Everyone is on social media these days. No matter what the flavor of the month is — TikTok, Snapchat, or Instagram — the number of social media users has grown year after year since analysts started measuring it. Today, the average person has eight different social media accounts.
As the use of social media expands, organizations are becoming more adept at using different platforms to recruit new employees. According to data from The Muse, 92% of companies are using social media for recruiting. Millennials and Gen Z are very comfortable using social media to further their careers: Capterra reports that 73% of 18-34 year-olds found their last job through social media.
Recruiters often go to social media to find out more information about existing applicants, but few are utilizing these platforms to their full potential for recruiting and hiring. There’s plenty of room for improvement in social media recruiting; many hiring teams are just beginning to discover how powerful social hiring can be.
In this guide, we’ll dive into some of the more advanced ways organizations can practice social media hiring and provide actionable steps for taking your social media recruitment strategy to the next level.
Social media recruiting, sometimes shortened to social recruiting, is the practice of using social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to find, attract, and hire new employees. There is a range of activities that fall under social media recruiting, from employer branding to candidate sourcing to employee referrals. And, because the social media landscape changes so frequently — with new channels rising in popularity every month — the field of social media recruitment is constantly evolving.
Using social media to recruit employees is both an active and passive process. Recruiters can use social media channels to directly reach out to potential candidates; and, hiring teams can also use social media to strengthen their employer branding efforts. Employer branding is a key piece of building a reputation as a great place to work and encouraging talented candidates to participate in your hiring process — and, inevitably, join your team.
There are many benefits to using social media to recruit employees. But, surprisingly, there are still nearly 40% of companies that aren’t participating in any kind of social media recruiting. If you’re seeking to get started or expand your social media recruiting, here’s where to start.
There are many different ways to use social media to recruit employees, from advertising jobs to messaging passive candidates to crowdsourcing referrals from your personal and professional social networks.
Most social media recruiting techniques fall on a scale of active to passive. On the active end of the spectrum, recruiters may reach out to candidates via direct message on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Other active social hiring techniques involve posting job ads, asking for referrals, and even collecting resumes: Facebook, for instance, emails resumes and job applications or allows you to view submissions directly on its platform.
[Read more: The Recruiting Tools That Small Businesses Love]
Social media marketing is also an important, more passive part of the recruitment process. Social media is a crucial part of building an employer’s reputation and communicating the company culture in a way that reaches a broad, diverse pipeline of candidates. Hiring teams can post videos and employee testimonials to engage with those who may not be looking for a job now, but will be in the future. A survey from Glassdoor found that 84% of participants would be willing to leave their current company for a company with a positive reputation.
Likewise, recruiters can check on a candidate’s social media profiles to see how they’re representing themselves online. One resource found that nearly 90% of employers check a candidate’s social media profiles during the hiring process. Social media can add depth to a candidate’s application in a way that the cover letter or resume can’t provide.
There’s lots of evidence to suggest that using social media as a recruiting tool is highly effective. Consider some of these data points from The Muse:
- 73% of companies say they have successfully hired new employees using social media;
- 42% of companies say the quality of candidates has improved since they started using social recruiting;
- 20% of companies say it takes less time to hire when using social media;
- 31% of companies saw an increase in employee referrals when they started using social media to recruit.
Not only is social media recruiting helping many organizations find the right candidates, but it’s also helping with diversity hiring efforts. “Because of its incredibly wide international reach, using social media as a job search tool can also help you meet your diversity and inclusion goals in recruiting,” wrote Zenefits. Organizations can use their social media channels to broadcast their DE&I goals, be transparent about their diversity metrics, and reach a broader network of candidates who can help the organization become more diverse and inclusive.
And, finally, social media is often more cost-effective than traditional recruiting methods. Where some job sites charge on a cost-per-click basis at between $0.25 – $1.50 per click, social media can garner the same attention at a fraction of the price (or free).
As many marketing teams can attest, using social media can backfire on an organization. Posts and messages that come across as inauthentic can damage your employer brand. And, there’s a lot of competition on social media for talent; therefore, recruiting teams need to think about how they’re going to stand out on social media for the right reasons.
Two mistakes brands can make when recruiting on social media are to spam candidates and post too frequently. Features like InMail on LinkedIn allow a recruiter to message people in bulk — but that doesn’t mean you should. Generic messages can turn a candidate off an opportunity. No one wants to be treated like another number.
Likewise, brands sometimes run the risk of over-posting on their native pages. “It might be tempting to share a lot of content, but recruiters should evaluate the content they are posting in the context of whether or not it is relevant to target candidates,” wrote HR Technologist. “Avoid posting anything repetitive and ensure that all posted content is professional, original and authentic. Focusing on quality over quantity will help recruiters increase their following and engagement with target candidates.”
With these social media “don’ts” in mind, here are a few tips for using specific social media channels to attract candidates and build your online presence.
Facebook is a great option for recruiters because it’s one of the most universally used social media platforms. There are more than two billion users worldwide on Facebook — plenty of candidates just waiting to learn about your organization.
Facebook has also invested a lot of resources in creating opportunities for brands to recruit successfully. Recruiters can follow prospective candidates, join groups to promote open
job positions, share employer marketing campaigns, and pay for highly targeted ad campaigns to increase applications. There’s even a dedicated Facebook job board on which you can post openings and begin to collect resumes.
Video tends to perform well on Facebook, as well as other channels. CareerBuilder found that job postings featuring a video received 12% more views and a 34% greater application rate than postings without video.
LinkedIn is an obvious choice for social media recruiting, but getting the most benefit from this site involves more than just posting job ads from your company page. Join groups with your LinkedIn profile to advertise your roles and zero in on people who likely have an applicable skill set for your open position. Participate in events and post regular updates — not just job openings — from your company page to build your employer brand. Encourage your employees to share and use hashtags in your posts to help candidates find you.
LinkedIn InMail is a great feature that can help you connect with candidates directly. InMail allows you to reach candidates to whom you aren’t directly connected. InMail is one of the more effective social media direct messaging tools for recruiters; response rates have grown steadily year after year. Personalized InMail messages can make a huge difference in your recruiting outreach.
Perhaps the best way to use Twitter for recruiting is direct outreach. Twitter’s hashtags and keywords make it easy to quickly find conversations and identify experts in a particular subject area.
“Run a quick search on Twitter for anybody discussing a specific keyword, and you can find hundreds of contacts. Target people to follow who work in the industry, people who may have the skills you need, or their network. Often these people will follow you back, and you’ll build your list of followers,” wrote ICIMS.
As you build followers, you can start to use hashtags relevant to a specific industry or area of expertise that will help people find your open positions. You’ll also be able to raise the profile of your company by participating in conversations on Twitter, building a strong employer brand in the process.
Other social media channels
In addition to the mainstream social media channels, considering using sites like Reddit, GitHub, and YouTube to connect with candidates. When you’re looking for a more technical role, try to go to social media platforms where a community exists: when looking for a developer, for instance, GitHub and StackOverflow are good places to go. Marketers tend to flock to pages like Warrior Forum or Moz.
No matter what site you choose, there are some strategies that work across social media channels.
1. Create candidate personas
Before you can dive deeply into social media recruiting, it’s important to know who it is you’re trying to attract to your company. This will determine the content you develop as well as the channels you use in your outreach. Think about the roles you are trying to fill: do you need someone with a coding background? Do you need someone with design skills? What capabilities will help them be successful at your organization?
Remember, these personas are less about “culture fit” and more about “values fit” — someone with the same sense of purpose and guiding principles, but who also bring a unique way of thinking, diverse background, and additive skill set. Candidate personas can not only help you in your social media recruitment strategy but also inform your job description and skill assessment.
2. Determine the right social media channels
It may be the case that you decide to use some social media channels for building brand awareness, some for candidate outreach, and still others for soliciting resumes. A good social media recruitment strategy is to start building a presence on a few different social media platforms. This can help you create a consistent digital presence no matter how candidates discover your brand. Once you’ve created profiles and started posting, you can start to see where you’re getting the best engagement and build out a strategy accordingly.
3. Set metrics
One of the benefits of social media is that each platform is designed with marketers in mind. This means you can use those same marketing tools to track if your outreach efforts are working. Social media channels allow you to create a funnel — or pipeline — of candidates by collecting KPIs: likes, shares, and clicks, all the way through to completed applications.
If you’re using HR tech, you can also measure how each social media channel is performing in comparison to traditional job boards. Vervoe’s Job Links, for instance, are trackable links that let you link directly from your career site, job boards, or social media platform and test candidates as they apply, so you’ll only spend time on top performers.
4. Develop great content
Content is a great way to engage with passive candidates and to encourage candidates who may already be in your pipeline to sign a contract with your company. Use content to showcase your company culture.
“In the current job seeker market, potential employees are not only looking for the perfect role or a high salary; company culture is just as important in determining which company a candidate chooses to apply to, and ultimately accepts an offer from,” wrote Paycor.
What kind of content should you develop? Videos are great, as we’ve established. Testimonials from existing employees are also helpful. Recognize team members for their accomplishments on Instagram or YouTube — these types of posts also help with employee engagement. Interesting company news or awards are also great content.
If you’re hurting for ideas, work with your marketing team to develop posts that share thought leadership and show how your company is making a difference in the world. Millennials and Gen Z care about a company’s social responsibility; so, show how your business cares not only for its customers but also for employees and the community.
5. Complete your profile pages
One of the simplest and most neglected strategies in social media recruiting is profile optimization. Providing complete information on your social media profiles will not only make it easier for candidates to find and engage with your job postings, but it will also improve your organization’s web presence. Google’s SEO results consider things like social media when ranking websites. Add a link to your careers page, a description, and your business information to all of your social media pages. Fill out any additional fields unique to the platform to finalize your profile.
6. Engage and post regularly
Social media recruitment works best when it’s done consistently. Not only should you be posting regularly, but you should dedicate time to respond to comments and messages. Social media isn’t a “set it and forget it” form of recruiting. The only way to continuously bring new candidates into the fold is to be proactive.
As you design a social recruitment strategy, offer your team training around social media recruiting best practices. Employees outside your immediate HR team could also benefit, as ideally they can become ambassadors for your employer branding effort. Discuss how you want to engage on different platforms, the message you wish to communicate, and note any content that’s not beneficial for your recruiting effort.
Social media recruitment marketing can seem like a lot of work. Luckily, there are lots of tools to help you implement your social media recruitment strategy. Tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Later can make it easy for your team to set up a content calendar and implement your strategy.
Finally, prioritize measuring everything. See how your social media recruitment process is stacking up against other forms of outreach. Pay particular attention to diversity recruiting metrics to make sure you’re reaching as broad an audience as possible — and not just reaching your personal network of contacts.