Recruiting the best talent takes much more than posting a job to your careers page and waiting for the candidates to roll in. To connect with the best people you have to go where they go, and these days that means social media.
Believe it or not, 73% of millennials found their last job on a social network. And you can expect this trend to continue, as the average member of Generation Z — which will contribute 61 million employees to the workforce over the coming years — maintains seven social media profiles.
Despite the potential to connect with and recruit millions of candidates, many companies still haven’t embraced social media recruiting, and those that have often operate without a cohesive strategy.
Social media recruiting takes a little work to get right, but when well executed it represents a powerful advantage. This article will walk you through everything you need to know to get started.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media Recruiting
We’re big proponents of social media recruiting, but it’s important that you understand the potential risks and rewards associated with the practice to ensure you get the most out of your time and money. Before we dive in, let’s take an objective look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of social media recruiting. We’ll start with the pros:
- Tailoring your recruiting efforts to specific pools of talent. Social media platforms provide myriad options for reaching specific groups of people, allowing you to target the candidates most suited for your roles. Narrowing the applicant pool early in the recruiting process will let you spend more time focusing on the best applicants.
- Developing a holistic view of a candidate beyond their resume. The traditional resume may be great at summarizing a candidate’s professional background, but it offers little insight into who they actually are as a person. Social media recruiting allows you to develop a more comprehensive understanding of candidates, including their personality, interests and mutual connections (backdoor references are the best references).
- Connecting with passive candidates on their turf. Today, 70% of the workforce are passive candidates. Though they may be open to new opportunities, they aren’t actively looking which means traditional recruiting methods will be virtually useless. Social media recruiting allows you to get your roles in front of millions of candidates that you would never reach otherwise.
On the other hand, there are definitely some cons:
- Reinforcing unconscious biases with excessive targeting. The ability to tailor your recruiting to specific audiences can be a tremendous advantage, but with great power comes great responsibility. Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to unintentionally exclude large swaths of the population from your communications if your targeting is too narrow. Aside from being unethical, it’s also illegal so watch out.
- Exhausting time and resources keeping up with algorithms and updates. It’s unclear if the incessant changes and updates to popular social media platforms are actually intended to improve user experience or just a ploy drive us all mad, but either way, if you don’t have the bandwidth to fully commit social media recruiting may not be for you.
- Disqualifying talented candidates due to a lack of context. We’re probably all guilty of having made a snap judgement about a candidate based on a cursory scan of their resume. Unfortunately, this is also a prevalent trap with social media recruiting. One bizarre picture or status update can sour our impression of a candidate, leading to inaccurate assumptions. And you know what they say about assuming…
Using Social Media for Recruitment
Ok, now that we’ve gotten the objective stuff out of the way (hey, we told you we’re big fans of social media recruiting), let’s get into the meat of the matter. Social media recruiting offers a host of potential benefits, but let’s focus on two of the best reasons to get started:
Promote your employer brand. 69% of job seekers say that a company’s reputation is a critical factor when considering a new job. So critical, in fact, that 84% of people who are currently employed say that they would consider leaving their job if another company with a better reputation came calling. Social media is an excellent resource to promote your employer brand to potential employees that may not be looking at your job descriptions. Here are some areas to consider when creating social content:
Relay the day-to-day life at your company with content about:
- Company Culture is a major factor for people looking to upgrade their work experience. Show off the fun aspects of working at your company, like team traditions, shared interests and other quirks that make your company unique.
- Perks and benefits always play an important role when candidates compare offers. Make the connection between your top perks and benefits and how they improve the personal and professional lives of your employees.
- Employee spotlights provide insight into the individuals that make up the company and its culture. Give employees a voice in the employer brand by interviewing them about topics they care most about at their job.
Spread information in-real-time by posting about:
- Events for recruitment should absolutely be a part of your social agenda to boost publicity and attendance. You should also promote growth and learning opportunities for employees, like conferences and company sponsored training. Post pictures and videos from your events across your primary social platforms.
- Job openings are a simple way to encourage candidates who are already interested in your company to apply for open roles. Share some enticing information about the role and company that’s tailored to the specific candidate persona you’ve established for the position.
- Live Q & A forums open up conversations for prospective candidates to ask questions about the company and open roles. This can also help clarify any misperceptions or provide insight into what candidates are most interested about in your company.
Need some ideas to get your creative juices flowing? Check out our article of 19 social media examples from companies that get employer branding right.
Increase your reach. Unless you’re one of the few companies lucky enough to have candidates lining up for your jobs (and let’s be real, there are only a handful of businesses that fall into this category), it’s imperative that you reach as many potential candidates as possible. Simply put, the more qualified candidates you reach, the greater your odds of making a great hire. Social media recruiting can help you:
- Reach passive candidates who aren’t currently looking for a job and may never have heard of your company by providing them information tailored to their interests and expertise. You’ll also reach the 79% of active candidates who use social media in their job search, so it’s a win-win.
- Personalize communications efforts by reaching out to individuals on social media via direct messaging or comments to spark a conversation without coming off as spammy. You’ll also stand out as a company that takes the time to make personal connections with candidates.
- Target niche personas/industry experts with paid advertising opportunities on different social platforms. Get the information most important to candidates on the platforms they frequently engage with.
Creating a Social Media Recruitment Strategy
If you’ve made it this far, you’re in it to win it. Now it’s time to build out your initial strategy. Your strategy will change plenty over time as you learn and evolve, so you don’t need to worry about getting it perfect at the outset. Getting started is more important than getting it perfect. Keep in mind that every company has different needs, and there’s more than one way to succeed with social media recruiting. With that in mind, we’re keeping our approach broad so that you can tailor it to your needs.
Here are the 8 basic steps for creating or revamping your social media recruiting strategy.
- Research competitors & candidates: Start by figuring out what you’re up against. Figure out what platforms are most popular among your competitors, pinpoint the type of content they create for each platform and how that correlates to engagement. On the flip side, you should also research where your candidates are at — perhaps you’ll discover an untapped resource for talent acquisition.
- Create candidate personas: Before you can effectively recruit, you need to establish candidate personas for the roles you are looking to fill. Know what personality traits will add to your culture and balance that with the qualifications necessary to be successful in the role. Analyze what areas of recruitment your company struggles most with and prioritize that in your strategy.
- Set goals: You know who and where, now you need to establish measurable goals to benchmark and optimize your recruitment strategy over time. Figure out exactly what you want to accomplish with your social media recruiting strategy that you haven’t been able to do with traditional tactics.
- Determine & measure metrics: There’s lots of research on this topic, but for now, some key performance indicators to consider are time, cost and source of hire, referral rate, offer acceptance rate and social engagement. Pick the metrics that relate directly the goals and know how to effectively measure them, whether it be in an excel document or through a program.
- Choose the right social platforms: We’ll discuss some of the social media platforms most popular with recruiters in just a minute, but don’t limit yourself to those five. Depending on your industry and target personas, you may need to branch out to more niche social platforms to reach the right candidates. You may also want to consider using a social media management tool to organize your efforts and simplify analysis.
- Divide and conquer: Don’t go it alone. Your company is a group of people that collectively make up its culture and employer brand, and they can be your brand ambassadors. Create a calendar and designate different people to create content and connect with prospects.
- Train your team: While you want to relay the voices of individual employees, it’s important to retain a cohesive voice that is a true reflection of the company’s brand and mission. People use social media for a variety of purposes, so make sure to create some guidelines so that employees understand the goal at hand and will create content with that in mind.
- Reconfiguring strategy: Sit down with your team periodically and review the metrics, goals and results of your social media recruitment strategy. From there, you can find your strengths and weaknesses and adjust your resources and efforts to better meet your future needs.
Social Media Recruiting Strategies By Platform
From major players to niche networks, there are countless social media platforms out there, making it easy to connect with just about any type of candidate. With so many options, it’s important to remember that your social media recruiting strategy should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. Tailoring your efforts to each platform will improve results and maximize your investment. To that end, we’ve provided a breakdown of some of the most popular platforms to get you started. We sourced data on how many recruiters use each platform from SHRM and the best time to post from HubSpot.
LinkedIn Recruiting Strategy
How Many Recruiters Use It: 96%
Why It Matters: With more than 11 million active job postings, LinkedIn is a go-to for most recruiters, but a refresher never hurts. As the original professional social network, LinkedIn offers an unparalleled overview of a candidate’s work history. It also provides insight into their interests, endorsements and referrals.
Who’s On It: 562 million global professionals — including more than 160 million in the United States — across hundreds of industries.
How to Connect With Candidates: LinkedIn allows you to do much more than post a job. Start by connecting with and following prospective candidates. Start conversations with personalized messages introducing yourself and your company. Comment, like and share industry content to gain attention and authority. Follow, endorse and write recommendations for talented individuals to build rapport. Ask for referrals and introductions and reciprocate the favor.
Best Days to Post: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Best Times to Post: 7-8 AM, 12 PM, 5-6 PM
Facebook Recruiting Strategy
How Many Recruiters Use It: 66%
Why It Matters: Facebook may not be a dedicated professional network like LinkedIn, but it’s sheer size makes it an indispensable resource for recruiters. Its casual atmosphere can shed some light on a person’s personality away from work, and it provides countless ways to find and connect with candidates. It even offers a job board.
Who’s On It: Just about everybody. Facebook has more than 2 billion global users, including 207 million in the United States.
How to Connect With Candidates: The options are just about endless here. Follow and interact with prospective candidates. Join (or create) groups relevant to the positions you’re looking to fill. Create and share content to promote your company and employer brand. Promote recruiting and networking events. Start chats on Messenger. And, of course, post openings on the Facebook job board.
Best Days to Post: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Best Times to Post: 9 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM
Instagram Recruiting Strategy
How Many Recruiters Use It: 7%
Why It Matters: Instagram’s visual format has become hugely popular with millennials (the largest portion of the workforce) and Generation Z. Despite its popularity, less than 10% of recruiters leverage this channel, which represents a huge early mover opportunity.
How to Connect With Candidates: Curate a variety of visual content that captivates a target audience and encourages them to follow the company page. Engage with people of interest by following, liking and commenting on their content. Participate in trending topics by posting related content with appropriate hashtags. Host Q&A sessions with the Stories feature either live or with their infinite library of stickers.
Best Days to Post: Monday and Thursday.
Best Times to Post: 8-9 AM, 5 PM
Twitter Recruiting Strategy
How Many Recruiters Use It: 53%
Why It Matters: With its 280 character limit, Twitter is known for being short and sweet. That brevity isn’t a bad thing, though, as Twitter has become a go-to source for news and events. Everyone from celebrities to major companies uses Twitter to engage with people worldwide.
Who’s On It: 330 million global users, including 63 million in the US. Twitter supports more than 40 languages.
How to Connect With Candidates: Twitter gave birth to the hashtag, so start there. Search for relevant hashtags to join conversations and attract like minded candidates. Like, comment, follow, tweet and retweet to engage with candidates. Retweet and share timely information by live-tweeting and live-streaming. Pin relevant tweets to keep them visible on your profile.
Best Day to Post: Wednesday.
Best Times to Post: 12 PM, 3 PM, 5-6 PM
Youtube Recruiting Strategy
How Many Recruiters Use It: 11%
Why It Matters: If you’re one of those “back in my day” types you may want to look away: when given the option between text and video, 72% of internet users choose video. And when it comes to video, Youtube is the undisputed heavyweight. Like Instagram, few recruiters have embraced the channel, so those who get in now will have the advantage.
How to Connect With Candidates: This one is a little more straightforward. Create great video content tailored to your prospective candidates. Don’t forget to repurpose your videos on the company website and other social media channels.
Best Days to Post: Thursday and Friday.
Best Times to Post: 9-11 AM, 12-4 PM
Social Media Recruiting Best Practices
We’ve covered some high level ideas, but now it’s time to get a little more specific. Let’s walk through a few tips and best practices for recruiting on social media.
Create an editorial calendar. Producing creative content every day can be time consuming, frustrating and even feel like more effort than it’s worth. Trust us, it’s not — but it is crucial to be consistent. Simplify the process by creating an editorial calendar with daily themes to refer to when creating content. It’s okay to switch things up — the calendar is not set in stone.
Get your team involved. You are not an island, so don’t recruit like one. Get everyone at your company involved in the recruiting process and your results will skyrocket. Arm them with some pre-produced content to make things even easier.
Send direct messages. Regardless of your platform of choice, you’ll be able to send candidates one-to-one messages. This is an excellent way to start the conversation, but don’t lead with a hard sell. Create a personalized message expressing your interest in the candidate, and be sure to include specific information about the individual so they know you are serious and aren’t spamming.
Comment on their content. Odds are your prospective candidates are sharing their own thoughts and opinions on social media, which is the perfect opportunity to start a conversation. Don’t be afraid to respond directly to content they’ve posted (just don’t be creepy or generic) and encourage them to direct message you to continue the conversation.
Start a group discussion. LinkedIn and Facebook feature thousands of industry specific groups which can be fertile ground for motivated recruiters. Asking a question or sharing an opinion can spark a discussion and expose you to hundreds of potential candidates, but make sure to do more than just post your jobs. Contribute to these groups in a meaningful way and you’ll always be welcome.
Shout them out. Tagging potential candidates in a company post or @reply on Twitter can start a conversation that others can chime in on, bringing traffic to both the company and candidate’s social profiles.
Livestream an event or conference. When it comes to the digital world, video is now king. This opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to social media recruiting. Livestream an event in your office or conference at which you’re presenting. Host Q&A sessions for viewers to learn more about your company ask questions that your team can respond to in real-time. Share a behind the perspective of life at your company.
Take full advantage of hashtags. Hashtags are one of the best ways to connect with specific audiences, but do your due diligence before getting started. A hashtag’s relevancy — and the quantity of people following it — will vary by platform. Likewise, broad terms can get lost in the mix while overly specific terms may have no following. Keep brand-specific tags consistent across platforms, and always research a hashtag before using it. Make sure whatever trends related to the hashtag align with the company’s mission.
Companies Using Social Media to Recruit: Campaigns and Examples
Let’s take a look at social media recruiting in action. We’ve rounded up some examples — including everything from large corporations to small mom and pops — that demonstrate how to do it right.
The Home Depot utilizes numerous channels for social media recruiting, but the company has made a concerted effort on Youtube where they’ve developed two series: ‘Careers at The Home Depot,’ where a single employee talks about their work experience, and ‘Behind the Apron,’ where several employees talk about their personal passions and successes.
Takeaway: Bring out the individuals in your company with short video interviews that can be repurposed across social channels. Create a library of professional photos featuring actual employees; they will stand out compared with stock images. Remember, candidates don’t want to be another number in a corporation, so it’s important to celebrate the differences.
Zappos has created dedicated social recruiting channels under the handle @insidezappos — a tactic many companies have adopted over the past few years. And like The Home Depot, Zappos makes its employees the star of the show. The #whodatwednesday hashtag features a different team member every week and team takeovers allow potential candidates to ask insider questions.
Takeaway: If you have the budget and bandwidth, dedicated social recruiting channels make a lot of sense. They allow you to provide an experience tailored to job seekers and avoid competing with your standard branded content.
The Internship movie from 2013 certainly helped boost interest in careers at Google, but most companies don’t have ‘featured film’ in their recruiting budget. But @LifeAtGoogle always has fun events and stories to share, and the company doesn’t have to break the bank to make an impact. The content below was originally posted by a recent hire on Instagram and was repurposed across the @LifeAtGoogle channels.
Takeaway: Recruiting content doesn’t need to be fancy to be effective. Great culture leads to great content. Most companies don’t have a budget for professional photography and videography, but that’s ok. Candidates recognize the difference and appreciate authentic content and can more easily see themselves working in such an environment — especially millennials and Generation Z.
The Seattle Symphony utilizes a great mix of professional photography and candid iPhone shots to stand out from the crowd. Here’s a recent Tweet that hits all the marks: they’ve noted the position, department and application deadline; included a few hashtags; featured a gorgeous photo; and provided a link to the job posting.
Takeaway: Especially on Twitter, where the lifespan of a Tweet is about 18 minutes, it’s important to keep your content short and sweet. Back your message with compelling imagery and you’ll grab plenty of attention.
Preferred Home created a recruiting video for nurses — a role they will certainly be hiring for regularly. It’s not specific to a single category of expertise, so it can be used whenever there’s a hire to be made. They’ve included the important content with a hook, hashtags, call to action and a link to the application.
Takeaway: If you have a tight budget, spend money on evergreen content that can be repurposed multiple times, especially if you frequently hire for similar positions. Having a mixture of evergreen and timely content shows candidates that you’re both professional and personable.