What is Social Recruiting? (And How to Make the Most of It)

What is Social Recruiting? (And How to Make the Most of It)

Social media has already revolutionized how we communicate, play, socialize and work. With its combination of broad reach and precise targeting, it is also the perfect channel for recruitment.

We live in a world that is hugely influenced by technology and the networking solutions that the Internet has provided us with have changed the way we do things. The power of digital opportunities is limitless and we are now seeing massive shifts in how businesses perform processes from marketing to recruitment. Social recruiting is one trend that is becoming increasingly popular with recruitment teams for talent acquisition.

What is social recruitment?

Melanie Benwell, Managing Director at PathWorks Personnel, offers this definition:

“Social recruiting is using social media and it’s many platforms to buttress existing recruiting methodologies.”

Whilst HRZone describes social recruitment as:

“Social recruitment is concerned with sourcing candidates for jobs via social media channels and social media networks.”

Ultimately, social recruitment, or social hiring, is the use of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to find and attract the right candidates. There are many tactics that can be utilized, including directly advertising jobs, creating viral content and searching for suitable individuals.

Social recruitment can help reduce the time and cost of recruiting. With immediate access to greater volumes of information, recruiters can learn, adapt and improve their campaigns in real time. Its global reach means messages can reach much further without losing effectiveness, while the depth of information available enables them to be delivered strategically. Social hiring can also be very cost-effective, particularly when weighed against the large overheads of professional recruiters and head-hunters.

What platforms are being used for social recruitment?

LinkedIn is an incredibly well known platform for career networking and with 467 million users it has an enormous reach. Being able to search through LinkedIn profiles enables recruiters to find their ideal candidates, even if they have not applied for a role at the company they are recruiting for. And it is not just LinkedIn that is being used for social recruiting, according to a recent post from SearchHRSoftware, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are also being used for social hiring.

Social recruitment is not purely about searching for potential candidates; LSE Careers state that businesses are using social media for:

  • Brand management
  • Advertising
  • Researching candidates
  • Headhunting
  • Referrals

Who uses social hiring?

Social channels are commonly used in addition to traditional means by recruitment agencies, but any organization with the resource can also take it on in-house. This can be done manually, by creating and updating posts to different channels, or through specialized software.

Social recruitment software manages the coordination and delivery of messages across multiple channels. It collects and collates the data from each of the streams and overlays additional information to help recruiters monitor campaign progress in real-time. It can tie in to other systems to automatically send notifications to applicants or administrators, maintain databases of candidates or to manage landing pages. However, these specialist systems are typically only used by large companies or recruitment agencies with the expertise to manage them.

What sort of jobs can be recruited socially?

Any job can be advertised through social media. However, like any other campaign, they will only be successful if they are correctly targeted.

A campaign that tries to blanket every platform will be unwieldy, so it’s better to focus on a select few. The big names like Facebook and Twitter have the most audience share, but specialist platforms like GitHub or Quora, where appropriate, may generate a better response. Recruiters are very active on LinkedIn, but typically for more senior or experienced roles. Finding out which platforms existing employees use is a good place to start.

Some types of role are more suited to social media than others. Some candidates may not be on any types of social media at all, so it’s best to use social hiring in combination with other tools.

What can social recruiting do that traditional recruitment methods cannot?

Whilst social media recruiting is a fairly new concept, there is still plenty of evidence to show that it has been used to great success. And it is being used by a large majority of businesses already - 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn and 55% use Facebook, according to Jobvite.

There are many different benefits of social recruiting, including:

  • Reduced costs – No need to pay to place expensive ads on job vacancy websites.
  • Bigger reach – Recruiters can find people who may not be actively looking for a new job but are open to new opportunities.
  • Modernised approach – Millennials have been brought up in a technically modern world, where much of their social interactions take place online. Social media is a way of life for them. With a large volume of roles being technology based, applicants often want to work for companies that show they apply modern ways of working.
  • Long-term reputation rather than snapshot of ability – A LinkedIn profile paints a picture of how well connected people are and how they are perceived in their working roles. This gives stronger evidence of suitability than a CV that could have been written for them by someone else or a one-hour interview.

Also, according to ACAS, social media substantially increased the quality of candidates. So there really are a large number of benefits to be gained from using this approach, particularly for roles that are notoriously difficult to find the right candidates for.

How to use social media for recruitment

Social media can play a part at various stages of the recruitment process. But to make it work requires research and a clear strategy as well time and effort.

General social marketing can raise the profile of the company and its brand. Content around the perks of working there, testimonials from employees and Glassdoor reviews can help engage audiences in advance of the job spec being released. Once the vacancy is officially open, targeted advertising can reach the audiences specified by location, interests, previous roles and qualifications.

Social media can be used as a screening tool, to gain a broader image of applicants and gauge whether they might be a good cultural fit for the company. Alternatively, the information available can be used to identify potential candidates and proactively invite them to apply. This is a more time-consuming and labor-intensive tactic, so it is generally more suitable for senior or hard-to-fill roles.

Finally, social platforms can be used simply for communication. Messaging applications like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger are increasingly considered acceptable for formal and professional conversations, especially amongst younger people. Using social media to initiate a conversation rather than a phone call can help your brand connect with a candidate from the outset.

Pitfalls to avoid

Like any other type of communication on social media, there are plenty of mistakes that are easy to commit when social hiring: using the wrong tone of voice, using the same content across platforms, failing to respond in a timely way and so on. Poor performance in social media is often down to a failure to put in the preparatory work in research, planning, strategy and analysis. HR teams may want to seek advice early on from someone experienced in social media or digital marketing.

There are many legal and ethical considerations in the use of social media, particularly around the use of public information for screening purposes. For example, if only some of the candidates are on social media, is it fair to use their information in the decision-making process? What criteria will the team use to evaluate a candidate, and would it be possible to prove there was no unlawful discrimination involved? Is it acceptable to engage an individual in conversation without making it clear they are recruiting?

The recruiting team must be realistic with their expectations regarding expenditure, man-hours, timelines and response. It’s possible to recruit socially for free, but it is far more effective if there is a budget for paid advertising and sponsoring content. Even when scheduling software is available to manage the campaign, it will still require a considerable amount of time to monitor and maintain.

The success of social campaigns can also be difficult to quantify. If its cost-effectiveness is likely to become an issue, the campaign must be designed from the outset so that meaningful data can be captured and tied to other sources of information, for example website analytics, direct emails and inbound phone calls.

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