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Referral Programs > Talent Acquisition

Forget Social Media | Recruit Employees With Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word of Mouth Marketing for RecruitersThey may love their Facebooks, their Twitters and their YouTubes, but the members of Gen Y may not be nearly as swayed by social media as you might think. New research around social media’s influence on consumer behavior  indicates that, while millennials might be “digital natives”, they are actually more influenced by word-of-mouth marketing than social media when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

The takeaway for hiring managers and recruiters? Given that employee recruitment is essentially just another form of marketing, focusing more on word-of-mouth marketing techniques could enhance your recruiting strategy. (This doesn’t just go for recruiting Gen Y, either: The study showed word-of-mouth also trumps social media when marketing to members of Gen X and Baby Boomers as well.)

The question now, of course, is how? Might I suggest starting with your current employees?

We’ve discussed before the importance of turning your employees as employer brand ambassadors, and this finding speaks to that. Job seekers want to feel a connection with potential employers. They want to know first-hand what they’re getting into before they buy in and accept an offer. They want to hear from real people – people they feel they can trust – why a certain workplace is the workplace they want to invest in. As the face of your company, your employees are the way to accomplish these things. Consider the following tactics:

5 Ways to Create Word of Mouth Recruiting Using Your Employee Network

  1. Make the most of career fairs. Career fairs are perhaps the most obvious way to get employees in front of candidates to recommend your organization. Send your best employees to these events, where they can meet job seekers, answer questions about the work culture, exchange information with candidates, and let their personality and enthusiasm for their jobs and workplace do the selling for you.
  2. Sponsor employee memberships in professional organizations. Encouraging your employees to join professional organizations specific to your industry enables them to expand their professional network – and pool of potential candidates they can refer to your company. You’re also investing in your employees’ learning and development, a much-valued benefit among today’s workers (and one more selling point they can bring up to potential candidates).
  3. Mind your ERPs. Research shows that a well-structured employee referral program (ERP) is one of the best ways to generate new hires, but they’ve also been shown to increase retention, lower costs and boost morale among current employees.
  4. Emphasize the “social” part of social media. While social media might not be as influential as word-of-mouth, but you can still use social media to mimic the feel of word-of-mouth. How? Take a cue from online retailer Zappos, where employees create “connection channels” via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs to connect with potential employees, freely answer questions about life at Zappos, and let their individual personalities shine through as they ‘live the brand’. Social media may never hold the weight of face-to-face conversations, but it does enable employees to speak – authentically and in their own words – on behalf of their employers. That’s not a bad consolation.
  5. Create employee testimonial videos. Recruitment videos with employee testimonials are the next best thing to getting employees face-to-face with candidates (perhaps because it feels like face-to-face). See how companies like Noodles&Co and Madison Health Care Center utilize their recruitment videos to enable employees to tell their stories – literally in their own voices – about what makes working for these companies such a great experience.

Do you employ word-of-mouth marketing tactics in your recruiting efforts? How do employees at your organization help you recruit?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
Gravytrain | Vancouver SEO
Gravytrain | Vancouver SEO

Love the tips in this article. No doubt that some of the best "recruiters" you have are your current staff, as they can bring in a number of high quality new folks!


  1. [...] Be consistent. Be everywhere. It’s well-documented that today’s job candidates search for jobs much the same way they make purchasing decisions: They manage multiple points of contact in a fragmented media environment. Whether searching company career pages, job boards, niche sites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, attending in-person networking events, or social gatherings – job candidates are everywhere, utilizing multiple avenues at once to research employers and opportunities. Whenever and wherever your employment brand is represented, you need to ensure it is being represented consistently. (That includes turning your employees into employer brand ambassadors, so they can contribute to word-of-mouth recruitment marketing.) [...]

  2. [...] rely on these sources to evaluate potential employers, and it speaks to the importance of creating internal brand ambassadors,” Barnes points out. “If a company has an unhealthy culture, candidates will find out about [...]

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