How to use social media for recruitment

Author: PM editorial | Date: 4 May 2016

Platforms such as LinkedIn give you access to a huge number of passive potential recruits

Social media is the fastest-growing medium for recruiters. And with 81 per cent of LinkedIn users open to hearing about potential jobs from companies they are connected with, this is one trend businesses shouldn’t ignore.
Hiring used to largely rely either on word of mouth or on candidates who were responding to job advertisements. But while specialist job boards and agencies still have their place, particularly in function- or sector-specific recruitment, social networks have turned traditional dynamics around, allowing employers to build a group of connections they can actively target with roles. Through platforms such as LinkedIn – the pre-eminent online professional network – employers can reach out directly to the far larger number of passive potential recruits outside their networks whose profiles meet the description of ideal candidates.
According to Jeff Rajeck, researcher and trainer from Econsultancy, LinkedIn is already being widely used for social recruitment in Singapore, but is not quite as prolific elsewhere. However, he believes this will increase as more people join: “It’s easy to see the potential once you and the people in your industry are on the platform. I think a professional social network is essential.”
So what are the advantages of using platforms such as LinkedIn to research, connect with and approach potential hires? “You can see their CV online in the sense that they have had to put together a page describing who they are,” says Rajeck. “You can also see who they are connected to and get some idea of their skills and previous accomplishments from recommendations.”
While there are free services businesses can use, in-house recruiters should consider paying to access more of LinkedIn’s tools, such as InMails – a function that allows emails to be sent to individuals you are not connected with.
One of the dangers of contacting potential candidates directly is that your approaches could look like spam. To avoid this, Andy Headworth, founder of Sirona Consulting and author of Social Media Recruitment, suggests keeping messages short and relevant to the individual concerned. And although Rajeck believes most people would take an approach from a company seriously, he warns against being too forward: “Don’t put everything in an InMail or message. Try to get people on the phone instead.”
Businesses can increase their follower base by adding a ‘follow’ button on their website, cross-promoting their company page in LinkedIn groups and on other social platforms, and encouraging employees to include a link to the company page on their own LinkedIn profiles.
By building networks, you may find an individual will apply for a role at a later stage, or they may have connections who would be suitable too. “Don’t make assumptions about people’s connections. An individual’s first-level connections become your second-level connections, which makes connecting with peer groups essential,” says Headworth.
As Rajeck points out, like it or loathe it, social recruiting is here to stay. “Many people complain about LinkedIn. They say: ‘The news feed is spammy. The groups have become pretty useless. People try to connect with you for apparently no reason.’ But it is the best thing we’ve got and it can be incredibly useful when recruiting, doing business development or even just trying to get an idea about someone you’re about to meet.”