If you’ve been avoiding the use of social media in your recruiting, the potential impact on your hunt for top tech candidates is simple to explain: By limiting your exposure to the most talented technical talent, you’re hampering your chance to provide hiring managers with a high-quality set of candidates to consider. With the tech labor market so tight, those are big losses. “I’m always surprised to find technology people that aren’t involved in social media these days,” said Kevin Rooney, CEO of Expert Interview, a Chicago company that helps employers assess technology candidates. “It’s true that social media engagement gone wrong can be a time-suck. It doesn’t have to be, so don’t let it. Be intentional and disciplined, but you absolutely must engage as a technical recruiter.” Social media gives you a way to reach candidates who’ve grown skeptical—if not outright cynical—of traditional recruiting methods. “A lot of engineers have been oversaturated,” observed Ben Hicks, managing partner of software technology search at Waltham, Mass.-based recruiter WinterWyman. “I’m hearing candidates are abandoning LinkedIn, so you have to be plugged into the places where they’re working and networking.” Such places are sites such as GitHub, Stack Overflow, and narrower open-source and language-based communities where users post and critique code, exchange tips and network. While these sites don’t focus overmuch on job-hunting, using them “lets you dig in on their interests and have meaningful conversations,” Hicks said. “That’s something engineers seem to appreciate.” And when engineers appreciate you, they’re more likely to talk to you, recruiters note. Those who ignore social media miss the opportunity to build personal brands “so candidates can know you,” said Chad MacRae, founder of the social recruiting firm Recruiting Social in Los Angeles. “They’re missing the chance to get noticed and develop their reputation.” According to new survey data from Dice, nearly 7 in 10 recruiters plan to increase their usage of social next year, while 74 percent will boost their investment in social-recruiting initiatives.