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LEAD. GROW. INSPIRE.
They would seem a perfect fit: social media and recruitment. After all, social media is all about people, and your organization is probably looking for a few good ones. But many employers don’t know how to start using social media to recruit talent and fill their open positions. Some have plunged in unprepared and found themselves overwhelmed by the amount of work involved and frustrated by the lack of immediate interest.
But the potential benefits of using social media for recruiting are considerable. Let’s face it: Social media may be the easiest place to find anyone these days. Most of us are active daily on at least one platform. And, once you connect with a candidate, you can engage in a two-way conversation. Through this interaction, and by perusing their public posts, you’ll get a much better idea of an individual’s character and personality before the first interview.
What’s more, recruiting on social media is becoming a more widely traveled avenue to hiring. In 2019, marketing research firm Clutch reported that 14% of recent hires found their jobs on social media. A 2020 Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals revealed that 71% of hiring decision-makers believed social media is an effective way to screen applicants.
Here are some tips for getting in on this exciting trend without getting burned by unrealistic or unclear expectations.
1. Establish a bona fide presence.
The thing about social media is you can’t fake it. Most people — particularly Millennials and Gen Z — have been online long enough to intuitively detect a contrived or “preconstructed” social media account full of autogenerated posts.
If you’re serious about using social media for recruiting, you need to first find your voice on one or more platforms and show that you’re a real entity with actual humans sharing authentic thoughts and expertise. For organizations that haven’t done much online other than maintain a website, this could mean doing very little in the way of recruiting for a while as you amass a history of posts, establish a brand identity and, hopefully, build a loyal following.
2. Get employees involved.
Having more than one social media account associated with your brand can help nurture credibility, assuming the tone and messaging are consistent. When your staff members are online, posting as excited employees of a vibrant organization, outsiders are likely to take notice — and some of them may even want to join up!
That said, this is a tricky area. Employees need to somehow demonstrate their individuality while staying as consistent as possible with your organization’s communications and remaining compliant with a stated social media policy. That last part is worth emphasizing: If you’re going to have staffers posting on your behalf, be sure you’ve laid out guidelines and provided some training about what’s OK and what’s not.
3. Devise a SMART strategy.
When business owners engage in strategic planning, one approach we suggest our clients consider is to set “SMART” goals. This system has been used with success for many years and the abbreviation stands for:
This can be a good way to approach social media recruiting as well. Gather leadership and perhaps some particularly knowledgeable employees. Identify what you want to accomplish and how you might realistically get there within a reasonable time frame.
For example, say you have 10 open positions. You could set a goal of filling two of them (20%) by recruiting candidates on social media over, say, six months. Track your progress and hold update meetings to discuss what’s working and what isn’t.
At the end of the time frame, review whether you achieved your goals. If you did, talk about how you can build on that success. If you didn’t, brainstorm what impeded you and how to adjust your strategy going forward.
4. Share good content.
Along with not faking it on social media, you also need to “give as good as you get.” In other words, organizations can’t look at social media as a giant job board from which they pluck candidates and do little else. To gain attention, build credibility and get those all-important “likes,” employers need to share good content. This might include:
Among the chief reasons to dedicate the time and resources to creating strong content is to draw the attention of passive candidates. These are people who aren’t actively looking for a job but who could be swayed to apply with an organization that really appeals to them. A collection of hiring statistics posted by LinkedIn Talent Solutions in 2015 stated that "70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent who aren’t actively job searching."
To maximize the effectiveness of your content, you’ll need to use hashtags and niche networks to channel it toward those most interested. You’re probably familiar with the concept of a hashtag, but you might find it challenging to pick just the right ones without getting lost in the noise of social media. It takes some practice.
Niche networks are smaller social media platforms that cater to specific interests or professional backgrounds. For instance, Behance is a place for graphic designers to connect and share their work, while Stack Overflow is for coders.
Embrace the possibilities.
Employers were handed a historic challenge in 2021 with the "Great Resignation" — a marked trend of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs in reaction to the tumultuous changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and other developments. If your organization is looking for talent, social media may represent an overlooked and underutilized way to find who you’re looking for.
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.