Listen to any recruiting podcast, read an industry newsletter or speak with a talent acquisition expert and the phrase “social recruiting” is bound to come up at some point. And for good reason — in a job seeker’s market, the competition for talent is fierce, so meeting users where they already are on a daily basis just makes sense.
But too many employers think social recruiting simply means posting a link to their career site or an open job req to Twitter or LinkedIn. Then, when it fails to have any material impact on their candidate pipeline, they write it off as nothing more than an industry buzzword. When used the right way, though, social recruiting can be a powerful way to reach, engage and convert candidates — I know, because I’ve seen it firsthand.
Disclaimer: I’m not a social media marketer by trade. I’m just someone who began recruiting through social media out of necessity (gotta love budget constraints) but soon came to realize how powerful it could be. Since I really began doubling down on social recruiting, I’ve brought in tons of qualified candidates, many of whom were ultimately hired. And I truly believe that any company who puts the effort in can see the same results. To get you started, here are some of the top takeaways I’ve learned along the years.
1. Build the Right Audience
Sharing open jobs with your network is a good start, but you can’t expect much from it if your existing connections don’t already fall into your target audience. When I first started as a sales recruiter for a fitness company, I didn’t have a very relevant network myself. And without much of a budget, I couldn’t reach the right candidates through sponsored job ads — so I had to get scrappy.
I became very intentional about creating an audience that fit the types of candidates I was looking to hire. I sent request after request to salespeople with personalized intro messages to avoid seeming spammy. Nothing novel-length — just a conversation starter that felt friendly and encouraged people to add me. Now that I’m lucky enough to work for a company with a strong brand and name recognition, I get more and more people adding me, but the idea stays the same: build out your network to the point that any posts or status updates you make can reach a wide range of qualified candidates.
Another great audience to tap into is the hiring team’s networks. When people with the same background you’re looking for in candidates reach out to their peers, you can amplify your reach that much more.
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2. Get to Know the Hiring Team
It might sound like Recruiting 101, but it’s well worth getting to know the hiring team for any position you’re recruiting for. This way, you can embed yourself in their needs and team culture, which is critical if you want to authentically promote your open roles.
I was brought into Glassdoor as a sales recruiter, and the first thing I did when I started was sit down with the Account Executive team and managers (literally — my seat was right next to theirs) to learn about them and the roles they were hiring for. I’d even shadow them on the job, sitting in on sales calls and meetings so that I could accurately speak to what the job was like for any candidates who might have questions.
Building strong relationships like this not only helped me better understand what they were looking for in candidates — it also helped me understand their communication style, team dynamic and sense of humor, all of which I try to replicate in my social posts to give candidates a preview of the culture they’d be joining. And in the end, that’s going to be the number one way you distinguish yourself from everyone else. Sure, you might have a great product or core offering, but so does Google, Facebook and every other company out there — there’s only one company with your culture, though.
3. Create Engaging Content
I realized pretty quickly that just clicking “share” on a position wasn’t going to do much — people don’t want to see some generic post with nothing more than our logo and a link to the open role. So much of selling candidates on a position is about creating an emotional connection, and a templated message just isn’t going to do that. Here are some of the approaches that have worked for me:
Whether it’s a post from a recruiter or a post from a friend, you’re more likely to engage with a social media post that makes you laugh. Our sales team has a pretty tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, so I try to incorporate that into my posts like this one, which pokes fun at the stiff, corporate stock photos that so many companies share.
Another thing that’s worked really well for me is latching onto real-world events or pop culture moments. Here’s something I posted right around when the latest Star Wars movie came out welcoming a newly-hired team member.
Office & Event Photos
Showing pictures of your office environment and activities can really help people envision themselves working there. While a cool, modern workspace doesn’t hurt, you don’t need a recently renovated office to impress your audience — candidates tend to appreciate a peek inside the company regardless.
There’s a reason you’re seeing so many videos on all of your feeds lately — it works! You don’t need fancy equipment or a professional video team, either. An iPhone and some enthusiasm will do just fine. For best results, keep it short and snappy.
Regardless of what approach you take, what matters most is that you keep it authentic. In a more buttoned-up environment like an investment bank or law firm, some of these examples might not work, and that’s okay. You don’t want to sell candidates on a vision of your company that’s not accurate — just try to highlight what’s best or most unique about your organization.
4. Measure Success & Amplify Your Reach
After you’ve put enough content out there, you’ll have some benchmark metrics to refer to that can help you gauge what success looks like. One number to look at in particular is what percent of your audience is viewing your content. If you start with an audience of, say, 1,000 friends or connections, then you might aim to reach 200 or 300 views, or about 20 to 30 percent of your audience. Reaching that number will let you know what you’re doing is working and you should do more of it, while significantly missing that number will let you know you may need to pivot.
One thing that seems to have a particularly powerful impact on how many people your content reaches is the number of interactions it receives within the first hour or so. The more likes, comments, shares, etc. that your post gets, the more momentum it gains and the more people it seems to reach, so don’t be shy about asking your fellow recruiters or the hiring team to hit like or share!
If you don’t immediately get dozens of interactions and tons of candidates within the first couple of weeks, don’t be discouraged. While I’ve found success with social recruiting, that definitely didn’t happen overnight. It took trial and error, building up my network and being vulnerable enough to try something new. Eventually, social recruiting began to pay off for me — and if you take the right steps and stick with it, I’m willing to bet it will for you too.
James Parker is a Manager, Global Talent Acquisition at Glassdoor.