The almost revolutionary potential of using LinkedIn to locate new staff really hit Union Bank's Joel Stern late last year.

"We posted a senior level position on LinkedIn," says Stern, vp, operations project manager and talent acquisition for Union Bank in San Diego, who says the job was at the "svp" level. "The person actually identified [him/herself], and in an amount of time that was pretty fast considering it was a senior level job."

Since the candidate emerged through LinkedIn, neither a headhunter nor a classified ad were required. The search demonstrated as much as it is a recruitment and brand-building venue, LinkedIn is also a middle-man buster.

"We would have had to use a search firm, with would have required fees and the recruiter's own networking efforts, as well as posting on other channels," Stern says, adding the bank saved thousands of dollars in search firm fees.

Union Bank is active in LinkedIn, recently posting ads for a branch manger, software programmer, svp of division operations and relationship manager, among others.

The bank's goal is not to replace traditional talent procurement methods, but to augment those efforts. LinkedIn and other social media such as FaceBook are currently about 20 percent of the bank's recruitment effort. In a short time - the bank has been using social media as recruiting tool for less than two years - it quickly has demonstrated itself as an invaluable way to build relationships with professionals before they even join the bank.

"We can build relationships and hire that person either now or later. We can stay in touch and keep top people informed about us as an organization," Stern says.

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