Among recruiting and staffing professionals, increased access to passive job candidates via social media presents the biggest opportunity for recruiting in 2013, according to a survey from Bullhorn.

Asked to identify the one factor that offers the greatest opportunity in recruiting for 2013, 47% of surveyed staffing and recruiting professionals cited increased access to passive candidates via social channels, 18% cited efficient business practices, 15% cited increases in flexible roles and working environments, and 7% cited untapped growth in emerging economies. 

Below, additional findings from the North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends report, issued by Bullhorn in February 2013.

Among the recruiters surveyed, nearly all (98%) say they used social media for recruiting in 2012, up from the 94% who did so in 2011.

Among those using social media for recruiting, LinkedIn was the most popular channel (97%), followed by Facebook (51%) and Twitter (49%).

LinkedIn Most Effective Social Channel

LinkedIn was also the most effective channel for recruiting: 93% of recruiters say they used the professional networking site to successfully place a candidate 2012, up from the 86% who said so a year earlier. Some 17% of recruiters used Facebook to place a candidate in 2012 (vs. 19% in 2011), and 13% used Twitter (vs. 10% in 2011).

Asked which social networks they plan to use more in 2013, 38% of recruiters cited Twitter and 37% cited Facebook.

Top Sources for Candidates

Recruiters rated the effectiveness of various methods for finding candidates in 2012 on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being least effective, and 5 being most effective).

"Networking with other people, firms, and associations" came out on top with an average of 4.17, "referrals from previous placements" was second with 4.08, and "in-house candidate databases" rounded out the top three at 3.84. Meanwhile, 45% of recruiters cited "social media" as a highly effective sourcing method, giving it an average rating of 3.48. By contrast, in 2011 social media was in last place with a 3.18 rating.

Surprisingly, the method ranked as least effective for finding quality candidates in 2012 was job boards.

About the data: Findings are based on a survey of 1,848 staffing professionals in the US (84%), Canada (8.2%), US Virgin Islands (0.4%) and Puerto Rico (0.1%), conducted in December 2012. Some 59.2% of respondents were recruiters, account managers, or sales representatives; 22% were vice presidents, directors, or managers; 16.3% were board members, C-level executives, owners, or presidents; and 2.5% held miscellaneous agency positions.

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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.