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The Onrec Online Recruitment Magazine Feature: Social Media - Advice in a coherent strategy

Written by Lauren Mackelden, Features Editor, Onrec

Written by Lauren Mackelden, Features Editor, Onrec

It is no longer enough to dabble in social media- a coherent strategy is required. If you are losing your way, let our experts guide you.

A social media recruitment strategy isn’t a ‘nice to have’ anymore; it’s a must-do, says Andrew Simmonds, associate director in the consumer practice for Harvey Nash Executive Search APAC. According to a 2014 Jobvite survey, 93% of recruiters used or planned to use social to support their recruiting efforts, with 73% planning to increase their investment in social recruiting.  However,  Simmonds comments that what’s noteworthy is that social media is now being used for multiple purposes as opposed to solely traditional means, such as job postings and networking: “ Today, recruiters are deploying social media for multi-pronged strategies: to showcase employer brand, highlight company culture, vet candidates and generate employee referrals.”

Simmonds emphasises that organisations get the most return on social media when existing talent promotes the roles in their organisation to their personal social networks. “By doing this, they are fostering innovation and corporate social responsibility, as opposed to advertising or promoting roles. It’s a positive example showing employee engagement and recruitment coming together. That said, to be successful it’s key that recruiters tailor their social media strategy based on the opportunity at hand, as opposed to taking a one-size-fits-all approach.”

For example, Simmonds recommends that if you are targeting candidates with a college degree between the ages of 18-25, you may want to consider using Twitter, short clips on Vine, Instagram or Snapchat. For middle management, Facebook and LinkedIn are still the social networks of choice. “For senior management, LinkedIn continues to lead the way.  For senior executive hiring, many executives still choose not to set up and maintain their profiles on social media and therefore, the only way to reach them is through building and developing relationships one-on-one.”

So, when developing a hiring strategy, Simmonds advises recruiters should ask two questions. First, ‘which generation are we targeting?’, and then ‘do we have the resources, technology and ideas to be able to best maximize the social media tools at our disposal?’

On the employer side, social and professional media is already an established recruitment channel. However, Jamie Bowler, Marketing Director of The IT Job Board considers that there has been a shift in the field with the launch of platforms such as Open Web, where  data from 130 leading social and professional media sites - is aggregated to present a single profile view. Bowler says that this provides a highly time efficient solution, enabling recruiters to unearth both active and passive fresh talent. “Such tools are particularly valuable to recruiters in niche sectors such as IT where candidates will typically be active across multiple social media sites.” Bowler comments that on the jobseeker side, social and professional networks offer a deeper lens on their capabilities. It is therefore increasingly important that seekers engage with relevant networks to showcase their market expertise. If seekers can harness social and professional networks effectively, it can provide an edge that will be attractive to potential employers.

Brian Matthews, managing partner at The Candidate, cautions that social media recruitment success can be hard to measure, saying that candidates like to keep their job search private and are unlikely to engage in public online conversations. “Often they will see a job posted on social media and then submit an online application form or contact the recruiter directly via email or phone. Because of this, recruiters need to use social media for more than promoting job vacancies.”  Matthews believes that building an online presence and having useful online tools that make it easy for job seekers to reach you is important, saying that sharing interview, job application and CV tips is also a brilliant way to build a positive profile and place yourself as a leader in your industry.  Recent developments have meant that social media's importance in the recruitment process is set to take another step up, according to Matthews. “With video CV’s and YouTube channels from recruitment agencies starting to appear, both prospective clients and candidates see a 3rd dimension personality. Recruitment agencies are starting to use YouTube channels in a number of ways including; video testimonials from clients and candidates as well as job hunting and interview tips for candidates. With 90% of clients stating that personality is the main attribute that they use to decide on their potential employee, social media has become an important tool to measure cultural compatibility.”

What are the differences re: strategies and candidates between types of social media?

Lauren Riley, Social Media Marketing Manager at Bubble Jobs gives an overview of the most common options. “Each social media platform should be treated as entirely different as they all serve different needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so each platform needs its own strategy from both the recruiter and the job seeker’s point of view:

Facebook is a much more personal and private platform, so the best way to approach recruitment is to build up an audience on a dedicated careers page rather than trying to connect with individual profiles. Sharing valuable content rather than solely job vacancies will build up a dedicated following.

LinkedIn is much more about finding the right candidate directly. It is – first and foremost – a professional network, so it’s much easier to find people based on their skills, work history and qualifications. So, this is the best platform to use to source candidates directly, however it’s also useful to build a strong Company Page and brand to attract candidates rather than fishing for them. LinkedIn is also a strong networking tool, so making the most of LinkedIn groups to see which candidates are vocal in and knowledgeable about their industry will help to find the best talent.












Twitter is a more instant way of promoting your job vacancies to the masses, and it’s fairly easy to attract people to your role, if you use it properly. Savvy job seekers will have searches set up on Twitter to pull through tweets with certain keywords and hashtags, so it’s important to keep your tweets simple and to-the-point. For example, a tweet saying something like “#SEO Manager wanted at finance company in #Manchester c£30k” with a link to the job in question would be much more effective than “Do you enjoy search engine optimisation? Great vacancy at a business in the North West!”  The latter tweet lacks any searchable content, and won’t be picked up by anyone who doesn’t already follow your account.”

Pitfalls to avoid:

According to Lauren Riley, the common pitfalls of using social media for recruitment include the time it takes to manage social media accounts, create content and approach candidates directly.

“To maintain a professional online presence, as well as engaging your audience regularly and building an audience takes time and resources, and may require the company bringing in additional staff to manage the campaigns. This is something that might not be possible for smaller recruitment agencies and businesses.

Also, one of the big mistakes recruiters make on social media is spamming their accounts with the same generic job vacancy posts over and over, without offering any additional value to their presence. Not customising content to each platform, or posting the same content over and over can put potential candidates off a company and discourage them from applying – a nightmare scenario for any recruiter or hiring manager.”

In the future, Riley predicts that most recruitment will be done on social media – with intelligent tools that find relevant candidates on social media being eventually the norm within recruitment. “Also, recruitment agencies and brands will turn to job advertising platforms that maximise the potential of social media and use it as part of their advertising services over the more generic job boards that simply offer basic recruitment advertising. More creative recruitment campaigns will appear, with certain jobs requiring applications via social media that showcase a candidate’s innovation and creativity rather than the traditional CV. Job seekers will visit the likes of Twitter as their first port of call for job hunting, and will place more of an emphasis on networking with recruiters and hiring managers online before they apply for jobs in the traditional manner.”

Martyn Makinson, Managing Director of Ionic Recruitment says that at his company they use social media sites such as LinkedIn on a regular basis to search for candidates and it’s also a valuable resource for professional networking. On other social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, Makinson says hirers are trying to get a more personal view of a candidate, rather than the CV format they see on LinkedIn. This is where Makinson feels that screening via social media becomes more problematic. “Some suggest that reviewing a candidate’s Facebook and Twitter pages is not ethical, as they are not used for professional purposes. In this sense, businesses should limit their use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for the purposes recruitment. However, hirers argue that social media is a public forum; unless the candidate chooses to make their profile private.”

Makinson warns that screening via social media should be treated with caution, as there are no clear guidelines with regards to what it is acceptable and what is not. “Eventually, it would be beneficial for both hirers and employees to abide by clear rules and the same openness that is carried out in all other aspects of recruitment. While social media can be helpful, it should not override existing recruitment tools and methodology.”

Chris Brown, UK Director at LinkedIn Talent Solutions recommends encouraging employees to act as ambassadors and advocates, saying: “Smart people know smart people, and your current employees can open doors to great hires.Social media provides a platform for giving potential candidates an authentic picture of working for your organisation in terms of the types of jobs available, the culture, and the work-life balance. A great way to do this is to encourage employees to share their work activity and experiences, whether on their personal profiles and in groups or via updates on your company pages.”

Brown also advocates that you are an active participant in groups and discussions and produce compelling content. “Not all content is created equally. Make sure blog posts, imagery, or video you produce offer valuable insights into your organisation. The good news is you don’t have to create everything from scratch, but can share links to news relevant to your audience. On social media, anything can be a starting point for conversations between you and prospective candidates.”

Also, don’t forget the power of passive candidates, according to Brown, eighty-five per cent of professional aren’t actively looking for a new role but would be open to the right opportunity. As Brown concludes, “A strong social media presence can help ensure that your employer brand – and opportunities – reach future potential hires whether they were looking for you or not. Even if you don’t currently have a vacancy to fill, it is worth engaging on social media with people you think might be a good fit further down the line. Building a pipeline of promising candidates means you will be able to move more quickly when you are hiring, and the time invested in building relationships early could pay off.”

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