SI Review: July 2012


Research Report: Not That Friendly

Not That Friendly

Surprisingly few workers find staffing firms through social networking

By Craig Johnson

Social networking now ranks as a key part of the cultural landscape. If you are not on LinkedIn or familiar with Twitter or Pinterest, you are not with it.

The staffing industry has picked up on this. Social networking, including recruiting, was part of the buzz at the March 2012 Staffing Industry Analysts Executive Forum.

However, it appears prospective temporary workers aren’t yet turning to social networking sites in droves, at least when it comes to finding staffing firms.

Only 1 percent of temporary workers say they found their staffing firm through social networking, according to a new report by Andrew Karpie, a research analyst at Staffing Industry Analysts, the publisher of this magazine.

Instead of social networking, temporary workers found their staffing firms through more traditional methods. The top three ways were:

  • The staffing firm contacted the worker directly, 28 percent.
  • A friend/colleague recommended the agency, 20 percent.
  • The worker responded to an advertisement on a job board, 17 percent.

The first method, direct contact from a staffing firm, included people who were contacted by a staffing firm after the agency found their résumé on a website such as

The report is based on a survey of more than 4,100 temporary workers from more than 50 staffing firms operating in a variety of segments. It describes social networking as services such as LinkedIn or Facebook.

Why the low usage of social media? Some online social networking may tend to attract more passive candidates — people who are already traditionally employed and may not be interested in taking a temporary position at another firm, some have said.

The low use of social networking may also raise questions about whether the staffing industry’s investment in social networking is adequate or effective, according to the report.

Social networking may also not be the most appropriate method of reaching all candidates. In an article in the August 2011 issue of Staffing Industry Review, “Connect with Candidates,” one staffing firm questioned whether social networking on social media would work as well in the industrial staffing sector.

Indeed, Karpie’s report found that workers in “production/manufacturing” and “transportation and materials moving” most frequently found their staffing firms through a recommendation from a friend.

Professional workers — such as engineers and information technology workers — said the most frequent way they learned of their staffing firm was by the firm contacting them directly. One exception was healthcare workers, who reported Web searches as the most frequent method of finding their staffing firms.

Around the World

Other research also shows relatively low use of social media sites to find jobs.

A report included in the Kelly Global Workforce Index by Kelly Services Inc. also found that only 1 percent of job seekers around the world found their most recent position using a social networking site. The percentage was similar despite region or age group.

Kelly’s survey did find that 26 percent of global job-seekers found their most recent position by using an online job board. The next most-highly rated method was word-of-mouth, at 22 percent.

Not Giving Up

Despite social media’s low ranking in terms of how many people got their new job or found their staffing firm through it, companies of all stripes are still turning toward it. In fact, a report by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 56 percent of organizations used social media as a tool to recruit candidates in 2011, up from 34 percent in 2008.

Of course, recruiting is just one use for social media. Workers of all kinds and across different generations use social networking sites to spread the word, market themselves and keep in touch with their friends. It’s possible that down the road they would use it to find staffing firms. The Kelly report found that 24 percent of people worldwide searched for jobs on such sites.

Craig Johnson is managing editor, staffing publications, at Staffing Industry Analysts. He can be reached at


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