Jamie Herzlich Newsday columnist Jamie Herzlich

Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday.

Social media has long been a networking tool, but it's increasingly becoming a recruiting tool for companies.

LinkedIn continues to be the dominant social network used by recruiters, with Facebook and Twitter seeing significant growth in the past year, according to a recent social recruiting survey by Jobvite, a social recruiting software company.

With the ability to instantly gain access to a large pool of talent, social recruiting is only expected to gain momentum, experts said.

"I think companies are using it because their applicants are on there," said Diane Pfadenhauer, an employment lawyer and president of Northport-based Employment Practices Advisors, an HR consulting firm. "It's another way to reach their market."

This year, 92 percent of U.S. employers used or planned to use social recruiting, up from 89 percent last year and 78 percent five years ago, according to the Jobvite survey. Most were using LinkedIn, but two-thirds of recruiters polled also were using Facebook to find new talent, and more than half also used Twitter.

(See http://recruiting.jobvite.com/resources/reports/ for results).But just as employers can use social media to screen candidates, candidates can use it to screen potential employers, said Dan Finnigan, chief executive of Burlingame, Calif.-based Jobvite.

Establish a strong presence. That's why having a strong social media presence can be helpful in luring candidates, he said.

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Create a company Facebook page and include a job section, he said. Also, create a Twitter account and have key employees and executives create Twitter accounts so they can share company news and other information, said Finnigan.

Keep it fresh and updated, he said.

If you're looking for a particular job candidate, put it in a status post or on your company pages within your social networks, said Chris Campisi, branch manager for the Hauppauge location of staffing firm Robert Half International.

Talk to employees and see if they'll share it throughout their social network, he said.

People who work for good companies want to attract other good people, said Campisi, who is seeing more companies locally use the social networks as a recruiting tool.


Join groups within these networks to help garner referrals, he said. Pfadenhauer created eight groups on LinkedIn, many of which are human resources-focused. One such group has more than 1,300 members, she said.

Those groups offer opportunities to post jobs or reach out to other potential sources of candidates.

Tap contacts for candidates. You can also look within your own network and see who your connections are in contact with.

That's what Glenn Goldberg, chief executive of Parallel Communications Group Inc. in Oceanside, has done.

"I go through my LinkedIn contacts," said Goldberg, who found freelance writers and his senior account director last year for his tech-focused public relations firm. He said he looks for connections who are in a similar field as his company.

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"I was frustrated with other recruiting methods," he said, adding social recruiting is "more targeted, and I have more control over the process."

While social networks are being used by more companies for that reason, firms should also be aware of pitfalls.

In the process of your searches, you could learn something about an individual that is a protected characteristic, such as race or religion, said Pfadenhauer.

"Be consistent with what you're doing and be able to explain it," she said. For instance, be able to explain the criteria you use to review and select candidates on social media if you're ever called to defend your hiring decision.

It doesn't necessarily have to dominate your recruitment efforts, but it can provide another avenue.

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"It's just another tool people can use as a resource," said Campisi.

Fast Fact

    More than seven out of 10 employers (73 percent) have successfully hired a candidate through social media, up from 63 percent in 2011.


    Source: Jobvite 2012 Social Recruiting Survey