How To Get ROI From Social Recruiting and Social Media

social_recruitingI consult with recruiters in social media, social recruiting and recruitment technology.  The number 1 question I get from directors and leaders of recruitment teams and third party agencies is often:

“How do I get ROI from social media?”

…and my answer is often, simply, “what “I” are you making?”

Their answer is often zero – or, maybe, “I’ve bought some LinkedIn Recruiter Licenses”.

That’s just not good enough – how can any recruiter expect to get something back without appropriate investment?

The “State” of the Union between Recruitment and Technology

I really see social media as technology – and technology only works when it is used at the right time for the right reason.

This is what I often see (too often, in fact) in the recruitment agency and third party staffing market:

  • Online tools given to recruiters with little or no training
  • Assumptions by the management that they are too old to get technology, so the “young’uns” can cope – it’s in their genes (as @StephenOdonn says “bunkum”)
  • Downloaded, misunderstood social media policies designed to give comfort to Directors and IT Departments, whilst often demoralising the workforce (and on the whole being almost impossible to enforce day to day… but wait until you get to court and then it gets exciting!)
  • New grads/interns with mice delivering community manager style roles without the necessary training, experience or strategic insight
  • Misbranded companies, led from the front by misbranded recruiters – all with their own unclear objectives and outcomes – expecting massive engagement from passive communities who could really care less
  • Agencies not demonstrating how to recruit their own staff (so why should I believe they can do it for me?)

…and the over-riding goal for their social media strategy? To make money.  What else?

Little Money Spent – Too Much Time Wasted

When did it become ok in recruitment to waste time without being able to qualify the outcome?  I’ve been in recruitment since 2000, and it never used to be that way.  Yes, some recruiters needed Sellotape to keep them on the phone (really!) but we studied phone calls / meetings and came up with magical formulas which gave us the confidence to yell “get on the phone” when things went quiet in the office.

Now it seems that the recruiter’s world (and recruiter experience – see previous blog) is littered with loads of “cool tools” and the outcome has massively disrupted the workflow and visibility of the process.  But the pressure to get ROI has increased.

A Shopping List to Guarantee Social Recruiting ROI

  1. Train your staff – Sorry, this is obvious, I know.  Please dump the assumption that young people get it.  I am recruiting an undergraduate for an intern role, and trust me, they don’t necessarily get it.  And neither will recruiters with busy desks and more tech than they know what to do with.
  2. Invest in your CRM – Your overall goal is to place more people in more jobs, right?  Review your CRM’s capability to log social engagement (in the very least ask it to track source of candidates, clients and vacancies) – and don’t forget that the source of the candidate may differ from their eventual source of application to their placed role.
  3. Get some measurement tools – How can you possibly measure ROI when you don’t scrutinize?  Recruiters (sweeping statement) are not measuring the real stats behind social  and digital recruitment.  Who cares how many followers you have if you are following double that?
  4. LinkedIn Recruiter Licenses – This is not a pitch on behalf of this software (I have blogged about this before), rather a shout out to firms who need to think about at least understanding the product before they make statements like “it’s too expensive”.  These are often the firms who want to make money from social… I have clients on the product who happily renew and are evangelical about it!  I equally have clients who are not ready for it yet – but at least they know what it is and the value it could be.
  5. Dump the Old School Print Advertising – get digital people – 73% of LinkedIn searches happen on a mobile – mobile devices (and mobile candidates) are crap at reading “my client is, yada yada yada” job ads.
  6. A strategic social media manager – More and more recruiters are hiring community managers or social media interns.  Please, please think about what their outcomes are/should be.  Young marketers ticking boxes and spamming tweets are not going to deliver ROI.  Be better.
  7. I could go on… Another blog, methinks?

What’s Your Ideal Social Recruiting ROI?

What are your expectations? In old money, we knew that making 150 calls would get x contacts =  x meetings = x jobs.

What’s changed?  Well, the theoretical candidate shortage (or “talent gap,” if you like) has shifted the focus away from client and client engagement (apparently recruiters have enough clients?!) to candidates; hence we are now spending more time online spamming candidates – or “sourcing” them, as most think of it these days. And of course, this activity seems unmeasurable.

Build What your Clients Can’t

Building communities is a totally visible (and pretty rewarding) thing… and even your clients can see it (and they can measure your effectiveness in this area).  Have a strategy around gathering ideal talent around you – not a silver bullet for today, but an effective weapon to add to your arsenal for tomorrow.

Hence, my view?  Your ROI should reflect the ‘I’ – what actual investment are you making? Can you measure what you are doing?  And are your expectations of what social recruiting can do realistic?  Are you looking at long term goals or short term tactics?


Lisa Jones
About the Author: 
Lisa Jones is a Director of Barclay Jones, a consultancy working with agency recruiters on their recruitment technology and social media strategies. Prior to Barclay Jones. Lisa worked in a number of Recruitment, IT, Web and Operations director-level roles. She is a technology and strategy junkie with keen eyes on the recruitment and business process.

You’ll see Lisa speaking at many recruitment industry events and being a recruitment technology and social media evangelist online. She works with some of the large recruitment firms, as well as the smaller, agile boutique agencies.

You can follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaMariJones or connect with her on LinkedIn.



  • http://www.myoptimind.com/seo-philippines/ SEO Philippines

    You got all the points Lisa! :)
    Doing those things you've suggested, I can guarantee marketers that they can get ROI from social media.

  • http://all4webs.com/b/w/howseoservicesshouldfocus/home.htm?21143=5377 aminta

    You got all the factors Lisa! :)
    Doing those techniques you've recommended, I can assurance promoters that they can get ROI from public networking.


InsightSquared - Recruiting Daily - 728x90 - 05