Finding the right candidate for a job is like finding a new apartment: timing, finances and quality all have to align just right. And somehow, the pool of options always seems to feel both prohibitively large and prohibitively limited at the same time.
So, in both types of searches, online tools have become invaluable. But while tweeting out a call for a good real estate agent is fairly straightforward, using social media for recruiting has nuances that, if overlooked, can render the process far less useful. Here are a few key pointers from experts in the field to remember when getting started.
1. Start early
Simply tweeting out a link to a job posting might get you some viable candidates, but to really make sure you’re reaching your target audience, it’s important to cultivate your personality as an employer early on. “Social recruiting is about getting engaged and having conversations with people before they’re even thinking about you as an employer,” says Bruce Morton, CMO of Allegis Group Services, a company that provides human resources consulting. Morton also suggests that recruiters could “learn a lot from the consumer industry” in terms of marketing. In that analogy, your company is your brand, and the available job is just one of many products you have to offer. Keep that in mind when cultivating a social media presence for your brand that will eventually allow you to incorporate job announcements.
2. Know your audience
These days, it’s the rare holdout who has avoided creating a Facebook profile. But just because potential candidates have a presence on a given social network doesn’t mean that it’s the right site to use when targeting them. Debbie Fischer, human resources manager for advertising agency Campbell Mithun, found resounding success by using Twitter as a recruiting tool for summer interns. But, she cautioned that “you have to think about the types of roles you’re recruiting for,” because while college students can be open about their job hunt, more seasoned professionals may not feel comfortable publicly sharing that they are considering a career move. For those types of roles, Morton says that LinkedIn can be a good place to start, because, as he puts it, “what LinkedIn has done is given people the permission to put their resume online,” without fear of repercussions from current employers.
3. Get creative
When you make the foray into social recruiting, you are entering a space in which both passive and active job seekers are already receiving a massive amount of information on a daily basis. So, to get the best results, your message has to stand out enough to make people take note. Additionally, presenting your job openings in a creative way allows companies to show more about their personalities as organizations, which in turn helps potential candidates get a feel for whether or not the culture is likely to be a good fit.
This year, Campbell Mithun hired for their “Lucky 13” internship program through a process that required those interested to apply by submitting 13 tweets over 13 days. Due to its novel use of social media, the campaign garnered press from national outlets like AdAge.com, as well as Mashable. Even a straightforward job description can spread like wildfire on social networks if it’s written in a way that sparks discussion, like this announcement from a Florida newspaper that readers found refreshing for its candid and witty tone. And if you have more resources, you might consider creating a short video, as corporations like Facebook have done, to present your material in a more engaging manner. Morton says that when seeking Generation Y talent, recruiters can't assume that candidates will read a page of text, "but they’ll watch a video.”
4. Be open in return
Finding candidates through social channels means you’ll be asking them to share information with you via possibly public means. For the process to work, employers need to be willing to share information as well (while, of course, carefully and closely guarding any personal information they might have about their applicants).
Morton says some employers express staunch resistance to putting jobs on Twitter, when in fact, the listings in question are all on Twitter through unofficial channels anyway. For Campbell Mithun, the finishing touch of a successful social media-driven hiring process was getting to showcase the talented, web-savvy young people they had selected. Kristine Olson, the agency’s director of corporate communications, had a communications strategy in place that was designed, fittingly, to use social media channels to share the results of the campaign, noting that the HR team “had to be really open to allow us to publicize who we were hiring.”