03/09/2012

By Phil Roebuck, founder of the UK's leading online recruiter, webrecruit

As social media continues to evolve, businesses are increasingly recognising the benefits and are using the platforms to attract new talent. Digital channels in general are used by both active and passive candidates in a variety of professions, meaning that a wide target audience can be reached. However, it’s important to recognise that there are a range of tools with different purposes. So, when it comes to hiring, is HR using social media in the right way?

At webrecruit, we recently carried out a survey of over 700 UK job hunters in order to investigate the use of social media in the recruitment process. Its popularity was made clear — with 73% of those surveyed noticing the positive impact on their job search — but findings suggest that there is a need to make sure that the right channels are being used.

With such an abundance of tools available this can be daunting for HR professionals, but it’s fundamental to understand the differences for a successful recruitment process. For example, just because you have a huge presence on Twitter, it doesn’t mean it is the right platform for you to recruit on.

LinkedIn, for example, is an effective tool for business-to-business companies, particularly due to its groups, jobs posting facility and networking potential. Our survey revealed that 43% of respondents found LinkedIn’s jobs tab most useful when searching for jobs, 16% found following a company’s profile beneficial, and 15% stated that LinkedIn’s groups were a great source of job information.

In order to get the most out of LinkedIn, HR professionals should ensure that they join groups, upload vacancies on the jobs tab, create their own group and company profile, list services and latest vacancies, and ensure all staff share latest status updates to get your message across to a wider audience. It’s also important to connect with people who could, in the future, fill a valuable space in your company.

Facebook has a different audience to LinkedIn and is a favourite amongst business-to-consumer brands. It was found that 44% of jobseekers said Facebook was one of the tools they use to follow a company’s activity, but, when it came to finding the perfect job, only 3% found it useful. In order to maximise the value of your page, it’s important for HR teams to share latest vacancies, set up a live job feed stream, and also to inject some personality, for example by providing photos to give an insight into the culture.

With Twitter, our study found that it wasn’t as popular for job hunting as LinkedIn and Facebook, but it stood out when it came to which social networks jobseekers followed company activity on. With 26% of jobseekers using it as one of the tools to follow companies, Twitter can be a prime tool to redirect those who are engaged in your brand to another source, for example your careers page. When used correctly, Twitter can act as the company’s voice which provides followers with an insight into your business, people and research.

In order to maximise Twitter’s potential in the recruitment process, HR need to separate connections by skill set, location, and industry for example. In your bio, make sure you include a link to your website’s careers page to direct relevant traffic, share jobs using the appropriate hashtag, but be sure not to bombard people.

When it comes to thinking about long-term strategies, social media can help your business to build a talent pipeline that may save you money in the future. It allows you to tap into new pools of talent, for example passive candidates, and build communities that could become future candidates. In order to really benefit from this though, HR managers need to ensure that they review the effective engagement tools before investing time in them in order to maximise their potential.