What is social recruiting and why should your company be doing it? To find out we recently had a chat with Andy Headworth who is the author of “Social Media Recruitment, How to Successfully Integrate Social Media into Recruitment Strategy” as well as the Managing Director of Sirona Consulting. He’s also an award-winning blogger and speaker on the international recruiting conference circuit.

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud (embed below) or keep reading for an abridged transcript of our conversation.

Why should you use social recruiting?

There are several aspects to this. The first thing that we’ve all seen over the last few years that existing recruitment methods are not being as effective as they could be to find the best talent. They’re still driving people to sites, they are still driving candidates or applicants through job boards, through LinkedIn adverts etc. But companies are not necessarily finding the calibre of the people they would like just from doing that method.

The other side to that is that we know from statistics that everyone has four to five social networks. Some a lot more, some a few less, which gives us all a digital footprint. That’s data that we can find as recruiters, that’s data that we can engage with, communicate with which is becoming a very big part of social media. The ability to talk, chat, engage with anybody you can find across multiple channels which makes it a much more powerful way of reaching, I’m going to use the word passive talent because that’s the buzz word but reaching the talent that you won’t necessarily get from just placing adverts and doing traditional recruitment methods.

How do you craft a social media strategy?

I’ve got an eight stage process. Which has defined and I use this with clients regularly.

  1. Set Your Objectives. So, the first one is the most important thing, which is actually setting your objectives. So this is the thing that a lot of people don’t do. So they don’t actually know why they are doing it in the first place. So you and I being around this industry long enough to now and have the experience of the CEO that decides to do social media, because their son or daughter says they should do Twitter, we’ve both seen that. But so the first thing is, understand your objectives for each of the platforms that you’ve done your homework on and decide that you’re going to use. So LinkedIn is different to Twitter, it different to Facebook, is different to Pinterest so each will have a different objective.
  2. Define Your Audience. Number two then is, and probably combined with number one is to define your audience. So understand what your audience is, what you’re recruiting for, what they look like, where they are based, what sites they are on, create your persona and map that. And that takes some time but that needs to be done effectively to get some proper results in social.
  3. Choose Your Platforms. Then it’s the question of choosing your platforms. As I said in one, then you set your objectives for those platforms. So most people default and go straight to LinkedIn without even thinking about it, especially in the IT and tech space. A lot of those candidates are no longer active on those platforms, they’re on other ones. So get rid of the assumptions and open your mind.
  4. Select Your People. Number four, make sure you choose the right people in your team that are best suited to and motivated to be involved with your social activities, whether that’s sourcing on social, whether that’s the community managers, whether it’s the recruiting team that are actually doing the engagement and pushing the content out.
  5. Provide Training. They then need to be provided with very, very good training and understanding so that they are using the platforms correctly.
  6. Define Your Content Strategy. What’s the content that’s going to come out on those platforms, is it going to be your content is it going to be other people’s content, is it going to be created by the employees? Whatever that looks like and again with the objective to meet your objectives that you set in stage one so it might be branding, it might be attraction, it might be actually getting them to apply for jobs.
  7. Measurement. You have to measure what you are doing on a weekly or monthly basis. It needs to be tweaked, changed to maintain what you are trying to achieve.
  8. Monitoring. And on ongoing basis things need to be monitored and this is monitoring for your brand, your website, your people, campaigns and simple tools like Google Alerts and Mention are good starting for that. But a lot of the big brands now have Radian6 and Meltwater and all the other ones that are the big monitoring platforms in place.

So that’s the eight stages, each one in it’s one right can get quite complicated as you can appreciate but that the simple process that I use and it works.

How does social media impact employer branding?

A huge impact, in my opinion. I think the availability of social networks has given everybody a voice. So that’s potential employees, existing employees, alumni from your company. And it’s a voice to express opinion, talk about the company, talk about anything to do with that brand as well as the company. So you add in the technology like mobile, the proliferation of video apps, image apps, mobile cameras, the ability to find or to share more content information about what it’s like to work in that particular company, it’s really helping employees now to get a feel for what it’s like to work there, so it’s a very powerful tool.

And for me it’s no longer optional. Yeah, there is an expectancy now from a job seeker to go to a search engine whether that’s Google, whether it’s a career site search engine and find information out about companies. We’re seeing in America Glassdoor, for example, is a lot bigger than it is here in the UK and Europe but we’re seeing them expand here, as more and more people are looking to see what the brand is like online and what people are saying about them. So done well, it massively aids recruitment and retention, done badly or even not at all and I think we know how badly that can affect company.

How do you measure social recruiting ROI?

You could look at the exposure then of how big your networks are to start engaging with people that can expand your exposure again based on your objectives and they are similar with influence. There is another simple but also very complex ROI which is on placements. If you have a very good ATS, if you have a very good recruiting system or CRM system that you can track jobs, for example, or links and effectively tracks back in to the system when people apply or come in via that method, then that’s a very straight forward way of determining an ROI because you can base it on direct applications, for example, from a link.

The challenge with social comes in is, let’s just say you as an organisation push some content out, start engaging people in January. That candidate sees that content in January, it registers for the first time, it’s your brand and thinks what a great place to work but they are a contract at the moment. But you stay in contact with them for three or four months and it might be LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and you start to build a relationship and eventually six months later they come to you. How are you going to track that initial contact, and what will that source of the initial engagement come from be? Would it be that first time they saw you on that social network or would it be the other ones subsequently? So I’m not convinced that’s the easiest part to track ROI, maybe you start looking at the ROI of the engagement piece and measuring that. But I think that’s still the piece that we are probably missing in the industry, the long term tracking of initial contact.

Connect with Andy on Twitter @AndyHeadworth and on LinkedIn. A full-length version of this interview is available at Link Humans: A Guide to Social Media Recruitment with Andy Headworth

social media know-how

About Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO at Link Humans, a social and digital marketing agency.

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