HOW TO: Start a Social Recruiting Program

by Sharlyn Lauby on November 28, 2012

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by our friends at iCIMS, a leading provider of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) talent acquisition solutions for growing businesses. For a fourth year in a row, they’ve been named one of New Jersey’s 50 Fastest Growing Companies. Congrats! And I hope you enjoy the post.)

As we get closer to the end of the year, I find myself thinking about my goals for 2013. What projects do I want to work on? What initiatives should the company  plan? As I talk with other business professionals, I’m hearing more about recruiting. Specifically, that employers will continue to recruit and, in order to find the right talent, they’ll  expand their recruiting efforts. Part of that expanded effort means human resources will need to develop a social recruiting strategy to cast a wider net.

For companies currently using social media, this will be a no-brainer. But there’s still a big gap in the number of companies using social media for recruiting. According to The Information Daily, 65% of small businesses use social media for recruiting compared to 51% of medium companies and 44% of large businesses. So while the numbers are good, there’s still quite a few organizations not on the social recruiting band wagon.

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If you’ve been thinking about using social networks for recruiting and don’t know where to start, let me assure you…it’s not all that hard. It does take a bit of planning and preparation. I’ve put together a list of things to consider when you’re trying to ramp up your social recruiting efforts.

  1. Determine your goal. The effort will not be successful if the company doesn’t have a focused conversation about why they are using social media for recruiting. Maybe it’s because of the perceived cost savings since many social sites are free. Or possibly it’s because the company’s competitive set is using social and they need to keep up. Regardless, make sure you have an honest conversation about why you’re doing it. It will drive future decisions.
  2. Choose 1-2 sites to drive traffic to. When you post something on a social networking site, often it’s a link to somewhere else. In the case of social recruiting, you might post a link to your LinkedIn company page where openings are listed. Or a link directly to your company careers page. Figure out where you want to drive traffic. And make sure those sites are up-to-date!
  3. Test the application process. Since you’re driving traffic to another site, it’s only logical to make sure the site works the way you want it to. There’s nothing worse than being redirected to another site only to discover it’s clumsy and slow.
  4. Find the demographic information for social networking sites. Despite what others might say, companies do not need a presence on every social media site. They do need a presence on the sites that fit their audience. Since we’re talking about recruiting, chances are good that a company needs to be on LinkedIn. But maybe not Pinterest. Every social networking site shares their demographics – do a quick search and find the right site for your audience.
  5. Prioritize social networking sites. This is probably my personal preference, but I wouldn’t recommend starting a half-dozen accounts at the same time. Once you know the sites it makes sense to recruit on, give them a priority order. For example, LinkedIn first, then Twitter and last Facebook. Pace your efforts, become proficient at one then move to the next.
  6. Create a social networking account. Before signing up for your first account, spend time thinking about what you want to call the account. Will each recruiter have their own individual account? Or will there be one company account that recruiters take turns monitoring? Decide what the avatar for the account will be. If each recruiter will have their own account, maybe the recruiters need to agree upon a few guidelines or branding elements for their avatars. If it’s a company account, will the avatar be the company logo? And what about the introduction or bio for the account? Depending upon your industry and your location, corporate counsel might have a couple of disclaimers that need to be included. Lastly, agree upon what information conceptually can be sent from the account. For example, it’s a given that you’ll send out job openings. But what else? Remember, you don’t want to just disappear during slow recruiting times. Can you send out general articles that job seekers might find interesting?
  7. Find other people and organizations to connect with. Many will tell you that the number of individuals and companies you’re connected with doesn’t matter. And that’s true. To a point. If you don’t connect with anyone, then you don’t get the benefit of others spreading the word about you. The key is balance.
  8. Establish a few introductory metrics. This one is a toughie. Social media is incredibly popular but the value metric is still being defined. But, like other forms of recruiting, establish a couple of social media metrics to gauge success. Off the top, companies should track how much applicant flow they get from social sites. No different than the old days when we tracked how much applicant flow we got from the newspaper.
  9. Find social distribution methods to increase productivity. After getting comfortable with social recruiting, the company can look for ways to automate certain aspects. I wouldn’t say automate everything because there’s still a need to be engaged on social media. But applications exist that can  increase your productivity. Also check your ATS system capabilities.
  10. Commit to reading and staying current about social recruiting. The world of social media is changing all the time. Applications change their offering. Sites increase and decrease in popularity. Once a company starts recruiting using social media, they should commit to regularly taking a pulse on their efforts (remember those metrics you developed in #8?). Ask the questions: Is this networking site still giving us results? Should we experiment with this new site?

recruiting, talent, talent management, icims, software, career, network, optimization, SEO, website, career siteThink about all these issues in concert with the rest of your recruiting strategy. Social recruiting isn’t the end all be all – it’s one tool in your recruiting toolbox. And it’s a very effective way to reach a specific audience that maybe you’re not connecting with right now. If you leverage it as the unique tool it’s intended to be, the results will happen.

Be sure to reach out to the folks at iCIMS to gain some more insight about leveraging social recruiting as part of your hiring strategy. They’d be delighted to chat with you. Also, check out their blog, like their Facebook page, connect with them on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter.

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