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Dromgoole estimates that 40% of researchers are on LinkedIn.

"Our recruiting budget for a billion-dollar lab is less than $100,000." --Rob Dromgoole, on why he uses social tools.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The lab's recruiter tracked down an almost-impossible-to-find hire by following his posts.; @PNNLNews

In March 2011 the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a Battelle-operated unit of the Department of Energy, was looking to hire as a consultant a nuclear engineer who spoke fluent Japanese, was a U.S. citizen, and had appropriate security clearance to help the lab, in partnership with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, respond to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Recruiting director Rob Dromgoole turned to professional networking site LinkedIn (LNKD), which offered him a shortlist of candidates, but it was hard to tell who might be a good fit. Then he noticed that one prospect, University of Idaho professor Akira Tokuhiro, had created a LinkedIn Group to discuss the disaster. Dromgoole called him up, and within a day they were discussing a position. Dromgoole says LinkedIn is good for screening, but the best social sites for finding scientists are the forums and groups they visit to discuss their work with peers. --J.H.

This story is from the September 16, 2013 issue of Fortune.
- Last updated August 29 2013 07:15 AM ET
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