By Morgan Pierce, CEO, ReferStar

Social media has vastly changed the way in which we live our daily lives. Looking back ten years, the idea of interacting with your friends and colleagues instantaneously via the Internet was inconceivable. But nowadays we are glued to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and the plethora of other social apps and games on our mobile phones at all hours of the day and night.

In today’s business environment, one of the more critical issues to sustained growth and profitability is the growing skills shortage. To begin with, companies are fighting for a limited pool of qualified candidates. Then, the on-boarding process is lengthy, where companies take time to interview, hire, and then train new employees to get them up to speed. If the wrong person is hired, then the investment is lost, and the opportunity cost of having a productive employee is also negative. The result is a more complex and time consuming hiring process, which again, takes a chunk of money off the bottom line. Multiply this by hundreds, possibly thousands of miss-hires, and the cost to commerce can be massive.

Recruitment is all about attracting talent and identifying people that are the best fit for your organisation. Social media enables what we call referral recruitment, the process of identifying candidates that come to an organisation as a result of a referral. If someone is willing to stake their reputation on a referral, then it is assumed that the person has what it takes to make a contribution to a company. No one will risk their reputation for someone that they are not 100% certain will make them shine. That’s why many organisations are automating their employee referral programs with tools that allow their employees to identify talent in the social graph.

Global companies like Deloitte, Cisco, Dell and Yahoo! are utilising social media to source top talent. By leveraging referral recruitment, employers can not only reach candidates faster and at a lower cost, but it also improves their corporate culture because no one will recommend someone they don’t want to work with. Social media enabled referral recruitment is fast becoming the simplest way for employers to directly engage with their target audience.
A few more positives and then we can wrap up. Firstly, social recruiting helps businesses retain staff. Our research shows that employees sourced from referral are 46% more likely to stay with an organisation for a longer period of time. There is a bond formed through referral that ties people to an organisation longer. Social media also provides an opportunity to find candidates that may have never been found through traditional sourcing channels, what in the recruitment business is referred to as a passive candidate. Someone who is perfect for a job may not respond to a recruiter or a job board advert, but they may take a phone call from a colleague they are connected with on social media.

Social media is no longer just a simple socialising instrument. It has developed into a significant resource of data about the ‘connectedness of people’ that has great benefit for companies of all sizes. Hiring a candidate that has been referred by an existing employee or a friend of the company not only has a positive economic impact, it also increases the brand value of the business as a great place to work.