Candidates are now much more visible. Since the advent of LinkedIn, which was only founded in 2002, there has been an explosion of people displaying their professional history and showcasing their skills and background on the web. This may be in the form of a LinkedIn profile or through their interaction on one of the many specialist sites like Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Tumblr, which cater to a variety of interests and pursuits. Even 10 years ago, the thought of being able to search online across the work history of so many people was unthinkable. These sites give employers and recruiters the ability to identify someone with a particular range of skills and experience required by an organisation with far greater ease than ever.

LinkedIn alone – sometimes described as Facebook for professionals – has a total user base of 467 million worldwide (as at the third quarter of 2016 – There are 3.6 million users in Australia ( This is a fair proportion of our professional workforce considering our total workforce is approximately 11.9 million. Facebook is also gaining more acceptance as a tool for uncovering people that may have the skills and experience a business requires. With an incredible 16 million users in Australia, it remains arguably the largest social media site by number of users.

For the recruitment industry, social media has been growing in popularity. Each social media platform gives the opportunity to search for particular industry skills, knowledge or experience. A google search of ‘social media as a sourcing tool’ delivers more than 1 million hits. There are even specialised services that aggregate results from many sites identifying people that match specific criteria. For employers, this can present a dilemma. They are now able to see the background and experience of a very large number of potential candidates. They, or the recruiter, can then simply send a message hoping to attract that candidate to their company.

Seems too good to be true – and it is. In the face of unprecedented visibility, candidates are being more discerning. Unsolicited contact does not mean they will rush immediately to join an organisation. They still have their own career path, goals, priorities – and may not respond to a job advert either. Unsolicited approaches could deliver your next star, but they can also damage your reputation by making your organisation seem generic, unfocused, non-strategic and even desperate. There is certainly a place for unsolicited approaches via social media. However, the right approach always needs careful consideration of what you have to offer and what makes you desirable. It needs to be targeted and much more intentional than simply ‘because I can’. Visibility can make companies rush to action, but behind every action is a person forming an opinion of how serious that company really is as an employer of choice. Keep it in your toolkit, but I encourage you to challenge how you use social media as part of your sourcing strategy.

Happy recruiting!