as the communication back and increasing that affinity. Good luck with your social recruiting. It’s been my pleasure. You can follow me again at @wadors on Twitter and #talentinsights, should you have any questions, feedback to give me. I’m all ears. Thank you for the opportunity. Bye.