SEMA News—March 2013

By Joe Dysart

Recruiting With Social Media

For Many Businesses, Better Candidates at Reduced Cost

Social media is now a serious player in employee recruitment, in many cases significantly reducing the cost per hire for companies while simultaneously bringing in higher-quality talent, according to many recruiters.Social media is now a serious player in employee recruitment, in many cases significantly reducing the cost per hire for companies while simultaneously bringing in higher-quality talent, according to many recruiters.

“Underneath the iceberg of vacant jobs advertised on job boards and newspapers, a strong, invisible current of talent is ingeniously using social media to identify and strategize their next career moves,” said Charles Van Heerden, general manager at WaveBox Consulting.

Jill Erickson agreed. She is the chief revenue officer at Gild, a recruiting agency specializing in computer programmer hires.

“Digital and social media are completely remodeling the way organizations identify, engage and recruit today’s best candidates,” she said.

A full 75% of recruiter respondents to the “2012 Talent Acquisition/Recruiting Survey” by Staffing Industry Analysts thought that the use of social media in recruiting was a wise move. And a Jobvite survey of more than 1,000 recruiting pros found that 49% of those who use social media to recruit reported that the tool brought in higher-quality job candidates.

Of course, not everyone is convinced. More than half (55%) of 200 human resources directors surveyed in the United Kingdom during the spring of 2012 saw social media as an ineffective recruitment tool. And an additional 15% of that group remained unconvinced that social media was worth the investment.

“While professional networking sites such as LinkedIn continue to connect business professionals, our research shows that hiring managers still prefer more traditional recruitment methods, such as using online job boards, employee referrals and recruitment consultancies,” said Phil Sheridan, a U.K.-based managing director at Robert Half, the recruiting consulting firm that conducted the survey. “It seems most employers still believe this to be the most effective approach for screening candidates and assessing competencies.”

But while there are plenty of naysayers, proponents countered that the disenchanted just may be doing it wrong. Too many businesses, they said, make the mistake of simply broadcasting job openings on the social networks and hoping for the applicants to roll in. (If you tweet it, they will come.)

While that method generally yields marginal results, businesses experiencing the greatest success using social media for recruiting realized that their presence on communities such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter must be a credible, ongoing, two-way conversation.

“The importance of reputation management cannot be overemphasized,” said WaveBox’s Van Heerden, “and a high level of authenticity needs to exist.”


At Facebook, staffers make it easy for employers and job candidates to connect.
At Facebook, staffers make it easy for employers and job candidates to connect. 

Moreover, many human resources departments overlook the fact that all those social interactions company employees are engaging in on the networks every day can easily be transformed into recruiting opportunities with just a little ingenuity.

Bottom line: If you’re considering adding social media to your web recruiting mix, experts such as Van Heerden and others suggest that you incorporate these best practices into your strategy:

Think Long-Term: Generally, social-media recruiting is an ongoing investment centered on building and nurturing relationships. If you’re looking for a quick hit, you’ll have only marginal results.

Cultivate Two-Way Conversations: Companies that see social media as just another broadcasting medium are doomed. Social media is by its nature a two-way conversation. So you’ll want someone on staff continually interacting with prospective job candidates on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks where your candidates congregate.

Create a Social-Media Talent Pool: As you monitor the conversations your company is engaging in with prospective candidates, top talent will naturally emerge. Once you’ve identified these individuals, filling your next position can be as easy as cherry picking from la crème de la crème.

Enlist Employees as Company Emissaries: Employees encouraged to participate beyond company walls on social media naturally gravitate toward those of like minds and skills. Chances are, they’ll also have a very good idea about who the best candidates are based on those interactions. Offer a commission for successful employee recommendations arising from those conversations, and you’ll soon have a reliable, new source for future employees.

Develop a Company Alumni Network: Employees who leave your business on friendly terms can become excellent scouts for future hires. Actively create and nurture an alumni network of these former employees, and encourage them to socialize freely on the social networks with your current employees. The next time you have a position to fill, your alumni will be a great go-to source.

Go Graphic: Pinterest, one of the fastest-growing social networks on the web, got popular by inviting people to post image collections of the things and thoughts that move them. Many businesses are leveraging this environment to create vibrant image collections of what it’s like to work at their companies.

Consider Human Resources Software That Is Driven by Social Media: Human resources packages, such as those from Jobvite, make the most of social media in the prospecting and hiring process. Find a package that’s right for your business, and commit to it.

Closely Integrate Mobile Into Any Effort: The world—along with social media and web recruiting—is quickly embracing mobile as the primary device for computing. Stay ahead of the trend. Ensure that every facet of your social-media recruiting is easily accessible via mobile.

Evaluate Targeted Facebook Advertising: Facebook enables you to advertise job openings using highly specific search criteria, including age, sex, location and specific keywords related to the position. Once you’ve tweaked the optimum combination of variables, Facebook calculates how many of its members fit your search parameters and allows you to advertise on a pay-per-click or pay-per-impression basis. You can also pre-set the maximum budget you’re willing to spend, and you can run your ad on Facebook continuously or during a certain period.

Work Those Twitter Hashtags: You can bring in a highly specific group of job applicants on Twitter using well-thought-out hashtags. One example: Tweeting #secretarialjob will trigger a torrent of interest, most of it unwanted. By comparison, #secretarialjobKansasCity is a bull’s-eye.

Create a Social-Media Recruiting Position: Not every business can afford the luxury. But those with deeper pockets should have a full-time staff position dedicated to leveraging social media in web recruiting. Technology, culture and perceived cool morph at a blistering pace on the social networks. You’ll get the most bang for the buck with someone who knows what’s what—and what’s so yesterday.

Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.
For more information: 646-233-4089;

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