The rise of the social candidate.

By Roger Christie

Is your organisation using social media to find and recruit talent? Are you using your branded social media channels to post job ads? Or even using premium subscription LinkedIn tools to search by keyword or experience, reaching out to candidates of interest?

If so, you’re part of the 84% of companies recruiting via social media. Social media are now mainstream in the world of recruitment.

What about your staff? Are you encouraging your people to use their own personal profiles and networks to promote job ads themselves?


In this scenario, staff who are active participants within social networks and appreciate the need to contribute to industry discussions are more valuable. As active participants, they are likely to get more positive responses for any posts than their employers.

Do businesses value social capabilities?

‘Thanks for the insight, Roge… What’s your point?’

In the case of finding and securing talent, businesses recognise the value of leveraging employees with social capabilities. They offer extra value to the business that less active employees do not.

So, if they offer greater value and the potential to improve business performance (in this case, shortening the time to place candidates and ultimately reducing recruitment costs), why aren’t organisations prioritising the development of these skills — social capabilities — across all aspects of business and all roles?

The social candidate

We recently partnered with an industry expert to map the competencies a social candidate brings to an organisation. In particular, we were interested to see how they compare with other types of candidates, like those with entrepreneurial flair, or those who support a diversity mandate. It’s been an enlightening process.

We discovered the best social candidates have a broad and valuable skillset when compared with peers, and one in demand by organisations facing a competitive, dynamic industry environment. The reasons are simple: a social candidate must combine specialist technical, sector, stakeholder and analytical skills. All while remaining resilient in the face of scepticism and constant change. No mean feat.

They are curious, data-driven and empathetic. They understand the importance of community and shared value. They know you need to listen before you speak. They place the customer at the centre of business decision making.

The value of social candidates

With few exceptions, organisations still hire social candidates for social-specific roles: social media manager, social strategist, social media specialist. They are needed for social teams to address social channels.

But with all these wonderful talents, why just limit these candidates to a social team? Why create an isolated area of expertise in your organisation? Why not classify those competencies that make a social candidate valuable, and include them in development plans for all employees?

The business case is simple:

  • Marketers will be more effective making content and campaign decisions when guided by authentic, real-time customer intelligence delivered by social listening — improving marketing performance and increasing customer value;
  • Service agents will be more empathetic, responding quickly to queries and using customer feedback to improve all service channels — lifting customer satisfaction and reducing cost to serve;
  • Sales representatives will be more informed of current industry movements, gaps and frustrations, tailoring the value of products and services to meet industry expectations — improving lead gen and shortening sales cycles;
  • HR staff will build engaged candidate pools and be better equipped to identify, retain and distribute valuable IP from current and former staff — reducing time to hire and increasing staff capacity and performance;
  • Product designers will test and learn faster, and identify trends in gaps and frustrations more regularly — shortening innovation timeframes and increasing business value from new customer segments or products; and
  • Policymakers will be more responsive on existing policies, leveraging real-time, widespread community intelligence to ensure decisions aren’t made in isolation — improving customer satisfaction and reducing policy development costs.

Most organisations still confine ‘social’ conversations to the marketing or service tables. It’s time to stop thinking of social as channels needing specialists to manage, and start thinking of social as capabilities to make all employees more effective and valuable.