Social Media for Recruitment: Hiring Techniques to Consider

The Internet has provided all kinds of opportunities for people to reach out and get exactly what they need, and businesses aren’t exempt from that. Lately, a lot of companies have been experimenting with a new method of recruitment: not just vetting their employees’ social media engagement, but actively reaching out to social media users to recruit them. There are even studies now available about the effectiveness of this recruitment method, and it’s not just small companies that use it. A report in 2013 said that 92% of companies use social media for hiring.

Pros and Cons

Hiring people is one of the most important processes you can go through as a business, so it’s definitely a good idea to try and learn from the experience of other companies who’ve already gone through all the growing pains for you!

Pros:

  • 73% of companies say they have successfully hired staff via social media – Time is a non-renewable resource. If hiring via social media is going to save you time, this could be a huge saving!
  • 42% of companies say that the quality of the candidates has improved – Recruiting via social media may just help you find the best and brightest minds in the business, people who are connected and updated with the latest news, trends and best practices.
  • It gives you an opportunity to check out the candidates in advance – When you recruit via social media, you have access to the applicants’ online lives. You can check if they’ve behaved professionally and know what’s appropriate, and you may also be able to find details on past interactions with employers and past projects they’ve completed.
  • You can get responses fastA Hudson Legal manager tweeted about an opportunity on her way into the office, and just ten minutes later, she had twelve responses from qualified individuals.
  • People who are recruited via social media will probably talk about the experience on social media – In other words, you have a great chance of finding several motivated and interested applicants just by reaching one on social media. People will tend to publicize their positive experiences—and that can only help you.

Cons:

  • It can be overwhelming – Social media recruitment opens the doors to anyone, anywhere, and there may be applicants who aren’t really qualified. If you have a wide social media reach, then you should expect to get hundreds of responses that you’ll need to sort through.
  • It can be underwhelming – If you don’t have that social media reach, you may find that your recruitment attempts fall on deaf ears. It’s a busy, busy arena, and there are lots of players. You’ll need to get your message just right in order to be heard amongst all the noise.
  • You need to actively manage your social media profile – In the Internet age, everything moves fast. News a month old is out of date. Having a social media profile and using it to recruit is going to require work in building up a network and producing content to lure people in, as well as filtering the responses you get.

Industry experts like Andy Headworth of Sirona Consulting warned that companies are sometimes using social media for recruitment when, actually, it isn’t a great fit. He told HR Magazine, “You need to ensure your target audience are actually on social media in the first place, and then more specifically which social media platforms they are on.”

In other words, you really need to know what you’re looking for, who you’re looking for, and how exactly to reach them.

Know the Network

If you’ve got this far and decided that recruitment via social media is a solution for you, then you need to consider the best way for your company to reach out. Do you already have a social media profile? Is that important?

The first three sites you’re likely to think of when it comes to recruiting via social media are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, as you’d expect:

  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is probably the most important professional network. 93% of companies use LinkedIn, and it’s a network where people expect to see news about companies and opportunities, and which they will keep updated with their professional credentials. Most jobseekers use it or at least maintain a profile on the site. You can even see endorsements from previous employers and colleagues, showing you exactly where a potential candidate’s skills lie.
  • Facebook. Facebook is a huge social network, and it has opportunities to match for the right company. You can use it to connect to a lot of potential applicants, and due to the more personal nature of the site, it does give you a glimpse into who they really are. On the other hand, because it’s personal, there are issues of privacy and what’s appropriate, and you may find that you discount some good candidates because of their private lives. Discrimination laws still apply in this situation, so you need to be careful to stay on the right side of them, and you need to tailor anything you post to this particular audience.
  • Twitter. Like Facebook, Twitter is one of the biggest social networks around, and it gives you a golden opportunity to connect with people in the industry. On the other hand, content has a very short lifespan on Twitter, and amongst all the noise, it can be hard to make yourself heard. The problems with the crossover of private and professional life exist here, too, along with the additional problem of anonymity.

But these sites may not be your only options. Other options include big forums like Reddit, which has subforums for almost any topic you can think of, or tech-specific sites like Github or Stack Overflow. It’s definitely worth finding out what sites any past or current employees use: if there’s a trend, then it’s worth following up and finding out how your employees use the sites – and perhaps even using existing employees to reach out to other potential experts.

The key thing is to find an angle that works for you – don’t do something just because your competition does. You need to stand out, not blend in: making sure you’re posting relevant content and attracting interest from the people who matter: people who know what they’re doing and can leverage that knowledge for you.

How to Get Started

Once you’ve decided on the social network or networks you’re going to use, and you’ve worked out the kind of people you’re looking for, you still need to create a campaign that interests the right people. It probably won’t be an overnight success: the world of social media is busy and fast-moving.

  • Create your brand identity – It’s not enough to just have an empty profile with your company’s name, or to use it just for tweeting out recruitment material. That isn’t going to win you the followers you need to really make social media recruitment a success. You need to create an active online presence. It may be a good idea to designate one person to do that, and provide them with a strategy to follow. That way, they’ll be able to act consistently and follow through on anything that happens in the network.
  • Know what you’re looking for – Think about what you would want from your employees. Shape your online presence accordingly, and you’ll soon draw the kinds of people you’re looking for – people who share your values and an enthusiasm for what you do.
  • Incentivize – This may not be an option for your company, or the rewards may (of necessity) be small, but referral programs often net high quality applicants who understand exactly what you need – and already have ties to the company through friendships or working with your current employees in the past. Even a free coffee can motivate an employee to talk favorably about your company to a friend, and then they’re primed for social media recruitment.
  • Market – Consider using ads, especially targeted ones, rather than just using social media posts. These will reach a wider audience and draw more people in.
  • Refine your methods – As you get started and build a social media presence, or learn to utilize it for recruitment if you already have one, there will be lots of opportunities to learn and make your offering even more compelling. Don’t waste it!

Further Reading

There are some useful sites and resources which might help clarify exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it when it comes to social media recruitment. Check out how other companies do it, and read advice from industry professionals:

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