Success and Skepticism

How CH2M Hill cut down on the time it spent finding recruits with social media is an interesting example, but it has also produced some skepticism.

David Mason, CH2M Hill's London-based international talent acquisition director, made a presentation on June 11 at a conference in London held by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

In his presentation, Mason said the company posted jobs on job boards and tried to use Twitter. But that tactic flooded CH2M Hill with too many unqualified applicants.

“Simply tweeting the job posting isn’t enough,” notes Eric Weissman, president of Onwebmarketing Inc., which develops social media technologies.

One possible strategy is to create an incentive for someone to tweet a recommendation to an employer that they hire a particular talent. In contrast to simply pushing out news of a job opening, “that’s a powerful use of Twitter,” says Weissman.

CH2M Hill found it was better off using a LinkedIn license, which gave the company access to tens of millions of members and messages per month and per license.

Equipped with its LinkedIn license, CH2M Hill was able to pinpoint its searches.

When it needed a specialized civil engineer for a job in Korea, according to an account of the presentation on, CH2M Hill used its LinkedIn tool to gather 100 potential candidates in 30 minutes. Then the company pared that number down to a short list of 10. After exchanging information with the 10, CH2M Hill was able to match one to the post—“all without the use of an expensive agency or third party,” according to

Skeptics reading about the presentation on raised doubts about how fast CH2M Hill completed all the work related to that recruit.

“One wonders about the extreme difficulty CH2M had in filling the position. I wonder how many of the requirements were not really germane and, worse, what were the requirements that were not recognized,” wrote a poster who did not wish to be identified.

“I find it pretty unlikely that ‘narrowing down’ from 100 to 10 happened overnight,” wrote another anonymous poster to “In my experience, professionals with genuine quality backgrounds are reluctant to jump and make a move with one phone call,” especially agreeing in a short amount of time to go work in Korea.

“Someone needs to pave the way,” the poster continued. “Make multiple contacts to build rapport and trust before you get the quality candidates that are ready to make a major change. They don’t get where they are by jumping at every opportunity.”

Mason couldn't be reached in time to respond on the comments. But a spokeswoman for CH2M Hill did forward additonal comments he made about which social media sites are most promising given the ages for which CH2M Hill recruits.

Facebook wasn't well suited for the "slightly stuffy" engineering sector, Mason said. Most of CH2M Hill's audience isn't from the "younger generation." With an average age of 39, LinkedIn better fit the company's profile.