Using social media for effective recruitment

Nick Stanley
by, Nick Stanley

The world of recruitment is always changing. The major trend over the past decade is the growing use of social media to amplify and hone recruitment efforts.

While many companies are already profiting from the sales and marketing opportunities social networks present, not all of them are using it to attract top talent and find ideal candidates.

Most people across age groups - we’re not just talking about young people - are active on social media and are using it to search for jobs and check out potential employers.

Sure, the more traditional recruitment strategies, such as posting on job boards, in newspapers, and at employment offices, are still effective and valuable, but social networks offer many benefits and efficiencies.

So let’s look at how you can start using social media to help you find and hire new talent (this is often called “social recruiting”).

Be aware that social recruiting can be active or passive, and that each social platform has strengths and weaknesses and appeals to different groups, ages, and professions. Get familiar with the networks, their features and products, and tailor your recruitment efforts accordingly.

Benefits

  • Attract better talent.
  • Build a large, high-quality talent pool.
  • Reach people who aren’t actively looking for a job (passive candidates).
  • Narrow the candidate pool more effectively.
  • Quickly find people who are qualified or have a specific set of skills.
  • Learn more about a candidate’s background, personality, and whether they’re the right fit for the business.
  • Build two-way communication with potential employees.
  • Increased employer brand and recognition (it’s easy to share company news and activities).
  • Give potential candidates insight into the company, its mission, values, and culture (a solid reputation and strong online presence counts for a lot, especially with passive candidates).
  • Cheaper and more responsive than traditional channels.

Things to be aware of

  • Need to develop a dedicated strategy before posting openings, reaching out to passive candidates, or talent pooling for future work.
  • Requires ongoing effort to do well.
  • If you have a vacancy, define the role, the ideal candidate, and where they’re most likely to spend their time on social before you post, so you know which platform to use.
  • Learn how to use each network and any advanced features, e.g. LinkedIn Advanced People Search, Facebook’s Graph search.
  • Tailor your message to reach the right individuals at the right time (posts don’t stay current on feeds for long).
  • Social media is highly curated so it’s easy for candidates to make themselves look good.
  • Make the application process as simple as possible, with as few steps from the job post to completion as possible (slow, buggy application processes will turn people off).
  • Think mobile first - most people apply for jobs on mobile, while on the bus etc.
  • Your employees are your ambassadors - they should know how to use social networks for professional purposes and get involved, e.g. videos from current employees, those in the same team, manager, etc
  • If you are using social media as part of the selection process, it’s best to be up front about this as it is an ethically murky area, especially looking at information that a candidate might consider “private”. Consider developing a standardised procedure that complies with the Human Rights Act.
  • Need to measure and analyse your results and update your strategies regularly.
  • Be authentic and creative - there are a lot of companies using social media and you want to stand out for the right reasons.

Facebook

Facebook is the world’s largest social network with over 2.6 billion monthly active users (as of Q1 2020). 75% of NZ’s population are active Facebook users, so it offers you access to the largest pool of potential employees, especially younger people and individuals looking for work.

It is free to set up a company page on Facebook. Once your page is established and you have followers, you can post a job either as a regular post or under Facebook Job.

Free posts rely solely on organic reach based on Facebook’s algorithm. The lifespan of a free post is only about 3 hours, so research when your followers are active on your page (using Business Page Stats), so you can time your post to reach the most people.

If it performs well initially, Facebook will show it to more of your audience. Clicks and reactions also help, so invite your team members to like and share posts with their networks.

For maximum impact, there is nothing like boosting your post. You can choose how much you spend - the minimum cost is $1 per day - and can either boost your post to the people who like your page (and their friends) or target people based on their location, interests, age, and gender.

If you are paying to boost a post, be aware that it is illegal to discriminate against people based on age, gender etc., so be careful when you choose the ad settings.

It’s also a good idea to join groups, e.g. job groups and community pages, to let people know you are hiring or to seek out potential employees.

Facebook is good for gauging how candidates present themselves to strangers, friends and family.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network, with over 690 million users in more than 200 countries. Over 40% of NZ’s population are active users.

Because of the access to such a large dedicated pool of professionals, and its specialised search capability and ability to network, LinkedIn is especially popular with recruiters.

It’s free to set up a LinkedIn company page. You can then post jobs available and search for candidates.

LinkedIn is good for learning about a candidate’s professional experience (profiles are like online CVs) and reaching passive candidates - the company says 90% of members would be open to taking the “right job opportunity”.

For better reach and targeting, you can pay to use LinkedIn Ads and target audiences by job title and function, industry and company size, by seniority and age, and by LinkedIn groups. You can also can pay for an extra search platform

Even if you don't have the budget to pay for job postings or other paid services, you can still announce your job opening as a post and use your status box to broadcast that you are hiring.

Using LinkedIn as a networking tool works best when you build lots of connections to businesses and people you know, e.g. former co-workers, current clients, local business-owners.

Stay connected with past candidates. People may not have been the perfect fit for your business when they applied in the past, but they now have more experience and could be a good prospect. Or they may know someone who is. You can also ask others in a particular skills space or from a particular company where they have similar types for recommendations or referrals.

Follow your connections and other company pages so you get notified when they post.

You can contact people you are connected to directly via Inmail, or if you share a connection, request an introduction.

Join industry or skill set groups to advertise your roles, start discussions, and attract potential candidates.

 

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Others networks (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc)

There are many other social networks out there, some more popular than others. The main ones to consider including in your recruitment efforts are Twitter (over 330 million active monthly users) and Instagram (over 500 million active daily users and over 1 billion active monthly users). Many companies are also successfully using Pinterest, Snapchat, and others.

These networks can be seen as secondary channels that attract people to the actual job listing and application mechanism you have elsewhere. These networks are also useful for promoting your business and getting a sense for a candidate’s passions, values, and if they might fit your company’s culture.

Postings are free about jobs you have (be sure to include a link to the listing).

Twitter is meant for updates about what is happening in the current moment. Tweets are text-based and limited to 280 characters, so make your messages brief and memorable.

Instagram is the most visual of the platforms, so it lends itself to companies in the creative and digital industries. Given its visual nature, you need to use images that are going to attract attention. Postings also turn around a lot faster on visual channels, so be sure to post regularly.

To make your job posting or tweet stand out and make it easier to find and reach possible referrals, incorporate hashtags (eg. #job, #nzjobs, #employment, #recruiting, #hiring, #werehiring). Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per caption, so fill your boots.

Remember, these are personal platforms. If you are using them for research or to follow and connect with people directly, be sure to be respectful, succinct, and reasonably informal.

Also use these platforms to keep potential candidates interested and engaged, e.g. company updates or relevant industry news.

Remember: candidates are looking at you, too

Many candidates will go and look at your company’s social media pages to get a sense of who you are, what you’re up to, and what your vibe is like. So your company will benefit from having an active and regularly-updated social media strategy.

At MyHR, we have a range of more formal content, like live discussions, sharing our latest blog posts, legal and software updates etc., but also photos of the team doing fun, social things, so when candidates look through at our posts, they can get a sense of our company culture and brand and whether they think we would be a good fit.

This range of content and its tone should suit your business (e.g. Westpac’s social media feed is very different to MyHR’s) but having active social media profiles helps attract talent, especially younger people, who want to feel more connected and aligned with their employers.

Also remember the importance of a good recruitment experience; if unsuccessful candidates are treated respectfully throughout, they’ll be much more likely to apply later on or refer other people in their network to apply.

Get more recruitment tips.

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