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Social Media Recruiter: WTF Is That?

Hold on a moment..... Nope, one more second.....

Sorry, I was trying to pull out the pen I shoved in my ear after hearing from a CEO who I have known for years say that a “consultant” suggested his recruiting team needed to hire a “Social Media Recruiter”.

My reply (and this is a direct quote), “WTF is a Social Media Recruiter?”

“I don’t know” said my CEO friend “but I am told I need one.”

Oh for the love of the Internet...

I cannot remember to the late 90’s was there such a thing as a “Job Board Recruiter”? I hope not and if there was it clearly did not last long.

“Job Board Recruiter” sounds absurd, right?

So does “Social Media Recruiter”.

The CEO forwarded on to me the recommendations about hiring a “Social Media Recruiter” which included:

- Facebook Fan Page experience

- Ability to create video

- Demonstrated ability to create a Twitter following

Absent from the job description were things like:

- Ability to cold call

- Qualifying candidates to required skill sets

- Experience in using job boards, LinkedIn, newsletters, RSS feeds, referrals, etc

I went through the roof. The CEO said, “Paul you are one of the Kool Aid drinkers when it comes to this social stuff” to which I replied “Yes I am but in part as a tool to find/create talent pools/communities, develop/further relationships and allow people to get to know me from the hundreds of search firm and corporate recruiters.”

And here is the kicker...

“I use these tools to limit the awkward, coldness to phone calls and email. You guys still talk to candidates on the phone, right?”

There was silence.

Apparently one can be a “Social Media Recruiter” without any skills that recruiters must have like talking on the phone and meeting people.

I guess I can just post content all day that will over a period of time attract candidates who without any interaction with me will be excited about an opportunity, send me their resume and be ready to leave their current company.

Damn, now that’s my kind of job!!! I never knew recruiting could be so simple.

What the “consultant” should have suggested (if they were to give an opinion like this) was said that the CEO needed to hire someone in Marketing as clearly there is no recruiting involved or needed.

But that would have been too obvious and not worth the $15,000 that this audit and recommendations cost or the hourly fee that the “consultant” would charge for providing this service.

Yes I strongly believe that having an online presence is needed by everyone (or at least go where the folks are hanging out) but it looks like some “consultants” have crossed the line into the snake oil salesman category and promising things they cannot deliver on.

What a bunch of crap.


Brian Long

From a 20-year-old's perspective, I know can say that I know what you mean. It's sort of like saying that you know how to work Microsoft Office on your resume.

I'll admit it: I've considered positions where all I would do is online stuff, but that doesn't seem super appealing to me. I am probably part of the small fraction of people my age that looks forward to meeting (new) people in person and feels comfortable calling people on the phone.

I work at the CLA Career Services at the U of M, and I see this stuff all of the time. Students are too afraid to follow up or do informational interviews and would rather apply online and wait for a call (I digress, I know) - that's not how everyone works. Although it is, like you said, important to have your business or organization online, it's those real life, in-person meetings and relationships that count.

I sort of went off on a tangent; but, yes, I totally know what you mean and I can relate. I may only be 20, but I still like the 'old school' way of doing things.

Jeremy Roberts

I totally agree! Social Media can't take the place of the core recruiting skills we all need to have to make it in this business! I am a "kool aid drinker" as well but if we don't reach out and get back to the fundamentals of recruiting it's all wasted time.


So, I read the job description and was fully prepared to leave a comment that your CEO friend sounds like s/he needs a marketer or a PR person more than a recruiter - and then I continued reading and saw you already suggested that :) You should read Amber Naslund's latest article, 5 Age Old Issues We Blame on Social Media - http://www.brasstackthinking.com/2010/07/5-age-old-issues-we-blame-on-social-media/. Sadly this type of behavior isn't anything new, but like you said social media is a tool to facilitate warm fuzzy PERSONAL interaction. Conversations must be had at some point in time, whether on the phone or in person.

Incidentally, I'd LOVE to know who the 'consultant' was ;)

Keith Privette

That is like saying I need a Social Media Heart Surgeon. You did provide your friend some solid advice about what they need. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a Senior Recruitment Manager about building community, having a strategy about following and followers, having conversations to attract a wide range of people, and it takes time energy and effort just like calling and emailing people to meet and validate candidates.

Then I wanted to see if this was sinking in and I said there are tools out there to get 50,000 followers in a month.....paused let him see the difference then he "Yeah can you teach me how to do that"....WTF I thought and did not say. Instead I told him that type activity is not looked upon to well and advised him this is not the approach I would take to be successful using social media to connect with potential talent for immediate needs or long term potential needs.

Tell your friend to call me, might be able to get she or he some actual return on their investment, me I gots no snake oil, in fact I don't even know what snake oil is?!

Michael Goldberg (aka superrecruiter)

so...are you applying LOL

Teresa Boardman

This is a wonderful post. I see other businsses trying the same approach with social media and it works just as well as hiring a social media recruiter.

Albert Maruggi

Yup, this day was bound to come. It's a wedge issue, "I'm a social media expert" chest pounding. An ambitious competitor, probably someone in your/our community, trying to position themselves in a niche. That's OK it's a free, competitive country. And you are equally free to call BULL.

CEO almost bought it. It's not a niche, knowing how to use social media is no more than staying on top of the tools of your trade. I didn't follow why with all of your work staying on top of the tools and teaching others how they work, why the CEO wouldn't respond, "Oh I know MN headhunter, he's got that covered"

But I've seen that before. A person for years can work with podcasting, video, blogging, twitter but without packaging it into a strategy, even though all of those elements were strategically applied, and putting a big price tag on it is not viewed as a "strategist"

Kool aid? you? come on. N, you are as level headed as most people who are well grounded in the realities of this changing world, not blindly going off into the "social media recruiting" business. If anyone is drinking Kool Aid it's the CEO, and the "consultant" is spiking the punch.

Jim Durbin

I imagine the situation is as you say, but I have to admit, I placed a social media recruiter last year.

It's not a social media headhunter, which places people in social media jobs, but is instead a marketing person inside a recruiting team whose job is to build those communities of interest and brand a company inthe places online where candidates can be found.

Recruiters often don't have the skills to be both social media experts and recruiting process experts. In some businesses, like those with a fixed population of hires (those requiring licenses, for example), such a position is thoroughly justified and cost effective.

In fact, in light of the still poor use of social media by most recruiting departments, a social media recruiter/sourcer/trainer/marketer would be a welcome addition.

Of course, finding the person and paying them is a different story.

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