Many Companies Use Social Media For Recruiting. Really?

by Etienne Besson on 6 June 2012

in My musings,Recruitment

More and more companies and recruiters say that they’re using social media for recruiting. But is it “real” social media? And does it actually matter?

Not long ago most HR departments couldn’t imagine using social media at all. This seems to change with LinkedIn (or Xing / Viadeo) becoming part of the tools recruiters use on a daily basis without thinking twice about it and more and more companies creating pages on Facebook.

But is it just classic broadcasting with the standard (and often quite boring) information that can usually be found on company websites or in press releases and job ads? Or are employers really starting to create conversations and build long-term relationships with potential candidates?

What is “real” social media use anyway?

Is posting a job ad on LinkedIn or Xing really social media? What is the difference to posting the same job ad on any job board? And can a company pretend to do social recruiting if their employees share a link to a job ad on their personal Facebook profile? Or what about using a Twitter account to automatically broadcasting links to their jobs?

Social media is just a tool

I think that these questions are only relevant to social media enthusiasts. Of course I strongly believe that the real strength of social media is its potential for conversations (engagement) and building long-term relationships.

But at the end of the day the different social media channels are just tools. And as soon as you know what you want to achieve, you select the right tool for the job and use it in the way that promises the most success.

Recruiting surveys and social media channels

Now that more and more companies are open to using social media channels, I hope that future surveys will not just ask if they use social media, but also analyze how they do it.

Of course there are plenty of possibilities. Lets take LinkedIn as an easy example. You could:

  • build up your personal network and then either contact people directly or encourage them to recommend your open positions to their own contacts
  • use it for direct sourcing (basically classic headhunting for the digital age)
  • build up talent pools with discussion groups
  • create ads for specific open positions, for increasing traffic to your careers page or for inviting people to follow your company page on LinkedIn

And whether social media purists consider any of these activities “proper” use of social media or not, the only relevant question is whether these tactics lead to the desired success.

Possible survey elements

These are just some rough ideas, but future recruiting surveys could include the following dimensions for the “social recruiting” chapter:

  • use of company accounts (like LinkedIn company page, official Twitter account or YouTube channel) or personal accounts (recruiters acting under their own name on any of the channels)
  • is the primary goal publication (broadcasting) or conversation (engagement)
  • directly related to the previous point: are the individual actions short-term, like the publication of job ads, or long-term, like dedicated employer branding activities
  • is the information shared generic as can be found on the company website or in job ads and press releases or more personal and informal like pictures of the offices or birthday parties as well as unscripted video interviews with employees

Additionally, interesting questions could be:

  • are employees allowed to access social media channels at work
  • are employees allowed to mention their employer online or is this strictly reserved to official company representatives

In conclusion

More and more companies and HR departments are becoming open to the idea of using social media channels for recruiting.

It’s important to decide what you want to achieve first and then select the right tool. It could be long-term engagement using conversations on Twitter, driving traffic to your careers page with a link on your Facebook page, inviting somebody to apply for a specific position through a personal message to one of your LinkedIn contacts or getting CVs through the publication of job ads on a job board or in a newspaper.

And I really would love to get more details on how companies use social media for recruiting!

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