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The average cost per hire in 2016 was $4,129. In addition, it took an average of 42 days to fill an open position. Figures like these leave no shadow of a doubt that the hiring process can be both expensive and time-consuming.

Not only that but if you hire the wrong person it can cost your company untold quantities of cash in the long run. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh estimated bad hires to have cost his company a staggering $100 million over the course of doing business.

As a solution to the hemorrhaging cost of bad hiring habits, many recruiters for large and small companies alike have turned to social media. Social platforms have created a busy new online arena where hiring managers can search for candidates, engage with them, and ultimately hire new employees.

The question is, does social media present a quality hiring solution or is it simply a different one filled with its own flaws and challenges? With that in mind, here are a few of the pros and cons of using social media for your hiring efforts.

Pro: Social Media is Cheap

Make no mistake, social media is a cheap way to get the word out about an open position.

While companies can choose to pour hundreds and thousands of dollars into paid advertising, the basic functions of most social platforms (and the ones that are necessary for most recruiting) are straight-up free.

Con: Fraudulent Ads

When hiring on social media it’s important to remember that you’re in a market where anyone can post anything. There are many fraudulent or misleading ads that potential candidates must learn to be wary of.

Of course, if a potential candidate is using increased caution to make sure they aren’t duped into clicking on a fake job advert, it’s important to make sure your own ads are clearly and convincingly legitimate.

Pro: Social Media is Where the People Are

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of utilizing social media for any business strategy is the simple fact that everyone and their mother is already using it. Social media can have an incredible reach and, in a world that is increasingly driven by remote workers and the gig economy, it can be a great way to find a nearly unlimited source of potential candidates.

It can also allow you to reach qualified prospects that aren’t even currently looking for work. If you find a passive candidate that perfectly matches your job qualifications, social media provides a means to open up a line of communication and begin the head-hunting process.

Con: Difficult to Promote Jobs in a Predictable Way

One particularly frustrating element of social media is the convoluted process of promoting job adverts. This can be very difficult to do in a predictable way. Unless you’re planning on pouring a decent chunk of change into promoting an ad with your job description, it can be extremely difficult to make sure the job opening is actually seen by the right people.

Part of this can be solved by using the right social media platform. For instance, LinkedIn requires building a solid social network in order to spread the word, but it can be a great way to find professionally-focused individuals.

Facebook is constantly changing its paid advertorial tools, but it can still be a great way to promote hiring and networking events. Twitter is limited in the number of characters allowed in a post, but hashtags can help you track down candidates more easily. Make sure to match up your needs to the platform you’re using.

Pro: Social Media Provides Rapid Channels of Communication

Simply put, social media is a time saver. Rather than following the slow and steady march of more traditional hiring channels, social media plugs recruiters into a lively online community that operates on rapid-fire communication.

This can help to dramatically reduce that daunting 42-day hiring time average.

Con: Social Media Can Lead to Disinterest

While it may feel like a field day for a candidate hungry recruiter, they must be careful in how they approach potential hires on social media. If they haven’t been accosted by the candidate beforehand, a recruiter reaching out to someone can come across as tacky, annoying, or even intrusive.

People don’t always want to communicate about work on social media and may specifically avoid using it for professional purposes. This should always be kept in mind, especially when searching for passive candidates.

Pro: Social Media Provides Information

The social media hiring stereotype often revolves around the fact that it allows an employer to review an individual’s personal activities in a uniquely detailed way. If a hiring manager is considering an applicant, they can use their social profile to gauge their interests, behavior, views, goals, professionalism, and so on.

This is particularly helpful in weeding out the bad candidates. In fact, according to CareerBuilder, a third of all hiring managers claimed to have not hired a candidate based on what they discovered on their social profiles.

Con: It Doesn’t Beat a Face-To-Face Meeting

Judging someone based on social media can be flawed. Perusing a candidate’s posts and checking over their profile may provide an abundance of otherwise impossible to obtain information, but that doesn’t change the fact that the information that is harvested during this process can be seriously flawed.

In addition, it’s difficult, bordering on impossible, to understand tone, motivation, or inflection when reading written text. In this sense, while social media can help you find a candidate, it can never quite beat that face-to-face conversation over a desk or replace the level of engagement and interaction you can inspire from a busy booth at a trade fair.

When you meet a candidate “in the flesh,” you can sum them up by their spur of the moment behavior and gauge the genuineness of their responses based on their body language and tone.

Pro: Social Media Focuses on Young, Fresh Talent

The modern workplace is constantly in a state of flux. New technology, an ever-increasing dependence on the internet, and always-changing business procedures make adaptability a crucial trait in any new hire.

Naturally, millennials and Generation Zers tend to excel at adapting to change, as they grew up in a world in which nothing was predictable for long. Fortunately, social media makes it easy to find younger millennial and Gen Z candidates, as they’re avid users of social media.

Con: Upsetting the Status Quo

It’s important to remember that social media hiring is still a fairly new method of recruitment. As such, it can upset many people who are affected by it.

Many of those who are having their social profiles scrutinized by recruiters on a regular basis may see this behavior as an invasion of privacy. It’s an attitude that may turn quality candidates off from pursuing the opportunity to work with you.

In addition, recruiting new members to your workforce via this new digital method may upset existing people within your staff who feel it’s flawed for various reasons (many of which are included on this list). If this is the case, it can be wise to pitch your new social media hiring efforts as a full-blown reorganizing process for your company.

Pro: Inadvertent Advertising

One often-overlooked element of social hiring is a simple fact that it boosts your social media profile traffic. Social media isn’t just a hiring tool, after all. It’s also a key cog in many companies’ marketing and customer service operations.

As such, your social media presence can benefit when you post a job advert that attracts engagements such as clicks, shares, and likes.

Con: Sorting Through the Clutter

One of the most frustrating things about hiring online is the sheer volume of responses that can be received. With hundreds of millions of active users across so many platforms, a quality job posting can receive a lot of attention — including a decent number of completely unqualified candidates.

Fortunately, a recruiter can take advantage of an applicant tracking system (ATS) in order to help weed through the overwhelming pile of applications that one may receive through a social media job posting.

A Few Final Thoughts on Social Media Hiring

If you decide that taking to Facebook or LinkedIn in search of your next employee is the right choice, it’s important to keep one more thing in mind: keep good records as you go. Good record keeping is important for all business activities and it’s an absolutely critical element to the online hiring process.

Information on social media can disappear in an instant, and even if it doesn’t, you don’t want to spend countless hours reading through an individual’s older posts in order to figure out if they were the one that had interviewed at Google or posted that offensive picture — or if it was someone else. Take notes as you go, and you’ll save yourself endless headaches later on.

And there you have it. There are many, many pros and cons to hiring candidates via social media. Many of the cons boil down to the fact that modern technology is never a perfect replacement for a traditional business activity or methodology.

However, that doesn’t mean it should be left by the wayside. On the contrary, often the modern technological option can improve a process in areas where the original method fell short. Social media’s ability to communicate swiftly, give access to detailed information, and provide an affordable hiring option are all significant pros that shouldn’t be ignored.

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