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Social Media Recruiting

Recruiting is a tough gig, particularly in challenging labor markets and niche expertise. If you are eyeing social media as a resource but feeling uncertain how to get started, you are not alone. Here are the fundamentals on using social media for recruiting. Jump in—the water is fine, and the results can be near-immediate.

What Is Social Media Recruiting?

Social media recruiting is an efficient and cost-effective way to hire top candidates. While not all HR professionals must flock to Facebook, social media can be an effective part of every recruiting funnel. If you struggle to fill your candidate pool with qualified applicants, even a mediocre social media strategy will yield immediate results. However, with a simple but purposeful strategy, you can do better than mediocre.

Social Media Recruitment vs Traditional Recruitment

Traditional recruiting methods are those that existed prior to social media: career fairs, job ads, ‘help wanted’ signs, etc. These methods may sound like ancient history, but what about Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster.com, or ZipRecruiter? All these are modern, digitized versions of traditional recruiting methods.

Social media recruiting differs from traditional methods mainly in that the platform exists to drive engagement. On modern job boards such as Indeed and ZipRecruiter, the job seekers simply search and apply to whatever jobs peak their interest. Social media platforms make it easy for users to interact with one another by reacting to posts and comments, submitting comments, or sending messages.

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram are all platforms seeking to drive engagement and interactions. On these platforms, job seekers expect to be able to do more than read a job description, and that is a good thing.

The increased interaction with your labor market through social media channels will help you adapt your recruiting strategy as times change.

Why You Should Recruit on Social Media

If you work for a large organization like Google, Amazon, or Microsoft, you may survive with less personalized and effective strategies. However, going forward, even large organizations will find it increasingly difficult to attract top talent due to the shift in job-seeker strategies. Ph.D. and co-author of The Social Media Survival Guide, Sherrie A. Madia shared that to compete, organizations large and small should consider social media “as at least one component of the broader strategy.”

The following statistics highlight the prevalence of social media in the current labor market.

  • 73% of 18-34 year-olds found their last job through social media. (Capterra)
  • 59% of recruiters rated candidates sourced through social media as “highest quality.” (Jobvite)
  • 21% of candidates said they found their dream job through social media. (Jobvite)
  • 89% of recruiters say they have hired someone off LinkedIn. (Social Meep)
  • While 94% of recruiters use social media for their jobs, only 39% of all employers use social media for recruiting and hiring—up 37% from the year before. (CareerBuilder)
  • 83% of job seekers prefer Facebook over any other social network. (Jobvite)

These statistics make it clear that there is something to be gained from using social media as part of your organization’s recruiting strategy. Here are a few of the immediate advantages your organization will gain by including social media as part of your recruiting strategy.

  • Increase your candidate pool. How many of your current employees regularly use the platforms you currently use to recruit? How many of them are active on at least one social media platform? It’s likely that your answer to the second question is higher than the first. Simply stated, more people spend more time on social media than they do on traditional recruiting platforms. If you are not currently recruiting through social media, you are missing out on a wider audience for your recruiting campaigns.
  • Attract passive job seekers. Does your current recruiting strategy bring in any passive job seekers? These are people who are open to opportunities but not actively looking for new work. LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms are used by potential employees even when they are not looking for a job. Additionally, these platforms invite all to engage, not just those who are looking for work. Watching interactions on company or industry postings may be a clue to passive job seekers that are ready for a change, allowing you to reach out and hire top talent before competitors know they are even looking. For example, scrolling through a comment thread under a post on company culture, you may find commenters expressing things such as:

“I would love to find a company that promotes x…”

“I wish more companies understood this.”

“All these thoughts are good, but this doesn’t work in the real world.”

Each of the above comments may indicate dissatisfaction with current working conditions.

  • Increased brand awareness. Relevant postings on social media will earn you reactions, comments, and shares. All of these lead to greater visibility of your post, and by extension, your brand. You don’t need to post daily, but regular consistent posts will help more people come in contact with your brand.
  • Reduced cost to hire. Unlike the majority of online job boards, social media always has a free aspect to the service. You can pay for access to a resume database, or you can search relevant keywords on LinkedIn and Facebook to find groups, pages, or people that may lead you to your best hire yet. Without monthly costs to use most platforms, you can eliminate much of the cost associated with other recruiting methods.

The Two Most Popular Social Media Platforms to Recruit On

1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most straightforward platform to go to when considering adding social media to your recruiting efforts. As a social media platform, LinkedIn focuses on professional networking. Posts that advertise jobs, articles about company culture, and solicitations for employment are all commonplace. However, if your LinkedIn posts are always advertising job roles, you might quickly get ignored. The following tips can help you create a more effective LinkedIn recruiting strategy.

  • Be a contributing member of the platform. Any company can have a LinkedIn profile page. Admins of the company account can post just like a standard user. However, if the only comments about a company on LinkedIn are made by the company itself, other users are much less likely to engage. Here’s an example of a quick scroll through one LinkedIn feed, citing the poster, content, and number of reactions and comments. (Personal names have been changed.)
    • John Smith: personal pictures and a story about overcoming a challenge. 391 reactions, 49 comments.
    • Samsung Electronics America: article about new product. 9 reactions, 0 comments.
    • Betty Jones: picture and gratitude post about Qualtrics. 190 reactions, 8 comments.
    • Lear Corporation: short video about workplace harassment. 104 reactions, 1 comment.
    • Alsco: congratulatory post about an employee. 34 reactions, 0 comments.

Lear Corporation, which has over 600,000 followers on LinkedIn, was only able to garner 104 reactions  and 1 comment on their post, while John and Betty, who have over 5,000 connections but nowhere near 600,000, got 391 and 190 reactions each.

The point is that by keeping your company page active with a variety of kinds of posts and stories, you become a contributing member of the platform. By sharing more about your company, you reach further into your network and your networks’ networks.

  • Be accessible and responsive. You want your brand/company to be easy to research and communicate with. The best way to do this is to engage. Join LinkedIn networks relevant to your industry. Comment on posts that are relevant to you and your work. Respond to comments on your posts. The more you are social with others, the more you will find others being social with you.

John Smith’s post above garnered 49 comments, more than any other post he had made before. He also interacted with most of the comments, either by replying or reacting. People were paying attention to him, and he was showing them that he was still there and listening.

  • Be useful. There is plenty of content on LinkedIn. The platform has a specialized and unique algorithm that determines what to show to whom. Useful content garners reactions, comments, and shares. Less than useful content does not. By being useful, you get your content in front of more people.

2. Facebook

Facebook focuses on connecting people on a less professional level than Linkedin. It is about casual social interaction. The majority of the users, about 62%, are between the ages of 18-44 (Statista).

Among other purposes, Facebook has become a place in which users commonly reach out to friends and groups for recommendations. This makes it much easier to organically and intensively invite people to learn about your organization and apply. Here are a couple of tips that drive recruiting success on Facebook.

  • Join groups. Groups on Facebook are online communities generally focused on something specific. A group can be a page for a local neighborhood, or it can be a worldwide community of people who share a specific interest. Your company may join groups focused on finding and sharing job opportunities in the areas you serve, as well as local communities focused on the industry you operate in.

One recruiter reported, In recent months, my organization has struggled to hire. Our main recruiting platform was Indeed. We would receive what appeared to be plenty of applicants, but only about 20% of candidates scheduled for an interview would show up. Even increasing our Indeed budget did not increase the candidate pool enough to keep up with our growing client base. We started joining groups on Facebook and posting job ads there. A basic and un-creative approach to using the platform, I admit. However, we more than doubled our candidate pool, and at least half of our new hires since using Facebook have come from this platform.

  • Be casual. Facebook is not LinkedIn. You shouldn’t try to make it that way. When you interact with potential candidates through Facebook, you will be able to see their profile picture, and likely a bit of their profile page as well. What you see on Facebook is probably how users share and present themselves to friends and casual acquaintances. This is likely to differ from how they present in the professional environment. To “be casual” is mostly about being aware of the relaxed presentation of users and their interactions with you through the platform. You can screen candidates for professionalism later, but when seeking to grow your candidate pool through Facebook, you need to be comfortable with the casual nature of the interactions you will have.

How to Create a Winning Social Media Recruitment Strategy

Creating a winning social media strategy is an ongoing process. As your organization evolves, the type of employee you need will shift. It’s also a challenge to understand the changing conditions of the labor market your talent is in. The following steps will help you focus on the candidate and make decisions based on their habits, attitudes, and preferences. The last step is likely the most critical, as without it, any strategy will be unsustainable.

Step 1: A Candidate Profile

The first step of a winning social media (or any other recruitment strategy) is to know your target. Building a candidate profile is an effective way to visualize your target. A good candidate profile includes not only a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), but also their interests outside of work.

You may want to build more than one profile. Give the candidate a name and a picture (you can find the pictures through Google images). Make sure one profile is male and one is female; this helps eliminate gender bias when building a recruiting strategy. Skills needed may be the same for each profile, but try to imagine someone with a different skill set who could also perform the role successfully. In the end, you want to have two candidate profiles of distinctly different people who could each perform the role successfully. The greater the detail, the easier it will be to make decisions on how to target the candidates you seek, as you’ll see in Step 2.

Step 2: Identify Which Social Media Platforms to Use

After building your candidate profiles, you will have a good sense for who you are trying to target and what their KSAs and interests are. This will help you understand what social media platforms they are likely to use.

For example, a career business man who enjoys reading professional development books and attending seminars is likely to spend more time on LinkedIn than Facebook. On the other hand, a mechanical engineer who loves CAD design and 3d printing might spend more time on Facebook. On Facebook, they would likely be a part of one or multiple 3d printing groups, because Facebook is a better platform to seek help from the community as they share projects, get new ideas, or learn more.

Use your candidate profiles to identify which platform or platform(s) your target is likely to use and how they are likely to use it.

Step 3: Test the Platform

In Step 2, you identified what platform your target candidate is likely to be using and how they are using it. Now you need a way to test your theory. Log on to the platform and interact in the way you believe your target would. You don’t need to post, react, or comment, but navigate in the way you imagine your target candidate would.

Returning to the example of the engineer and 3d printing hobbyist above, you would log onto Facebook and navigate to a 3d printing page. Once there, you would scroll through the posts, view the comments on posts that seem interesting, and pay attention to who is saying what.

Does it appear that your target candidate might be one of the posters or commenters on this page? If so, you have identified a specific location at which to reach your target candidate. After doing this on every social media platform you identified in Step 2, you are ready to start building a winning social media recruiting strategy.

Step 4: Where and How to Post

Now you have a clear process for how to target your ideal candidate through social media. In Step 1, you identified your ideal candidate. In Step 2, you hypothesized about which platforms the ideal candidate would use and how he or she would use it. Then, in Step 3, you confirmed your hypothesis. You now know where on social media you can find your ideal candidates. Now you need to decide how you will initiate interactions with your ideal candidate, and how often you want to solicit those interactions.

If you plan to post job ads to others’ social media pages, you need to make sure you are aware of any page restrictions. Some have none, some have frequency restrictions, and some don’t allow any job advertising at all. Even if you can’t post a job on the pages you believe your ideal candidate frequents, participating in the page can still help. Here are a few ideas.

  • Make a post inviting others’ opinions on a recent event
  • Ask for a recommendation
  • Share a project in progress or a challenge you are dealing with, and ask for feedback and suggestions
  • Interact with those already posting or commenting. Start a conversation with commenters or posters you believe might fit your candidate profile.

Your goal here is to make sure you are clearly inviting others to interact beyond viewing your post and scrolling on.

Posts on your own page should also invite interactions. The more people interact, the more the social media platform will share your post with others. However, unlike posts you place on others’ pages, posts on your own page are likely to be viewed by people navigating to your page specifically. Posts on your own page may be longer and include more information. This will allow those specifically navigating to your page to discover and learn more about your company.

Be aware that long posts with lots of text will be condensed on users’ screens and display a “show more” button. Make sure you have a good hook that will be visible before the cutoff. Consider putting your invitation to interact at the beginning of the post.

Step 5: Assign Ownership

The last step is to assign ownership. Who will be responsible for ensuring your social media strategy is carried out? Depending on the strategy, number of platforms, and how you plan to interact, you may need one or multiple people assigned. Make sure it is clear who is doing what. If ownership is not clearly assigned, even the best social media strategy is likely to fail. This step is the simplest, but may be the most critical.

Measuring the Success of Your Strategy

Remember that just because you don’t hire an employee from a particular platform doesn’t mean your efforts are wasted. It does, however, mean you need to take time to revisit and refine your strategy. Tracking this data over time will help.

  • Applicants garnered per week per platform
  • Successful applicants per week per platform
  • Average performance rating of employee by hiring platform
  • Average tenure of employee by hiring platform

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Social Media Recruiting

What is the most popular social media platform for recruiting?
Probably LinkedIn. The platform itself is designed to allow companies to post jobs. The platform focuses on professional communities and networking. All this combines to make LinkedIn a straightforward choice when starting to add social media to your recruiting strategy.
Do I need to spend money to be successful in recruiting on social media platforms?
No. Depending on the platform and the candidates you are seeking, it is easy to proactively identify groups or individuals that fit your ideal candidate without spending money. Proactive recruiting strategies on most channels are also free.

Thomas Gillespie

Thomas is a self-coined People Engineer. He is passionate about an employee first mindset and exposing HR as the single most important resource of any business. Despite a fascination with physics and engineering , Thomas found his greater passion was for businesses and people. Thomas received his Bachelors of Science in Organizational Development and Human Resources from The Marriot School of Management. After his undergrad, Thomas worked in industrial laundry, and retail before returning to the Marriot School of Management for his MBA. Thomas now works as the Director of Home Care for Simplicity Home Care.

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