Diving Into Social Media for Recruiting

By Toddi GutnerBusiness on Main

Using social media for recruiting can offer access to a targeted talent pool and save you time and money.

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When Palo Alto Software is in need of new talent, the company culls profiles on LinkedIn and notifies different bloggers and a couple of local online sites about the available position.

“You’re trying to attract the best people to come [to your company], so you’re going to places where the best people might be looking for jobs,” says Chelle Parmele, social media marketing manager for the maker of business- and marketing-plan software. “We’re interviewing them, but they’re also interviewing us,” she says.

What’s interesting, Parmele notes, is that one of their earlier postings initially didn’t get any traction. “We pushed it out on Twitter and blogs, and it was weird to have nobody looking,” says Parmele. In response, the company broke up the job posting into a few positions and then found the right candidates.

Like Palo Alto Software, many small businesses have now embraced social media to recruit professionals. Not only does it save the cost of hiring a recruiter, but it can also save a lot of time. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Myspace, Foursquare and Google tell a lot about a potential candidate. The online presence of a potential candidate is much more transparent in comparison to a resume, which allows individuals to more easily fabricate work experience and interests.

“Employers looking to hire are looking at [candidate] profiles and they want to see where you are [in cyberspace],” says Lena West, CEO and chief strategist of xynoMedia, a social media consulting and development firm.

If you’re thinking of using social media to find the right talent for your company, you might consider the following guidelines:

Do social media sites target the talent you want?

While there are dozens of targeted job sites for specific professionals, and others to help seasoned headhunters recruit talent, it may be difficult to tap into social media sites to find the right candidate. Before you commit to using social media as your recruiting tool, make sure the professionals you’re looking for actually use this medium.

Which platform works best to promote your job opportunity?

Once you’re convinced that you’re likely to find the best talent for your company online, you need to consider which site to use. That depends on your needs. LinkedIn is driving the most job-related traffic (47 percent) to career sites, followed by Facebook (30 percent) and Twitter (16 percent), according to Doug Berg of Jobs2Web, an interactive recruitment marketing firm. Visit the sites and go with the one that best suits the personality of you and your company. The sites are dynamic and constantly updating features to accommodate business users.

In the case of Twitter, bear in mind that very few people (23 out of 10,000 in a Twitter visitor sample) find a job listing through a Twitter job search. They’re more likely to find listings through a “follow” or a retweet, such as CareerBuilder.com retweeting a job listing.

As far as physical locations, the biggest LinkedIn markets are California, Washington and Texas, according to Berg. For Facebook, Washington is slightly less popular; instead, Texas is the second-largest market, behind California. The most popular states for Twitter users are, in order, California, followed by Washington, New York and Texas. Maine is the smallest market

What other benefits are available from recruiting through social media?

One often overlooked benefit of this type of recruiting is the external perception by current and potential employees of a company that uses social media in its business. Most professionals “want to work for a company that they think is really fresh, exciting, special and cool,” says Beth Carvin, president and CEO of Nobscot, a retention management and metrics firm.

Such a reputation often attracts and drives talent to these organizations: Think Google and the shopping site Zappos.com, whose CEO is one of the most active microbloggers on Twitter.

What's more, social networking platforms allow you “to stay in touch and keep track of your communication and interaction with potential candidates and bring so much more information to their decision-making than a one-time interview, lunch or e-mail exchange,” says West.

To be sure, social media has many advantages — but make sure it is the right recruiting strategy for your company.

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