What Moneyball Sourcing Teaches Us About Social Recruiting

The Moneyball Sourcing model provides a new lens to look at sources of current and future talent. The Moneyball Sourcing Model follows 3 steps:

1. Challenge conventional wisdom
2. Understand the science of winning
3. Adapt or die

When we look at the various social platforms, companies are predominately using LinkedIn and Twitter. Conventional wisdom suggests that Facebook is for personal web activities, while LinkedIn and Twitter fall more in the business or professional categories. Let’s put that conventional wisdom to the Moneyball test. LinkedIn is the leader in social recruiting with surveys proclaiming that anywhere from 61% to 86% use that platform.

The science of winning in the Moneyball Sourcing model suggests that we need to examine our beliefs with a data driven approach. And when we look at Facebook as a source for recruiting from a numbers perspective, we see an interesting result.

The numbers are just mind blowing. And the minute you quote a number, it is obsolete. For example, the graph below projects 95 million users on Google+; what is profound is that there were 50 million users when first wrote this blog post (I am not certain whether that is a comment about my speed of writing or Google+). In terms of sheer numbers, Facebook has the largest number of users. The estimates are that by the summer of 2012, Facebook will have grown to over 1 billion users—up from its current level of 850 million.

The conventional wisdom that says Facebook is just for personal and not business use suggests that most users do not have job or skill information in their profiles. The data is telling us that profiles were modified in order to take advantage of networking on Facebook.

When to big 3 of social platforms are considered, Facebook at 44% was clearly the most favored network for job search activity.

One more data point is very interesting. Conventional wisdom suggests that Facebook would not be an efficient source because there is a lack of information about the target audience. In other words, we would see too many unqualified candidates. What blew me away were the results of this major Jobs2Web study. The most efficient source of candidates was Facebook. Facebook was not only 3X better than LinkedIn, it beat all other sources of hire.

So if so many people are using Facebook for job seeking, why are recruiters investing so heavily in LinkedIn and LinkedIn Recruiter? Changing perceptions is very challenging and takes some courage. The final step in the Moneyball Sourcing Model is “adapt or die.” This is the hardest step–believing the data and then acting on that information. Clearly the business case for piloting sourcing initiatives on Facebook is made with the data. The challenge is that we just convinced folks that LinkedIn is a better platform that Monster, CareerBuilder or Dice. Now we have to tell them that was so 27 seconds ago.

We must have the courage to follow the data; even when it is counterintuitive. Recently, I was discussing the data in this post with some recruiting friends. In spite of the empirical evidence, each person believed that Facebook would not work well for recruiting, that it was reserved for personal activities. I know what a Moneyball Sourcer would do–what about you–do you believe the conventional wisdom or do you believe the data?


  1. Thanks for your insight. So I have a question then. Say I accept this model and I want to start using Facebook to recruit – then what? With LinkedIn, I can search profiles and make lists, send LinkedIn messages to people or even just try to call them. With Facebook, I don’t understand even where I’m searching? If I’m not friends with someone, how am I seeing their profile? Wouldn’t this method be limited to those in your ‘Friends’ circle? Or am I missing something BIG here?

    1. The Social Network is powered by Candidate and it depends on the compilation of own profile. The friendly type aims to socialize, but if we want to maintain a web reputation also consistent with our business, you have to compile your Facebook profile correctly.
      In Italy Facebook is observed from a distance, it used by teenagers and adults seen as a hobby. In my experience as a HR Specialist-Recruiting Manager, Linkedin is always the best way, Twitter – TweetMyJob is very nice but still only used by Americans. I always invite everyone to be able to make good use of social networks and explain how best to manage the completion of the profile.
      Have a good day!!

  2. Hi Marvin,

    Great post, as always. Just have a few points to clarify. Interestingly enough, at the Social Recruiting Strategies Conference in San Francisco last month Matt Lavery of UPS and I presented a case study about UPS’s Social Media Recruitment 3 year road map using the “Moneyball” approach you reference with full, clear and easy to follow metrics. Bill Boorman mentioned it on a recent blog entry which you can view here http://networkedblogs.com/tmrKD

    The whole premise behind a “Moneyball” approach as we have been applying it for the past three years is to move beyond the traditional “old school” focus upon unit costs for postings, recruiter licenses, technology and media to truly look at the recruitment value the organization receives as a result of each item. Then we comparatively rank and calibrate their effectiveness in helping to drive hires.

    I think it is important to not confuse “Moneyball” with a “silver bullet”. Our “Moneyball” approach we use for UPS is based upon the acquisition of hard data, a methodical approach to assign value and thorough testing to see how well it can scale. We have accumulated quite a bit of data among various social and online media and their respective abilities to drive meaningful applicant flows that convert into hires for UPS.

    Our data does not support the “Facebook v. LinkedIn” study you cited. Not by a long shot. I think the claims the study’s creators make are reckless and unfounded. The data set from the study you cited is too small at one hire each to draw any conclusions. And really, when LinkedIn is used correctly isn’t more of the value from recruiters’ efforts using their personal outreach through access to members profiles rather than through a job slot? The only conclusion that can really be drawn is that the study creators have an anti-LinkedIn bias and wanted to provide a “silver bullet” quick-fix solution to an audience eager for a simple solution. Unfortunately, unless you track social media applicant flow yourself you wouldn’t see the fallacy of the data or the conclusion cited above. That is not the way Social Media for recruiting works. It is a marathon, not a sprint.

    You certainly can use Social Media successfully for recruitment but it is by no means a “silver bullet”. It takes time, resources, a good strategy, solid execution, careful analysis and optimization to make it work. By using a “Moneyball” approach you can appropriately align it in terms of cost, effectiveness and scalability with your other applicant flow sources.

    Claiming that Facebook is 3X as effective as LinkedIn is not supported by my hard data, nor is it supported by Gerry Crispin’s recent findings, nor was it supported by two other major Fortune 100 firms using Social media to recruit who shared their actual 2011 results at that conference in San Francisco. And claiming so is not a “Moneyball” approach, it’s highly flawed and reckless.

    1. Thanks for your input. I appreciate your perspective and thinking around this. Your work with UPS is industry leading. I completely agree that social recruiting (using social media in recruiting) is not a short term approach and one source is not a silver bullet. I believe we are in a state of confluence with Web 1.0 & Web 2.0 recruiting ecosystem existing simultaneously. Until they converge, we will continue to live in this state of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity).

      I attempted to present a logical syllogism. If x +y is true, then Z would conclude logically. I am not suggesting the Facebook is a silver bullet, in fact, I am still not certain what the best path is to market jobs or recruit people. What I am taking from the Moneyball model is that not only do we need to look at the data, but we must also have the courage to consider a different path than the conventional wisdom when the numbers seem to suggest it.

      I do not have a first hand knowledge of how Mashable arrived at their conclusions, but am guessing they applied the Jobvite numbers to the number of job seekers that found work. That said, I am very comfortable with the jobs to web numbers. The data set was large and represented an aggregation of their customers. The Jobs2Web numbers represent a study in 2010-2011 covering more than 50 million visitors; 3.7 million completed applications and 63,000 hires. Recently Doug Berg provided similar findings in a more recent study (I will be adding that data when available). The Jobs2Web data is based on data from an ATS, not just relying on a survey responders memory or opinion or qualitative information. And Gerry & Mark’s great work illustrates how highly thought of that LinkedIn is confirms that the conventional wisdom of the sourcing and recruiting community. LinkedIn shows up that way on most surveys. I a fan of LinkedIn; I have seen starling numbers from LinkedIn. What I can tell you (based on my experience) is that LinkedIn generates a lot of traffic; a lot of “talent community joins” (25-30% join rate as opposed to a 3% benchmark); and a high “apply rate” (23-28% as opposed to the benchmark of 2%), but the number of hires do not exceed the benchmark levels. It was a curiosity around why more people were not being hired via LinkedIn that led to this article.

      One thing that I am suspecting is that people (not recruiters) are using Facebook to connect with their networks and find a job in that manner. And because that person enters the corporate recruiting world as a referral, we are not seeing the original source (something Gerry has suggested is missing is our analysis). Some of David Earle’s (Staffing.org) research on job seekers suggests that this social networking on the social platforms is part of how job seekers are using the internet to find their next roles.

      I am certainly not trying to be reckless with the data, because to me the integrity of the data is the cornerstone of Moneyball. I would suggest that data from 100+ Fortune 1000 firms needs to be taken seriously. UPS, while a great company has its own unique characteristics and may not be representative of the whole.

      Thanks for participating in the conversation.

  3. Hi Marvin,

    Just to be clear I would never claim you to be reckless. i admire the great work you have done. But I do think the Facebook v LinkedIn slide creator’s claim which is based on just one hire each is too small a data set. They can not fundamentally make the assertion that Facebook is 3 times as effective as LinkedIn for driving hires. It simply is not supported.


  4. Mike – You seem to be missing Marvin’s point (and our point), which is out of 60,000+ hires that we analyzed across our large client network – to get to 1 hire (out of the masses) he was showing the conversion funnel that was attracted from the different social networks in order to get a single hire.

    Surely as a marketing expert – you should have some appreciation for “quality” especially if what’s filling the funnel is costing you money to fill it, or even if one is concerned about the fall out from having to tell 1,000 people they are rejected from any job (not a good candidate experience for any company) – which deters them from applying in the future.

    In our “hard coded” data (which is so good I could get the candidates in a room if necessary) what Marvin is revealing is that LinkedIn is not the only game in town from a social perspective, and that candidates are using Facebook in higher yielding ways than LinkedIn – which is what the “a-Ha” Moneyball experience is all about.

    Helping employers understand the formula for how this possible is the magic needed to translate the numbers into success – and will be a vital part of any strategic organizations game going forward.

    Happy to get on the phone and talk you through the numbers, but it seems we could get into a “my numbers versus your numbers” showdown that wouldn’t lead to much in the noisy room of social expertise around the recruiting space.

  5. Hi Doug,

    You, Marvin and I share a great passion for sourcing and tracking applicant flow. Thanks for bearing with me. My issue with the LinkedIn v Facebook slide is primarily with the conclusion being made regarding “effectiveness”. I just think you are undervaluing LinkedIn’s true contribution to driving applicant flow because you have only focused on traffic coming transactionally from its job slots. Also, there is not a distinction between the types of hires that were made via LinkedIn as opposed to Facebook. Perhaps the LinkedIn jobs were more highly skilled and therefore harder to fill compared to the Facebook jobs?

    I would be willing to bet you a steak dinner at Manny’s if we were to go to ERE expo and poll all the recruiters in attendance where did they feel they derived the greatest value from their LinkedIn corporate memberships, they would overwhelmingly say (and probably in this order, too) the ability to mine LI’s database of over 150 million profiles, connect with them personally and network via InMails for direct sourcing and/or referrals and the LinkedIn media targeting campaigns they could deploy for mass outreach for networking and referrals. The job slots while possessing some value would probably not be considered by them as a major (or most effective) sourcing channel within LinkedIn relative to the recruiter’s personal efforts with mining and networking outreach. How do you hard-code that? I don’t think that your survey took the most valuable part of LinkedIn to recruiters into account when establishing “effectiveness”.

    At best, the survey might be comparing a LinkedIn job slot to whatever had been done on Facebook which isn’t really very clear. Were they job postings on a company’s Facebook page that people who were already very inclined to move forward with the company had clicked hence the high engagement rate? Or Facebook ads driving people to a landing page? Branchout? Beknown? I don’t doubt that a job slot on LinkedIn would probably drive more applicant flow but that it would convert into hires less efficiently. You would be going out to a far more passive (and less engaged) audience on LinkedIn through only a job slot. Frankly, my data supports that conversion efficiency you cite, too, seen on social and mobile. What we have not seen yet from Facebook with regard to recruiting is scale that is comparable to LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed or Simply Hired. Efficiency of hiring conversion without the ability to scale is a major problem. I think factoring in scale with an appreciation of the difficulty of sourcing for particular positions should be included as well as efficiency of conversion when we make an assessment of real “effectiveness” and all three should be part of the “Moneyball Sourcing” strategy.

    Here is a recent article by Josh Bersin in Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/02/12/linkedin-is-disrupting-the-corporate-recruiting-market/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.