Survey: Social Networks Are Becoming Priority in Finding Skilled Workers


America’s recruiting leaders say their top priority this year is finding and hiring highly skilled workers, and the places they’re turning to find them with increasing urgency are social networks.

In the three years LinkedIn has surveyed talent acquisition leaders on their priorities and industry trends, the percentage of respondents who say professional social networks are the place to find “key quality hires” has gone from 29 percent to 42 percent. Social media now ties with the company career site as a candidate source, and both aren’t too far behind employee referral programs.

LinkedIn’s U.S edition of its 2013 Global Recruiting Trends survey shows American recruiting leaders to be not too different from leaders around the world. Both groups see the use of social media for sourcing talent as a long lasting trend; 36 percent for the U.S. compared to 39 percent globally.

More emphasis on employer branding

Americans, though, put much more emphasis on finding methods of sourcing passive candidates than do leaders elsewhere. On LinkedIn’s list of 10 trends, 37 percent of U.S. respondents rate it first, versus 27 percent of other leaders.

LI-survey-2013-sourcesGlobally, there’s a  significantly greater emphasis on employer branding. American recruiting leaders don’t discount it, but see “Being a strategic talent adviser to the business” as a trend of longer lasting value. As a priority for American leaders, branding falls at the bottom of their list.

The irony is though that what they fear the most is that the competition will start investing in building their brand.

According to LinkedIn, 85 percent believe the employer brand has “a significant impact on ability to hire great talent.” So they rated brand building by the competition first among the things the competition might do that would worry them the most.

Family & friends still important, too

Not surprisingly, recruiting leaders are coming to rely more and more on social and professional networks to promote their employer brand, and less — though still primarily — on the company website, and job boards. Rising 15 percent since just last year, online professional networks are considered the most effective way of promoting the brand by 54 percent.

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Family and friends — word of mouth — still holds its luster, with 61 percent of the talent leaders rating it as most effective.

For all this importance assigned to branding, and the worries about the competition suddenly kicking up its promotion, only about a third of the respondents track it in any meaningful way.

While analyzing online buzz can be costly, and “like” and “followers” are an imperfect metric, only 28 percent of U.S. recruiting leaders even bother to survey new hires about the brand significance. Oddly, more — 33 percent — say they measure their brand “relative to our competitors for talent.” What exactly that means and how they do it, isn’t part of the survey.

This article was originally published on our sister website,

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


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