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Win the war for talent with these social recruiting tips

Using social media for recruitment requires much more than posting job announcements on LinkedIn -- especially in a tight labor market. Here are five tips to set you on the right path.

HR professionals are facing serious headwinds in their recruiting efforts due to the tightest labor market the U.S. has experienced in recent years. For example, while 2017 has been consistently low in unemployment numbers, the U.S. Department of Labor said the week ending October 14, 2017, was "the lowest level for initial [unemployment] claims since March 31, 1973."

In order to attract, recruit and retain top talent in such a competitive environment, HR must bring its A-game, which increasingly includes using social recruiting -- that is, social media to help recruit candidates. Yet, effective social recruiting is about far more than simply posting job openings on social media. Here are five tips on how to improve your social media recruitment outcomes.

1. Tailor your recruitment message to each audience

"Alter the type of content based on the channel. What might work on LinkedIn may need to be tweaked for Facebook and Instagram," said Kyra Mancine, social media specialist for building materials company Oldcastle at its Rochester recruiting office.

But don't think of this only as a matter of tweaking your text or pictures to fit the format of each social media channel. Think about the audiences you can strategically build within each channel, too, and share messages that make sense and engage each group.

"We're on Instagram and Pinterest -- sites that may, on the surface, not seem to be appropriate for a construction-based business. But they are. We have boards for drivers and military and military spouses on Pinterest. On Instagram, we showcase cool projects, employee events and community activities," Mancine added.

2. Go beyond the social media giants

Most recruiters repeatedly work the "big five" social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. While they should all be part of your social media mix, look beyond them for additional opportunities.

"Use niche forums and networks, particularly if you are recruiting for specialized skills. For instance, sites like Stack Overflow for developers and tech talent or Moz and Warrior forums for digital marketers," advised Peter Collins, director at English Blinds, a window-covering retailer.

Look to internal social media and messaging forums, such as Slack, to recruit and promote from within, ask for employee referrals or encourage current employees to help you recruit externally by sharing job openings and other recruitment messaging on their social networks.

"In recent years, we have hired 34 people who are part of our work team, and more than 50% has been through social networks," said Cristian Rennella, HR director and co-founder of oMelhorTrato.com, a South American-based startup.

"The best alternative we have to be able to hire new members for our company is through the personal Twitter accounts of every employee working in the company."

3. Leverage your own social networks

Ask people in your own networks if they know of good candidates for positions you are trying to fill. Often, people jump at the chance to help you because it means also helping a friend or contributing to their own networks. It's a win-win-win strategy.

"To do this right, HR pros need to take a personal approach in asking their network to tag their connections. They shouldn't just post a link to a job posting. That rarely gets any attention. Instead, write a paragraph or two, and be specific about what is the most important skill they're looking for," explained Franco Aquino, co-founder of REN Marketing, a social media marketing company.

4. Make sure the application process is mobile-friendly and readily available

"The majority of candidates today apply on mobile or handheld devices, and the experience should match the simplification. Clumsy websites are a distraction for applicants. Provide an easy experience, and share via social channels," said Tammy Perkins, a former Amazon and Microsoft HR exec and now chief people officer at Fjuri, a marketing consultancy.

You may want to consider making the application process even easier by enabling an autofill from the applicant's LinkedIn page, too. Anything you can do to make the application easier and faster for the applicant, while also providing you with the information you need, is a major advantage in social media recruiting in a tight labor market.

Sometimes, features on various social media channels will help with that automatically.

"We use the new Jobs feature on Facebook," said Scott Wesper, hiring manager for Arch Resources Group, an HR and payroll services company. "One great feature allows the application to be prepopulated with information from the candidate's profile. This is a time-saver and an incentive for candidates to apply for multiple jobs without having to type in the same information over and over again."

5. Use social recruiting to brand and promote the workplace

"Young, talented workers are increasingly concerned with the values and best practices of their prospective employers. Companies should take advantage of this emphasis on social responsibility during recruitment cycles by demonstrating their corporate values on social media," advised Teri Murphy, director of corporate communications at Ceridian, a global human capital management technology company.

Your social brand story helps build the market perception, reputation and attract quality candidates.
Tammy PerkinsChief People Officer, Fjuri

Creating branding for a company and its products is common practice. And increasingly, smart companies are including marketing to ensure the company's workplace and workforce are attractive to potential candidates and the best talent is not lost to competitors for lack of job-life appeal.

"Your brand is your biggest and least expensive attractor," Perkins said. "Share your employer brand story with photos on Twitter, Instagram, Glassdoor, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms. Your social brand story helps build the market perception, reputation and attract quality candidates. Today, job seekers use Glassdoor for an inside glimpse or realistic job preview."

Beyond social recruiting

While these five tips will help you leverage social media more effectively and optimize your recruitment messaging, keeping an eye out for additional opportunities to socialize with prime candidates is always smart.

For example, it's common for recruiters to network at professional conferences, but some fall short in networking or following up on that conference's app in community forums and social messaging, too.

The same is often true with recruiting elsewhere, such as on university campuses. Companies and their HR departments have long turned to posting jobs on a university's job board, but the effectiveness of student outreach strategies can be improved by HR professionals also participating in group- and event-organized social networks.

"Universities are great with sharing to alumni and students, and university job boards are a great and inexpensive way to establish your brand," Perkins said. "Recruiters and hiring managers get a higher response to passive candidates with a personal touch versus a robotic blurb."

Social media will continue to be an important tool for HR professionals in recruiting and, especially, in vetting. But business as usual shouldn't grow stale over time. Reevaluate your social recruiting strategy periodically to ensure the conversation stays fresh and the appeal remains culturally relevant.

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This was last published in October 2017

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