Recruiting through Social Media: What Works and What Doesn’t

In the competition for top talent, social media is all the rage nowadays. Employers no longer can afford to ignore LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Virtually all working age Canadians are now online (95% of those aged under 55, according to an Ipsos Reid poll), so the Internet is the obvious place where you can connect with people.

62% of all Canadians use social networks, 86% of them have a Facebook profile, and most log in at least weekly. So how do you reach them? Just set up a profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, then invite the whole world to follow you or become your friend. Then start posting links to your jobs. Right?

Well… Consider for a moment the primary reason why most people join social networks. They certainly aren’t looking to connect with companies or strangers. Quite understandably, many feel uncomfortable “befriending” a company and exposing their personal information to some faceless non-human entity. People use social networks to interact with other people whom they are somehow already connected with: Friends and colleagues and their friends and colleagues. They want to know the real people on the other side whom they are interacting with. And this is exactly why social networks have become such a powerful engagement channel: They facilitate (mostly) informal communication between real people.

To you as an employer, the biggest advantage of social networking sites is not their ability to keep you in touch with your own network. You are probably quite capable of doing this yourself, with or without the help of Twitter and Facebook. And for privacy reasons, many of those you want to reach are reluctant to become your “friends” even if they are interested in your company and job openings.

The biggest benefit of social networking sites to you as an employer is that they enable you to easily tap into the networks of other people. They make it easier for other people to share information about you with their friends and colleagues. And they are quite willing to do so, as long as you provide information that they feel is worth sharing.

In the world of recruiting, these “other people” may be your employees, your vendors’ and customers’ employees, employment counselors, community volunteers, etc. They may also be people who have nothing to do with your business but have come across your job ads and believe that someone on their network may be interested in them. Many of them will not be interested in becoming your “friends” on Facebook but may be willing to share your postings with their friends.

So instead of trying to “befriend” everyone on Facebook or Twitter who you think may one day be interested in working for you (as a side note, you will inevitably end up befriending a lot of advertisers looking to sell to you), make it easy for people to share information about your job openings – and then encourage them to do so.

When we advertise jobs on VicinityJobs.com, each job posting includes a message at the top of each posting encouraging people to share it with their friends and colleagues. The sharing buttons are also right at the top of each posting, making the “sharing” and easy one-click exercise. We encourage employers and our job seeker members to share postings through their own social networks.

This is not to say that it is a bad idea to publish the announcement through a corporate social networking profile that you use to interact with clients and the community. But if you do, you need to encourage people to share the information and be ready to deal with the comments that some may post (both positive and negative). Finally, if you are not prepared to respond to inquiries about the job via social networking, make this clear in your post.

Written by Strac Ivanov, MBA, President and Co-Founder of Vicinity Jobs Inc