Nearly 60% of HR and recruiting executives, directors and managers in a nationwide survey consider social media networks like LinkedIn and Facebook the next big wave in reaching a greater number of qualified candidates.

More than half (57%) of the industry practitioners polled online by Research Now for Jobscience Inc. expect to use LinkedIn for recruiting more than job boards, email marketing and employee-referral programs. In addition, 36% of the respondents plan to use Facebook more for recruiting this year than last.

“Using social networks to find candidates for current job openings has become a common strategy for recruiters,” says Ted Elliott, CEO and founder of Jobscience. “But the real value of social recruiting is when companies continually engage with people through social networking — so, when an appropriate job opens up the person is familiar with the company and has a propensity to want to work there. It’s about social sourcing and building pipelines of talent so your talent pool never runs dry.”

Social networks are not just important tools for recruiters; candidates are using them to research companies. Fifty-two percent of those polled believe that social networks are an important venue for businesses to attract candidates.

“As Facebook becomes the most relevant place on the Web, it is also putting a face on the ‘employment brand’ of companies,” adds Elliott. “Information about a company is no longer solely controlled by recruiters. Candidates and employees are using social media to gather information about companies. If companies want to attract top talent, they need a strategy for their employment brand — which includes monitoring how their brand is perceived on social networks, facilitating a social dialog and giving compelling reasons for people to work at their company.”

Within the survey, LinkedIn was cited as the social network that matters most with 86% of respondents giving it top bill, followed by Facebook at 51% and Google+ at 27%. Respondents find Twitter to be the least important social network for recruiting, at only 16%.  But the gap between Facebook and LinkedIn could shrink, as 36% of companies plan to use Facebook for recruiting more this year than last year.

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