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Leveraging social media to enhance recruitment effectiveness: A Facebook experiment

François A. Carrillat (Department of Marketing, HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Alain d’Astous (Department of Marketing, HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Emilie Morissette Grégoire (Développement International Desjardins, Bangkok, Thailand)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 29 July 2014




The purpose of this paper is to investigate how firms can use social media such as Facebook to recruit top job prospects.


In the context of a fictitious event presumably sponsored by a potential employer, a sample of university students became members of a new private and secret Facebook user group dedicated to this event for a period of four days. They were exposed to event sponsorship activation messages varying systematically with respect to the mode of processing (i.e. passive or active) and their focus (i.e. the brand or the event).


The results show that their expectations as regards the salary that they would require to become employees were higher in the active mode of processing. Also, their attitude toward the sponsor as an employer was more favorable when the activation messages focussed on the brand rather than on the event. In addition, further analyses showed that the effects of message focus and mode of processing on the attitudinal responses toward the sponsoring employers were mediated by the degree of elaboration and richness of social interactions of the Facebook group's members as well as their attitude toward the activation messages.

Practical implications

Managers seeking to gain a recruiting edge through their social media presence should use online messages that stimulate more active processing and that have high entertainment value since this leads to more favorable responses toward the employer. These messages should insist more on the brand than on the event that is sponsored.


This study is the first study to foray into the usage of social networking sites for recruitment purposes. It represents one of the few research efforts to monitor the interactions of users in a social media platform by means of a controlled experiment performed in situ through the creation of an ad hoc Facebook group.



Part of this research was completed when François A. Carrillat was a Visiting Research Scholar at the University of Adelaide Business School.


A. Carrillat, F., d’Astous, A. and Morissette Grégoire, E. (2014), "Leveraging social media to enhance recruitment effectiveness: A Facebook experiment", Internet Research, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 474-495.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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