Published: Apr 24, 2018Time to read: 3mins Category: Recruitment

Microtargeting: What You Need to Know about Social Recruiting’s Newest Controversy

Digital advancements have empowered recruiters with the capability to narrow their candidate search on social platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. The practice promises much, but it’s important for recruiters to be aware of potential downsides. Here's what you need to know.

If you’re like most people, banner ads are following you. And you’ve noticed. You Googled something or shopped online and now you’re seeing sponsored Instagram posts and Facebook ads related to your search and other online behavior. Sound familiar?

Targeting internet users based on likes, searches, and profile information—also known as microtargeting—is a proven approach to online marketing and advertising. And it’s becoming more common in the recruiting sphere.

Digital advancements have empowered recruiters with the capability to narrow their candidate search on social platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. The practice promises much, but it’s important for recruiters to be aware of potential downsides.

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Social Recruiting: A Proven Practice That’s Here to Stay

The prevalence of targeted jobs ads on social platforms has increased in concert with the rise in social recruiting. In its 2015 survey, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 84% of organizations were already using social recruiting.

In 2017, Facebook joined the likes of LinkedIn and Google—introducing a jobs bookmark that delivers targeted job advertisements to over 1 billion people every month. Many recruiters are using this tool to connect with potential job seekers based on interests and geographic location.

Today, trend-spotters looking beyond 2018 take social recruiting as a given as they predict new tactics and applications like:

At the same time, the rapid growth of social recruiting has generated questions about its legality.

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The Focus on Facebook

For talent acquisition leaders, the undeniable appeal of Facebook in particular is its sheer volume of users and its user-friendliness.

With a user population that surpasses LinkedIn by fourfold, Facebook offers an efficient and low-cost means of expanding the talent funnel—reaching more (and perhaps more specifically qualified) applicants. Quick “Apply Now” buttons and options like auto-population from your social profile make submitting an application almost effortless.

But demographic targeting capabilities inherent in Facebook’s business model—which centers on the “ability of advertisers to deliver their message to the precise audience most likely to respond”—has drawn attention from the media, from potential applicants, and from workers’ rights organizations and legal workers, who deem the practice as unjust.

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How Microtargeting Creates a Space for Employment Discrimination

While advertisers exercise their power to create microtargeted ads influenced by users’ web activity and social profile, what stirs controversy for recruiters is the potential for job-specific ads to permit inadvertent—or deliberate—employment discrimination.

While recruiters know well the regulations regarding employment discrimination, these laws predate social media. All the same, they still apply—to recruiters, companies, and social platform executives.

So where does the line fall between the search for an ideal candidate and employment discrimination? And how can talent acquisition leaders identify and eliminate discriminatory practices? Speak to one of our recruitment experts, or follow the PeopleFluent blog for more insights.

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PeopleFluent helps you fill critical roles with the right people and the right skillsets on a global scale. At the same time, it helps you build your employer brand and sharpen your competitive edge.

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