Use social media to find your next great employee

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“Help wanted, you bum!” by Lorenia on Flickr

A few years ago, my company was looking to hire a media assistant. The hiring manager, Jill, wanted a good communicator well versed in Microsoft Excel. Armed with this information, I posted the opportunity on my social media profiles.

A few hours later, I received several responses, including one from my friend Nic, who at the time worked for Trine University. Nic identified a recent Trine grad, Anthony Boyer, who had the skills we were looking for and who would be a perfect match for our company – not incidental given the importance of cultural fit. After we contacted Anthony B. and interviewed him, it was clear Nic was right. Anthony started with us less than two weeks later.

This story exemplifies why social media is such a great recruiting tool. Because candidates are sourced through trusted intermediaries – like Nic in the story above – it often yields a better pool than traditional recruiting methods. The process generally moves much faster, too. And best of all, it can help you lower your costs, as was the case when we hired Anthony B. We never advertised the open media assistant position, nor did we pay a search firm or pay to post it on a job board. Our out-of-pocket cost was zero.

While it won’t likely yield all your future employees, social media should certainly be a central part of your recruiting toolkit. Here are a few ways to get the most from it:

1. Know – and seek to improve – your company’s online reputation. Most of us consult online reviews before purchasing products and services. The same is becoming true for those shopping for their next job. Before deciding whether to send a resume, they visit sites like Glassdoor.com to hear what current and past employees have to say. If the ratings are favorable, they’ll continue the conversation. If the ratings are low, they’ll move on.

At minimum, recruiters need to be aware of what’s being said about their company – but it’s even better if you can improve your online reputation. The first step is seeking to fix the things holding you back, thereby making it more likely your employees will speak favorably of you, online and elsewhere. In addition, it’s important to remember that the best antidote to bad reviews is good reviews. If you are confident you have a good working environment, ask your employees to review you online. Many of them would be willing to say good things if only they were asked. Finally, be sure to capture and share employee testimonials – ideally on video. These assets will work in your favor when they are discoverable online, either reinforcing positive reviews or counteracting negative ones.

2. Be sure you’re using the right platforms in the right way. LinkedIn is the undisputed champion of the social media recruiting world, preferred by 87 percent of recruiters, according to Jobvite’s 2016 “Recruiter Nation” survey. LinkedIn isn’t a magic bullet, however, and it doesn’t work well for all your open positions. Many candidates, especially those for entry-level, “blue-collar,” or retail jobs – just to name a few – may be better sourced on Facebook or other social media sites.

It’s not just about where you post, though; what you post is also critical. In today’s environment, every post should include a photo or graphic. My company, for example, uses simple visuals, overlaying the words “now hiring” on photos of our building and our people, paired with a few words about the open position and a call to action. This is more visually appealing and ensures the post will take up more real estate in the news feed, giving it a much better chance of being seen. An even better option, albeit with a higher degree of difficulty, is to use video whenever possible. Video is much more likely to be shared by your audience, meaning your content will reach candidates well beyond your sphere.

3. Get your employees involved. Since it first emerged, social media has been primarily used to connect us with friends and family. We connect with brands as a byproduct of this, but we’re still most interested in hearing from those we truly care about. If your company is only sharing opportunities via its corporate presence, then, you’re missing out.

To get more out of social media recruiting, ask your employees to share your job opportunities via their personal profiles. Some won’t – and that’s OK – but those who do will reach many quality candidates who wouldn’t see the posting otherwise. You’ll also be much more likely to reach candidates who are a good cultural fit and who have some accountability to those who get them in the door. To make the most of employee advocacy, provide incentives for those who source new hires and celebrate your successes.

As the employment environment gets more competitive, social media recruiting provides another means by which you can connect with candidates — and a true advantage if you do it well. Polish your online reputation, use the right tools, and get your employees involved, and you’ll see a significantly higher return on your investment in your greatest asset: your people.

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