By Tom Clancy, Lead Recruiter, eBay Classifieds Group

Reaching the right candidates is the Holy Grail of successful recruitment. As the world becomes smaller and networking tools more agile, many are asking if traditional media techniques are still cutting it. Whilst it’s important for companies to ensure they are reaching and sharing corporate messages with potential targets through traditional recruitment media and tools, there are growing opportunities for companies to directly liaise with candidates and promote themselves through social networking.

Over the last few years social networking has grown from strength to strength. In fact, research has shown that social networking or blog sites are now being visited by three quarters of global consumers who go online and the average visitor spending 66 per cent more time on these sites than a year ago.(1) With such a strong and dedicated audience, many businesses are hoping to capitalise on the new recruitment opportunities presented by this medium. By utilising this new form of communication and maximising the tools it offers, businesses can not only become more efficient in reaching targets online but also help drive cost savings.

For example, eBay Classifieds Group has implemented a social networking strategy to reach candidates at all levels in the market. To establish this social networking strategy, the group identified the challenges it faces when trying to reach the most suitable talent: how to best connect with talent and where; and how to provide the required information in a fresh and genuine way — challenges that are common to many companies.

How to connect with talent and choose the right network for the job

Resources can be wasted by connecting with ‘unknown’ candidates, therefore it is fundamental to determine and agree on the business objectives for the activity before making contact. It can be tempting for companies to look at the vastness of social networks and default to simply listing jobs, however eBay Classifieds Group argues that this can create an intense volume of administration and paperwork, with few results.

A good first step for companies is fishing out the talent by utilising its existing network. For example, eBay Classifieds Group began developing its outreach through referral networks and made a purposeful decision to network with its own employees on LinkedIn. This has proved very successful as the company is now directly connected to over 50,000 people in the internet and online media industries, subsequently linking the HR department with high-potential candidates who already have a referral from existing colleagues.

In addition, social networks and online communities can be used effectively to find very niche markets and talents, for example locating students for a drive in graduate recruitment, candidates on maternity leave, or a member of a Spanish-speaking community. With this in mind it is worth spending time finding the right outlet for the specific recruitment objective.

Many businesses solely focus on LinkedIn and Facebook due to the relatively easy nature of being able to build groups and profiles, which offer outlets for additional information and a ‘base’ location for information.

How to provide the required information for candidates in a genuine way

More than ever candidates are ready to engage with potential employers on social networks and appreciate the additional information available online. However, to ensure the strategy is truly effective in attracting the best talent, eBay Classifieds Group advises that the content on social networking sites must be genuine. Featuring testimonials of existing staff can help to personalise a business to new audiences by illustrating the company culture and highlighting positive brand messages in a credible way.

Social networks can be an effective way to express the corporate ethos of the brand, and to speak to candidates in their own language. They can be more visually creative and personal than a company’s website, incorporating interesting links, video content and images.

For example, eBay Classifieds Group is developing video job descriptions for candidates to host online, as the business recognises the opportunity to communicate in more informative, digital formats. Videos bring to life a company’s ethos and personality, and candidates can potentially meet their manager and see the office they’d be working in even before requesting an interview.

When implementing a social networking strategy, companies should not forget about their corporate websites. eBay Classifieds Group has weaved its corporate and consumer social media presences throughout its company website, transforming the traditional dotcom website into a more dynamic, ever-changing informational site for recruitment.

All in all, social networks present a valuable opportunity for recruiters and as long as the channels are used to meet business objectives, social networking can be an effective way to reach new audiences. Smart choices, smart approaches and understanding targets will ensure that companies receive the best results from the social network approach to recruitment.

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