Social media recruiting isn’t new—but it’s time to put strategy around your organization’s efforts.
By Audrey Roth
From the word “hashtag” being added to the Miriam Webster Dictionary to Facebook handles being featured on bus stop advertisements, social media is part of our everyday lives. Social media’s presence is not being overlooked in the hiring world either. According to Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, 93 percent of recruiters use or plan to use social media to support their recruiting efforts.
“It provides an unparalleled pool of information that can be used to source top talent. In short, it makes it much easier to find people,” says Paul Harty, president of Seven Step RPO. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easier to attract candidates without a strategy. “You can’t just post on social media that you have jobs open and pray people will pay attention. You need to create ways to engage with potential candidates,” he says.
Seventy-one percent of the U.S. labor force is on the job market, including those who are both employed and unemployed, finds the 2014 Jobvite Job Seeker Nation Study. If employers are not finding the top talent who is the right fit for the job, their tactics just may need some modifying. Even though hiring with social media is on the rise, Jobvite’s survey found 82 percent of recruiters believe their social recruiting skills to be proficient or less. So even if a social media sourcing and recruiting strategy has been implemented, it doesn’t mean it’s being done right. How can organizations change that? A roundtable of experts shared some strategies on how to effectively leverage social media when recruiting and hiring.
Research the strategy. Organizations are realizing they can’t just add a few job postings and tweets in an attempt to find top talent, but must actually implement a strategy to achieve success. “To get the most effective return on social media, you have to have a long-term strategy,” says Jim Stroud, senior director of recruitment strategies and support at Randstad Sourceright and author of sourcing and recruiting related books. “The more active a company is on social media, the more content will be out there, increasing the chance of people seeing their information, and then drawing the people to them.”
Kim Pope, vice president of recruitment solutions for WilsonHCG, says that in addition to posting relevant content and creating visual thought leadership to really engage in conversation, brand ambassador programs take social media strategies one step further. Brand ambassadors come from different business units and promote the organization through different social media channels.
“We empower them to write blogs, and interact on social media in those certain categories, and really engage in conversations externally on behalf of (the) organization to generate their networks and generate talent communities,” says Pope.
iCIMS Chief Marketing Officer Susan Vitale says Penn National Gaming has taken advantage of the strategies implemented by their product iCIMS Social Distribution—a tool that allows companies to source, recruit, and hire through social networks. “Penn National Gaming has seen their followers on Facebook skyrocket and the quality of candidates in their talent pool increase. Social Distribution is one of the primary drivers of traffic to their careers page, which is also mobile responsive,” says Vitale. By Penn National Gaming having a 360 view of their social media strategy, they are able to safeguard the success of their initiatives.
Use the relevant social media platforms. Social media channels are plentiful, so organizations shouldn’t be tied down to one, especially if it is not suitable to the industry, job, or target demographic. Although LinkedIn is known for its hiring capabilities and success, 94 percent of recruiters may be active on LinkedIn while only 36 percent of job seekers are, reports Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey.
Candidates are becoming more active and searching further, beyond just the basic social networks. In the past, LinkedIn, which is more of a job board in some ways than a social media platform, was really the only place candidates would think to look for jobs. “Our recent research through iCIMS Hire Expectations Institute shows that candidates are now looking to Twitter, Google+, and even Facebook when it comes to their job search, “ says Vitale. Pope says that they have even had successful hires from an Instagram initiative at WilsonHCG.
Stroud explains that employers should do some research to determine which platforms are right for the circumstance. “Say you’re thinking about a Pinterest page, for example, as part of your social media strategy. Take some time to research Pinterest and make sure the people you want to recruit are there. See if it’s worth your time.”
Once the networks are determined, zero in on content development and be active in postings. “Don’t spread your resources thinly across many channels. Be meaningfully engaged where you will realize the greatest return,” advises Andy Curlewis, Cielo’s director of brand, digital, and communications.
Many organizations are overlooking the advantages of Google+, says Stroud. Organizations may have been initially reluctant to add another social media platform to their already existing options when Google+ launched. “Since Google+ is Google, and you want to get a good ranking on Google, you have got to use their product,” says Stroud.
Job seekers tend to use Google’s search engine as a part of their process. “As part of our research, we analyzed 60,000 jobs posted on social media and we found that jobs posted to Google+ had nearly four times more views per job than other platforms but less than 1 percent of companies are posting jobs on Google+,” says Vitale.
Be on top of SEO. Stroud emphasizes the fact when using Google or another search engine for a job search, make sure that your website comes up at the top. “If you’re not popping up on page one then you’re going to be basically invisible to the people that are doing that search,” says Stroud. “The more that you are promoting content and your content is resonating with the audience, and you’re getting a lot of likes and tweets, then your content is going to float up to the top. As it floats up to the top, people will see and you’ll get more connected with passive job seekers.”
Utilize analytics. Another development is the use of analytics, as technological capabilities have continued to come to fruition. “Social media recruitment and strategies are a long-term investment. That’s something that we know from experience from building out our own internally,” says Pope. “It’s really important to make sure that you’re consistently, evaluating the progression and evaluating those metrics to continuously improve, and then you have to determine which metrics are most important to use to make sure it remains successful.”
Take advantage of employee referrals. Four in 10 job seekers claim that they found their “favorite or best” job through personal connections while 64 percent of recruiters rate referrals as their highest-quality source of hires, according to Jobvite’s Job Seeker Nation Study. For both parties, this avenue is ideal. Candidates who are referred to a company have a more personal connection to the organization from the onset. With social media, referrals are even easier to source in a more deliberate and relevant way.
“Social media has made it a lot easier for employees, and also companies, to share referrals with each other through social sharing,” says Pope. “This is really exciting to see because that’s where a lot of organizations see a lot of long-term success.”
Social media also allows organizations to leverage their referral programs to attract passive candidates as well—talent that isn’t actively seeking employment, but is open to new opportunities.
“A social employee referral program not only generates more qualified applicants, but also has the potential to serve as an outlet for your organization to build a reputation with passive candidates, who may be thinking of leaving their current job for a new opportunity,” says Vitale.
Convey a positive employer brand. Employers have the opportunity to share relevant information about themselves, in addition to other social media contributions by employees, customers, and news sources. “If a company has a strong employment brand or a great social media strategy then people are going to see that when they’re doing their searches on Google. They’re going to see blog posts with something positive about a brand, they’re going to see comments that someone said about a brand, and they’re going to see tweets,” says Stroud.
This helps to create a bird’s eye view of the company. “It’s really helping candidates get more of a transparent view into the organization overall,” says Kim Pope.
Even before job postings get added to the equation, companies are making a name for themselves just with their social media presence. “Besides being able to promote jobs, it is a great avenue for building an employer brand. You can showcase company events, highlight employees, company benefits, career fairs, etc.,” says Harty.
In addition to the good reviews being populated on the Internet, the opposite can occur with disgruntled employees. If a bad experience does surface, employers should not ignore it. As Stroud explains, you shouldn’t just promote your employment brand, but also protect it.
Be innovative. Companies may forget that they should be employing alternative tactics to ensure access to quality talent. “Don’t be afraid to experiment with postings and try new things,” says Harty.
“Social media provides a tremendous opportunity to leverage video, images, and get creative with branding. Do not waste the opportunity to market your organization creatively using social media,” says Vitale. “This could include using video and images to deliver your message, and not just posting your open jobs.”
Stroud points out online shoe and clothing company Zappos.com, who recently implemented a “no jobs posting” approach to their recruiting strategy. The company is eliminating job postings and just allowing interested parties to be a part of a talent community. This can connect job seekers and recruiters, and relevant parties can eventually find the best role for them, even if it was a position that they would not have normally applied for.
“I would like to see day where something like that is not really newsworthy anymore because companies are innovating and doing so many different things. And using social media to attract people is sort of like the norm,” says Stroud.
Curlewis agrees: “In three years, I hope the industry will finally have stopped talking about ‘social media recruiting’ and recognize it is simply proper recruiting. Just like we stopped calling it ‘internet recruiting,’ it will be so woven into the fabric of what we do, it won’t need a name.”