Intro to social media recruiting

Millions of potential job candidates have posted profiles on social media sites, and their number increases every minute. And as time goes by, the online dossier of a given worker tends to grow with professional accomplishments or personal factoids, whether the individual purposely builds their presence on social media websites, or the data accumulates passively.

For many recruiters and hiring managers, the existence of online candidate information and the ease of accessing it seems to provide a wealth of knowledge and an endless pool of potential job candidates. But such access presents questions for employers, among them: How should our recruiters represent us online? What kind of information should be admitted to the recruitment and hiring processes, and what ignored?

Below are some beginning points for employers and recruiters to consider for their social media recruiting strategies.

Use of social media in recruitment

The number of employers who use social media to research job candidates has increased significantly over the years. While that number used to be just 11% in 2006, more than 80% of organizations recruit via social media as of 2017.

Perhaps the most popular use of social media recruiting is to source prospective applicants, including passive candidates. Others use it as a researching tool to see if there’s information available to verify backgrounds and qualifications. Still others want to see if a given candidate has a professional online presence.

Formulate a strategy and strike the right tone

Social networking companies have made their sites so easy to use that it’s tempting to jump in without considering how your social media marketing strategy should be deployed. “If you’re new to social media, take some time to learn about it,” says Jennifer Jacobson, author of 42 Rules of Social Media for Business. “Find a platform that works for you.”

When HR professionals and hiring managers start their social media recruiting, they need to be aware of the tone they set. “Recruiters are typically pretty aggressive, so they have to be aware of how they come off,” says Rachna Jain, a psychologist and social marketing consultant in Beltsville, Md. For example, rather than aggressively recruiting, “recruiters can talk about the state of their clients’ industry, which becomes a subtle way of attracting prospects.”

On social media, you can publicize your hiring subtly, without directly inviting the submission of hundreds of resumes. On Twitter, for instance, you could say “I’m happy to welcome to our team so-and-so, who’s an expert in such-and-such,” in order to connect with other members doing related keyword searches, says Jain. “It’s a way of putting your company’s successes out there in a manner that’s not overly promotional.”

Be careful with online information

Once candidates are in your hiring pool, it’s tempting to Google them and search social media sites to see what comes up. But the mix of public, private, professional, and personal information that can be found online must be used with abundant discretion, if at all.

“HR tells hiring managers that if you use social networking sites, you must verify the information to avoid liability,” says Steve Williams, director of research at the Society for Human Resource Management. “Misuse can lead to infringement of privacy or unintentional discrimination.” If, for example, you allow information gleaned online about an applicant’s age or marital status to affect a hiring decision, you could invite a lawsuit.

“Companies must be very cautious when determining: (a) if information acquired from the internet is relevant to job performance, and (b) where there is a legitimate and legal reason to discount a candidate based on what they might have posted online,” says Robert Capwell of Employment Background Investigations Inc. Many employers share Capwell’s caution. Of organizations that choose not to screen applicants using social networking sites, around 75% say they have questions about the legality of the process, according to an SHRM survey.

Still, “you may question the judgment of candidates who don’t think about how personal postings can be seen by anyone,” says Jain. If you uncover firm evidence that a candidate has celebrated his abuse of alcohol online, that information is hard to ignore. “Recruiters should try to look at the person as a whole,” says Jacobson. “Look them up on the social media sites, Google them and their email address.” And then, in evaluating the information, use your best judgment together with the advice of the experts.

Hone your recruiting strategies

As social media recruiting demonstrates, the tools and platforms available for sourcing candidates have only multiplied. But just because you can reach and research more job applicants doesn’t mean you’re finding the right ones. Sign up for Monster Hiring Solutions to receive expert recruiting advice, the latest hiring trends, and more.

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