Social networking has completely altered the way potential employees and employers connect. But how did we get from a pre-social world to one in which a quarter of the planet’s population uses social media — with numbers expected to skyrocket to 1.73 billion by the year 2017? Let’s take a closer look at how the rapid expansion of social networking has changed the recruiting world, and what we can expect moving forward.

An Ever-Changing Industry

The recruiting industry can hardly be described as stagnant. In fact, as new technologies — from computers to the internet to mobile — have changed the world, so have their effects trickled into recruiting and human resources. (Although “trickled” may not be the best word to describe how emerging technology has continually driven recruiter reach and HR efficiency.)

Think of it this way: a 140-word Tweet advertising an open position to a self-selected pool of followers is more likely to yield refined results than a random ad in the “Help Wanted” section of the paper. Need more proof? Consider these results from Software Advice’s Recruiting Channels Survey revealing that while job boards yield the highest volumes of candidates, social media consistently delivers the highest quality candidates.

Enter Social Media

Over the past two decades, we’ve seen a transformation from a recruiting process governed by paper to one in which the sourcing, review, and hiring of candidates is facilitated almost entirely by social media. And while social media was technically invented in the late 1990s, its impact on recruiting didn’t even begin to reach critical mass until the last five years or so.

Of course, social networking is useless without the ability to leverage it into results. Savvy recruiters now use sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter not just to expand their reach, but to target their efforts to make sure job openings make it into the “sweet spot” of candidates — those with the right combination of talent and inclination. Recruiters can also use social media for everything from vetting applicants to growing their pipeline of passive candidates to building brand awareness by creating original, well-cultivated content.

But recruiters — just under half of whom plan to ramp up their social media recruiting efforts, according to the Software Advice survey — can’t do it alone. Nor do they have to, thanks to the newly paramount role played by employees as a sourcing strategy for savvy recruiters. Companies must also be willing to support recruiter efforts by investing in social recruiting strategies.

While we can’t predict the future, we can safely say that social media will continue to play a vital role in the recruitment process by pushing the boundaries of efficiency and effectiveness. Recruiters who harness the full power of social media, meanwhile, will successfully serve the ever-changing needs of the companies they represent and job candidates alike.

To leverage your recruiters and employees’ personal networks to reach potential candidates faster, watch this video on how WittyParrot can help.

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