7 Ways to Recruit Star Talent Using Social Media

One of the biggest challenges for recruiters in recent years has been figuring out the most effective ways of attracting talent and making hires through social media. There are so many approaches you could adopt that just staying on top of the options is a struggle – let alone actually mastering any of them.

As a sanity check, I'm here today to cover briefly the seven key ways you can better leverage social media to boost your hiring results. Those seven methods involve:

Using social recruiting techniques to boost your employer brand/recruiting brand and attract potential hires.

Engaging with influencers in your industry to multiply twentyfold or thirtyfold the reach of your recruiting team's messages in your target markets.

Using targeted social media advertising to attract your ideal hires directly to your careers pages or your most critical job listings.

Implementing a social referral program to drive more employee referrals from your existing staff base.

Ensuring your efforts are not undermined by an inability to convert the growing number of candidates now using mobile devices in their job searches.

Researching your ideal candidates on social media and approaching them directly.

Improving the candidate experience and solidifying each candidate's decision to join your company through effective use of social media.

Here's a taste of what your business or recruiting team should be focusing on in each of these seven areas. If you'd like a more comprehensive rundown of social recruiting, check out Social-Hire.com's social recruiting guide.

1. Using Social Recruiting Techniques to Boost Your Recruiting Brand and Attract Hires

Having a strong recruiting or employer brand on social media is important for two key reasons.

First, you can improve the returns you see on every recruiting activity you undertake if you establish yourself as a name that candidates know and respect. Candidates will be more likely to take your calls, reply to your InMails, and respond to your job ads if yours is a brand they have already warmed to.

Second, a strong recruiting brand on social media can be a new means of attracting candidate interest in its own right. Think of your social media followers as your talent pool and your advocate network. A company that wins a large following for its recruiting team's social media profiles has a ready-made audience of potential candidates who can be enticed to submit their resumes in the future. This following can also act as a network of people who believe in the business and who will be willing to share your openings with their own networks, too.

(For more information on how to use social media to boost your brand, see my regular briefings on social recruiting.)

2. Engaging With Influencers to Multiply the Reach of Your Messages

For most of our clients, this step will form part of their strategy to build a stronger recruiting brand presence on social media, but it's also a social recruiting approach that can be used in isolation.

The core idea to exploit is that there are already lots of people and organizations out there who have built sizable engaged followings of the exact types of people your business would like to recruit. To give you a simple example, sales software vendors and sales trainers both will have sizable followings of salespeople.

What you want to do is find the influencers in your industry who also regularly re-share content and updates from other businesses. These are the people you want to build relationships with if you want to see the reach of your recruiting brand skyrocket on social media. Reaching 20 or 30 times as many people as you have followers is something that's eminently achievable, which is why it's worth your time cultivating relationships with influencers.

3. Using Targeted Social Media Advertising to Attract Your Ideal Hires

Novices pump vacancy alerts out across their Twitter streams or Facebook pages, not realizing that this makes them look desperate – and harms their ability to attract a loyal and engaged following of prospective hires. Think about it: Who wants their social media streams clogged with a barrage of untargeted job listings? Only the most desperate job seekers – and who wants to attract that audience more than any other?

Pros realize that social media provides a means of defining the exact audience (passive and active candidates) that the business needs to reach – and that they can pay to have hiring campaigns displayed only to that highly targeted audience. Better still, you don't have to become an expert at using the various social media advertising platforms yourself. There are plenty of specialists out there who will run your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on social media for you.

4. Implementing a Social Referral Program to Drive More Employee Referrals

Whether you use one of the many social referral platforms out there or go it alone with your own internal project, the upside to engaging staff to provide referrals is threefold.

First, by tapping into the networks of all your existing staff members, you can potentially reach your target candidate audience in a way that's more personal than targeted advertising would be.

Second, candidates are far more likely to consider a vacancy forwarded by someone they know than they are to consider a cold InMail from a recruiter they've never heard of. The likelihood of a candidate warming to the company – and ultimately succeeding in the role – is also improved if they already know people in the organization.

Last but not least, paying existing staff – rather than external suppliers – to generate candidate leads clearly improves the remuneration of your staff while bringing on board staff members with whom the team is more likely to bond. There's the added benefit that your own staff retention rates are likely to be strengthened and the pressure to make additional hires relieved.

5. Ensuring Your Efforts Are Not Undermined by the Rise of Mobile

While mobile recruiting and social recruiting are in some ways distinct, they are also highly complementary. Once you consider that most social media users are accessing their social accounts from mobile devices, it should clearly follow that no attempts to secure candidate applications via social media can ever be successful unless the steps that candidates need to follow in order to apply have been mobile-optimized!

6. Researching Your Ideal Candidates on Social Media and Approaching Them Directly

Given how closely LinkedIn is associated with this aspect of social recruiting, it's quite possibly the element that you'll be most familiar with yourself. The principle is simple. Today, there are vast "resume databases" available to anyone who wants to start working as a recruiter, where only ten years ago they'd have been the proprietary assets of recruitment businesses. So the barriers to entry for an in-house recruitment team to find and approach candidates directly have been massively lowered.

There are various tools you can use to find talent across social platforms: TalentBin (by Monster), Entelo, Open Web (from Dice), and lots of training courses you can attend to bolster your skills. If you're not doing any of these things to find and approach candidates, consider yourself very much behind the curve.

7. Improving the Candidate Experience and Solidifying a Candidate's Decision to Join Your Company

Last but not least is the impact that all your social media activities can have on the candidate experience. At multiple points during the research, application, interview, and offer-acceptance stages, it's now highly probable that your candidates will have interactions (or a lack of interactions) with your company and its staff that influence whether they ultimately go on to be hired by you. All these touch points contribute to the overall candidate experience that you offer – and therefore to the acceptance rates that your whole recruiting operation is able to achieve. Ignore at your peril!

In closing, it's important to make one other point. The above are seven things you can do to recruit far more effectively through social media, but it's also true that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to social media. Depending on the types of candidates you need to hire, the locations you're recruiting for, the size of your existing talent pool, and a whole variety of additional variables, social media recruiting strategies will rightly vary from company to company. Be sure to seek expert input rather than just copying the approaches of other businesses!

Tony Restell is the founder of social media agency Social-Hire.com. You can find Tony on Twitter (@tonyrestell).