As the labor market gains strength, more recruiters are approaching potential employees on social media. Recruiters communicating through sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter should follow some guidelines to achieve the best results possible.
“To be the most successful recruiter and hire the most qualified individuals, you have to keep up and really stay on top of latest trends,” said Clair Gonzalez, branch manager of HR and administrative staffing at HireStrategy, a staffing firm based in Reston, Virginia. In this candidate-driven market, companies need to improve and modernize their recruiting strategies to set themselves apart and attract passive candidates, she added.
Here are nine best practices for a strong recruiting strategy using social media:
1. Focus on the positions to highlight and attract. Jobs that have specific skill requirements are likely good options for using social media to recruit, Gonzalez said; generic job postings can yield thousands of résumés that are tedious to comb through.
2. Communicate compelling employer branding content. Gonzalez shared that HireStrategy worked with career site The Muse to feature HireStrategy’s company culture. HireStrategy employees now share a link to the content on social media and in their email signatures in order to share with their networks.
3. Understand the audience. To know on what social media channels and in which groups a company should post their job openings, recruiters should first understand where the ideal candidate is online, said Ed Nathanson, founder of Red Pill Talent LLC, an employer branding consultancy and recruiter training agency based in Ashland, Massachusetts. This can be done by asking applicants how they found the job posting or by talking to current employees. Chances are that people like them will spend time in the same digital space, he said.
4. Understand unfamiliar social media platforms before posting. While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are some of the most popular social networks in the U.S., that’s not the case in other countries. Recruiters should spend some time on unfamiliar platforms to understand how others use the platform and to better understand some of the cultural norms, Nathanson said. “You don’t want to go in like a bull in a china shop; you want to fit in,” he said.
5. Share job postings with social networks. Gonzalez said her team shares and likes each other’s job postings, as this helps to reach more individuals’ networks and get more eyes on the posts.
6. Reach out to candidates with personal touches. As people feel inundated with information and messages, it’s important that recruiters make their direct messages stand out, Gonzalez said. “I feel like there is nothing worse than getting an email that seems copy and pasted. That is one of my biggest pet peeves. I get them all day, and I delete them all day,” she said. When she approaches a talented individual online, she tends to not start out with a sales pitch. She instead tries to be personable, show them that she took time to look at their profile and share a compelling reason why she is reaching out. To continue the conversation, she tries to share articles they would find interesting. It’s not until she has a job posting that is perfect for them that she pitches it, she said. She tells her team, “Relate; don’t just recruit.”
Nathanson reiterated this point, adding that barraging or posting on walls is obtrusive. Those recruiters who do so will get some wins, but this won’t last. Effective recruiters treat their practice on social media as a long play and build trust with potential clients by not asking for anything right away. They can offer industry news, interview advice or assistance for people asking for these in online forums. All of this builds a recruiter brand.
7. Be careful to not introduce bias. While recruiters have access to more information about candidates, they should be sure to use that information to engage with the potential hire, rather than to screen them out of the running, said Kurt Heikkinen, president and CEO of Montage, a hiring software company based in Delafield, Wisconsin.
8. Continue a high-quality, high-touch experience throughout the application and interview process. “You can’t just have a great initial impression and not continue it throughout the candidate experience,” Heikkinen said. If the applicant finds the process after application to be archaic or inconvenient, they could become disillusioned. Therefore, organizations are investing in on-demand digital interviewing, self scheduling for interviews and AI chatbots to talk with candidates, he said.
9. Treat the candidate like a consumer. “The modern candidate is making a direct connection from their consumer experience with a consumer brand and the employer brand,” Heikkinen said. As consumers, they expect information at their fingertips, to have a high-tech experience and to engage through the media they consume every day. Their interactions on social media begin their impressions of the company as an employer, he said.
Lauren Dixon is a senior editor at Talent Economy. To comment, email email@example.com.
The tight labor market has employers scrambling to find skilled talent. According to a 2016 ManpowerGroup survey, 40 percent of employers report there is a talent shortage.
According to Will Staney, founder and principal consultant at Proactive Talent Strategies LLC, a recruitment consulting firm based in Austin, Texas, the previous mindset of the employer-employee relationship was that the employee should be grateful to be employed. This relationship has now shifted to a more candidate-driven market.
“It’s not hard to find people anymore. The biggest challenge in recruiting is actually getting them to the table,” Staney said. When competition is fierce in this area, recruiters must get creative in how they capture the attention of the talent they hope to recruit.
“I think you have to do whatever you have to do and you have to get creative and think outside of traditional ways of attracting people to get attention,” Staney said. Posting a job on a job board where everyone else is won’t effectively cut through the noise of other posts. It’s no longer enough to post a job and hope people apply. “The best solutions come when you’re really thinking intentionally and stepping in the shoes of your potential candidates and thinking like how would I want to be approached?”
Here are nine creative ways to recruit talent:
- Share the organization’s story and culture.
The biggest way to attract talent in this economy is to differentiate the company as an employer and to tell the organization’s story, Staney said. Recruiting is more of a multichannel marketing approach these days, where companies use employee stories to find talent that fits their cultures.
- Reach talent when they’re most frustrated with their current work situation.
When Staney worked at Glassdoor, the company had a hard time finding technical talent. With many commuters in Silicon Valley, recruiters at Glassdoor thought they could reach commuters while traveling. The company put a large sign on their office, saying, “Tired of the commute? We’re hiring right here,” Staney recalled. Also, at a ferry and bus station, the company hired a barista truck to hand out free lattes and gourmet coffee, featuring sleeves that said they’re hiring.
- Find candidates that seek out what the company is looking for.
Staney shared other solutions from companies such as Google. If a coder went searching on Google for a coding language, they saw a popup saying, “You are speaking our language. Up for a challenge?” Then, coders could participate in a game called the Foo Bar Challenge. After reaching a certain level, they received a call from a Google recruiter.
Other companies hide recruiting messaging in the coding of their websites. People who look for the source code can sometimes see hidden messages that say something like, “We love people who look under the hood,” prompting the right talent to apply.
- Leverage video content.
Video dominates the internet today. In early 2017, people watched more than 1 billion hours of video per day on YouTube, according to The Wall Street Journal.
When Staney worked at software company VMware in 2009, he sent Flip Video cameras out with recruiters to take video with hiring managers, who would talk about their teams and show executives and recruiters, providing a behind-the-scenes peek into the company.
“I wouldn’t say that’s super creative now, but you’d be surprised how many companies still aren’t utilizing video the way they could,” Staney said. Live video is also a great platform for this mission, especially if hopeful candidates can ask questions and learn more about the job.
- Be freelancer friendly.
“If a company really wants access to more talent, especially when there’s so much talent scarcity out there, they really need to appear to be, or they need to be freelance friendly,” said Jim Stroud, global head of sourcing and recruiting strategies at Randstad Sourceright, a human resources advisory based in Atlanta. Scarcity of talent means turning to alternative forms of work, such as gig work.
One challenge of gig work, however, is when workers receive their pay. Stroud talked about an application called DailyPay, which adds into the existing payroll system at companies and allows for people to receive their paycheck ahead of the scheduled time. If a company can pay workers every day, that might be a draw for gig workers.
Another company called Hyr makes it easy for companies and workers to match up based on when the worker is available. Rather than apply for specific jobs, people can apply for the shifts that work with their schedules, he said.
- Consult other internal experts.
“When you think about the experience of a candidate, it’s not dissimilar to that of a customer,” said Jim Conti, people lead at dscout Inc., a consumer research software company based in Chicago. He shared that some of his success comes from looking internally for subject matter experts, such as sales and marketing teams, to understand the software they use for customer relationship development. Although the language in their tools will be customer-focused, simply substituting “lead” for “candidate” will make the technology useful.
- Be authentic.
There will always be a new tool that claims to reinvent the world for recruiters. Some of these are useful, but successfully finding the right talent comes down to authenticity, Conti said.
Recruiters should consider the resistance that candidates could bring up. Especially if a company lacks strong ratings employer ratings on Glassdoor, the company must acknowledge that and think critically about where the commentary is coming from and then consider how to engage with a candidate about that.
Conti said he’s seen an insurance company do well by acknowledging that it’s not necessarily a super exciting industry; young people, for instance, may not dream of being an insurance agent when they grow up. The company therefore played off of that sentiment by going out of its way to share how it makes work fun.
- Stay on the radar of desired talent.
Where does the desired talent spend time online? asked Krisi Rossi O’Donnell, chief recruiting officer at LaSalle Network Inc., a staffing, recruiting and culture advisory based in Chicago. She said her company uses Twitter to update followers on what’s happening in their markets. Through accounts for various industries, such as accounting and finance, LaSalle pushes out stories for those audiences to show that the company is up to date on news. This allows recruiting messages to be in prospective talent’s preferred form of communication.
- Stay rooted in relationships.
Ultimately, recruiting is getting back to its relationship-driven roots. The past 10 years or so have been very transactional, Proactive Talent Strategies’ Staney said, but the future will involve automation of the administrative parts of recruiting, so recruiters can have more time to spend on networking and building relationships.
“The future of finding talent is we won’t need to find it anymore,” Staney said. The future is in using the data and technology that’s available to create more human experiences.
Building those relationships is important to find what candidates seek in a job, said LaSalle Network’s O’Donnell. Because people are motivated to seek new employment for different reasons, recruiters must get to know them before calling with job opportunities.
Lauren Dixon is an associate editor at Talent Economy. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Using technology in the hiring process has helped companies manage high applicant volume and alleviate unconscious bias in managers’ decision-making. However, humans still ultimately decide who to hire, making technology’s role imperfect while paving the way for additional challenges leaders need to grapple with.
This challenge comes at a time when the hiring process is more automated than ever, according to a 2015 survey from Allegis Group Inc., a group of companies devoted to staffing and recruitment services. The survey found that 71 percent of respondents said the hiring process is more automated than before, a trend that 60 percent of the survey’s respondents said has created additional unintended consequences as a result.
Additionally, 54 percent of respondents said they’ve had more trouble in judging cultural fit, 46 percent said they’ve seen greater difficulty in judging candidates’ skills and 33 percent said they’ve found that their recruiting process has slowed with automation.
“Automation is crucial in terms of streamlining processes and handling repetitive, data-intensive tasks, but it fails to interpret a person’s qualities and potential,” said Kelly Van Aken, director of experience and technology solutions at Aerotek, a unit of Allegis Group. Therefore, it’s crucial to have an interactive, personal relationship between hiring manager and job candidate, she said.
But bias in hiring begins long before technology is able to play a significant role, and it remains limited as the process moves along, with the final decision often coming down to a manger’s gut feeling.
To be sure, tools such as Textio can help people write job descriptions to strip out overly masculine or feminine language in initial job descriptions, something that has proven to be a problem in the conventional hiring process. But this isn’t a catchall solution, either.
“You can’t just solve a lot of that unconscious bias with technology. There’s definitely those human interactions,” said Fara Rives, director of product development at Allegis Global Solutions. Humans must run these tools and make changes based on suggestions from the technology. Also, recruiters still need to screen first-round candidates, and hiring managers still need to meet with their potential employees before making a job offer.
Slowly but surely, hiring is becoming more objective and fair, Rives said. “I do think [technology is] helping, and I think awareness is a big piece of that.”
Training for Change
Training is a way to build awareness of this problem. Rives said Allegis did unconscious bias training for a financial services client, leading to an 87 percent diverse slate of candidates, up from 36 percent prior to training. And much of this diversity carried through to hires, she said.
Within the hiring process comes the nuanced methods of identifying cultural fit. Unconscious biases influence who we think will be successful in a role based on what they look like, said Gabriela Burlacu, human capital management researcher at SAP SuccessFactors, a human capital management software company. If someone successfully completed the role previously, for instance, we expect the next hire to look the same.
Training can help here as well, Burlacu said. Interviewers should understand how to push past biases to identify performance and potential; this doesn’t require a sophisticated technology. A list of competencies and other factors of success in the job should be front and center for those interviewing a candidate. An interview guide based on the role’s required skills can help hiring managers rely less on gut feel, she said.
Nevertheless, bias in hiring is just one potential problem area. Companies can set targets of diversity in the candidate pool and then bring on a more diverse group of hires than the previous year, but internal barriers remain, pushing them out, Burlacu said.
Performance management processes come with biases as well, Burlacu said, citing a study from Stanford researchers that found that male and female managers both tend to be bad at managing the performance of women. For instance, developmental feedback for men tends to be more straightforward and linked more closely to business outcomes.
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This is an area of people management where technology can help, Burlacu said, but it’s ultimately up to the people involved to make the necessary culture changes.
Technology can shed light on flaws and biases in our management systems, point people to the best hire and help to effectively manage them, all leading to a more successful, productive workforce.
“People will start realizing that their own errors in human judgment have actually been holding the organization back,” Burlacu said.
Lauren Dixon is an associate editor at Talent Economy. To comment, email email@example.com.