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The impact of social media marketing on recruiting new staff

Sallie-Ann Allen, Head of Operations at Networks First

Sallie-Ann Allen, Head of Operations at Networks First

Finding and attracting the right candidates to fill vacancies has always been a challenge for businesses regardless of size; but, up until recently, it has always been a sellers market – vacancies would typically have dozens of applicants, all vying for that one position. 

However, things are changing, and fast. The 2014 employment landscape is now very much a buyer’s market. For example, by Q2 of this year, CV-Library found that, on average, there were only six applicants per job in the pharmaceutical and scientific jobs sector. Unemployment is at its lowest since 2008.

We think the digital branding, social media and the ‘hive mind’ mentality of online conversation is helping to drive this change. To remain competitive, UK employers are, subsequently, having to make significant changes to their online marketing strategy, and this in turn brings Human Resources team closer to the marketing discussion.

Human Resources managers who are looking to find qualified and capable candidates to fill new roles can no longer rely on the fact that they’re simply offering a job anymore. They need to demonstrate the value they can add to a candidate’s career, and closer collaboration with marketing the brand of their business online has become crucial. Social media can be used to demonstrate a competitive wage in action, as well as showing how a business offers attractive benefits such as further training or a flexibility to accommodate individual working needs.

Generation Y now accounts for around 27% of the work force and expect a lot more from their prospective employers; they’ve got increased expectations to support individuality, a better work/life balance, and to be allowed to learn in a way that suits them. They’re far more forward with their opinions, which is fostering a much healthier relationship between employee and the business and creating a fiercely loyal workforce. This is in turn shaping the way a company is marketing itself through its employees. They are also, of course, the natural adoptive generation of social media with 89% of 18-29 year olds being active on social media.

The convergence of HR and Marketing

Social media has completely changed the human resources landscape, and as an HR professional I find the influence that social media is having on attracting and retaining employees hugely fascinating.  It’s an area that, generally, HR is taking a lot more notice of.

Forward-thinking companies are coming to realise this and more time and money is being invested in employee advocacy, which is where the convergence between HR and Marketing really becomes clear.  Employee development and training has always come under the HR banner, but as advocacy schemes develop, this means employees are also becoming part of the marketing function of the business. 

People are almost 10 times more likely to follow a person on Twitter than they are a company, so what your employees are saying online, not just about your company, is massively important.  Allowing employees to post on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Tubmlr and Facebook not only shows that they’re being given the freedom to use these sites, but it demonstrates a trust between the company and employee that is often hard to convey to job applicants.

Using marketing to attract new recruits

I think we’re going to see a continued convergence of two very disparate teams, with marketing initiatives being developed specifically by HR departments.  The Chief Operating Officer of Box, the file-sharing giant, gave a great example of how marketing is now influencing recruitment, having said recently “Box really was all about marketing and not about product”.  He equated the company’s rapid growth and success down to better marketing than rivals, which in turn helped them attract high quality staff.

Marketing teams have been early adopters of new technologies for many years in order to promote the business; email marketing, CRM systems, and more recently, social media.  As social media has grown, so have the opportunities for HR to engage with employees and candidates in new ways.  Ultimately, the job of employee recruitment and employee advocacy will continue to remain with HR professionals, but will increasingly rely upon marketing initiatives to drive them forward.