Adoption of Social Media by Recruitment Firms

A year ago we briefly explored the uptake of social media to source talent. Overall, we found, organisations were slow to adopt social media; only a minority (35%) used it in some form or another to recruit new staff.

However, the picture is slightly different when we separate usage by different groups – recruiters, HR/Internal recruiters and Business Owners/Line Managers. The assumption that recruitment firms are generally oblivious to social media is not entirely accurate. It turns out agency recruiters are embracing social media at a much higher rate than their corporate and HR counterparts. A majority (53%) said they used social media in some form to source candidates. In comparison, 79% of corporate recruiters had not not used social media to source talent.


The latest survey by RCSA appears to complement our findings.  The RCSA’s sample size is not large, but it reveals some interesting insights into the adoption of social media by recruitment firms. It appears that many recruitment firms are either actively using social media or are very positive about its adoption in the future.

How Social Media is Used: Not surprisingly, the RCSA survey found that social media is predominantly used for sourcing candidates; 45% of recruitment firms say they used it for ‘candidate sourcing’ (refer chart 1). Given that the popularity of LinkedIn amongst recruiters is well documented, it is highly likely that recruiters equate the use of LinkedIn as synonymous to using social media. Still, it appears recruiters are a lot more savvier than the credit they get.

Interestingly, 20% of recruiters are using social media to source new clients, while 27% gather new information. Much of the discussions in the recruitment sector focuses on using social media to source talent, often ignoring its value in identifying new clients. To a large degree candidates are bought using middle-men like job boards, but clients need to be earned.  My hunch is in the near future references to social media will increasingly be about its application to client outreach as much as it is about sourcing candidates.


Sourcing candidates: While Job Boards continue to play a dominant role in the sourcing of candidates, social networks sites featured prominently as a sourcing channel (refer chart 2).

Part of the reason job boards continue to be relevant is because they do all the hard work in acquiring candidates. Recruiters buy candidates data in bulk and do the sorting, a process practiced effectively for years. However, attention cannot be bought when it comes to social media. The onus is entirely on recruiters to figure out what works.

There is little doubt that recruiters are either actively using or dabbling in social media. Increased activity, however, does not equates to better results. It’s clear that once the dust settles the next phase in the social media journey will be about getting results.


(note: chart 1 & 2 from RCSA survey)

2 replies
  1. Steve Ludlow
    Steve Ludlow says:

    As a recruitment business in the sales and marketing space, we've filled 25% of our jobs through social media this past 12 months. I was interviewed and asked about how we did this on The Social Sofa, a video series about social media in recruitment. Here's the video link

    • Phillip Tusing
      Phillip Tusing says:

      Hi Steve, that’s really impressive. I think early adopters have a lot to gain, including learning what’s not working.


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