A newbie’s 10 considerations for social media recruitment (UPDATED)

Have you seen the film  A Bugs Life?  If you have you’ll remember the scene where the two bugs are flying perilously close to one of those blue light thingys that emit a fatal electric shock if an insect flies into it:


“Don’t go into the light!”


“I can’t help it.  Its beautiful”




That’s me when it comes to a new toy in the world of recruitment.  Be it new software, hardware, a new gadget or platform etc I just can’t help turn into that kid in the sweet shop.  It’s exactly the same with social media in recruitment.  I’m fascinated by it and try as I may to not get caught up in all the hype sometimes I just can’t help myself.


One thing I have learnt over my time in recruitment is that I always come back to the good ol’ tried and tested.  Things change, for sure.  I always run head first into the new and exciting, have a play (some might argue spend too much time and effort at the expense of the day-to-day).  I then end up disappointed in the realisation a lot of it is just hype, sensationalism and rumours.  I often find myself incorporating the small elements that work but discarding the majority that don’t


But social media is different isn’t it?  Its got to be surely?  At the time of typing this there’s more than half a billion on Facebook and rising.  (We may actually be closer to 3/4 of a billion by now – or bloody damn close at least).   over a 100,000,000 on LinkedIn with new members joining at a rate of 1 per second (it may be even faster now).


Over the last couple of months I’m been spending a lot of time (perhaps an unhealthy amount) submersing myself in social media and researching where it fits in the world of recruitment.  I’ve done my fair share of reading, have attended a couple of conferences, am following those on Twitter that appear to be thought leaders in the field, I’m engaging with them in discussions on LinkedIn and reading their blogs.



It’s time to hit the pause button and consolidate my thoughts so here goes. Here are the patterns, repeated messages I keep on getting from my numerous sources mentioned above (in no particular order):


  1. One of your first goals of using social media in recruitment needs to be to drive traffic to an excellent careers site that includes obvious calls to action.  (I’ll be looking at career site considerations in a post I’m in the process of pulling together).
  2. You’re audience won’t always use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter et al but in today’s world they need to at least have the option.  Recruitment is still and always will be about candidate engagement. Social Media just makes this easier.
  3. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc are not networks! They are platforms.  They’re platforms you use to get people to engage with you.
  4. You can’t generalise how people use these platforms.  People in different sectors, markets and industries will use them differently.  You’ve got to ensure you research how your target audiences use these platforms and approach them on their turf, on their terms and in their language.  Keep communication style  conversational.  Corporate speak is a big no no.
  5. You need to give, give, give!  The take will happen when people become more associated with you. Give folks news on the industry you work within.  Join groups and engage in discusssions on LinkedIn.  Offer advise and opinions.  It’s not just a case of pushing your jobs on to Twitter and / or  through your LinkedIn and Facebook status updates and hoping the masses will come flocking. (this is a form of social media recruitment but at a very basic level – more akin to the days of Web 1.0 and simply sticking your vacancies on the job boards).
  6. Before you start with social media in recruitment you need robust metrics.  You’ve got to understand, “this is where we are and this is where we want to be.” If you can’t do it your agency partner needs to do it for you.  If they can’t do it why are they your agency?
  7. It’s a medium to long term plan.  You could be looking at at least 6 months until you see a return.
  8. You need to determine what success will look like. To the untrained eye it will usually be about the recruitment bottom line i.e. how many people you actually offer.  However, there are more metrics to be considered.  Is it quantity? Quality? Number of discussions being had? Number of Followers / fans / likes? (if you use this one ensure you’re measuring active fans and followers. to say you have 100,000 “fans” is one thing. If only 100 are actively engaging with you and your content that’s obviously something quite different). Number of applications as a result of your activity?  Traffic driven to your website? What people do once they’re directed to your website? A combination of some or all of these? Etc etc.
  9. You need to keep an eye on your employee image.  There are many systems / tools available to help you do this.  Nokia use Stredfast to:
    • See how ACTIVE you’re being in the socialsphere – number of comments you make, discussions you’re having, chats, tweets you’re tweeting etc.
    • Measure your REACH. Are you being retweeted? Are you being “liked”? Are you being blogged about?
    • See if you’re ENGAGING – How many “question replies” are you getting, likes, retweets, mentions, recommends,  link backs etc.
  10. It requires an investment in time! (it’s not free either!)  Sending out 1 tweet a week or building a Facebook page and not engaging with your audience just won’t do.  The most amount of time and investment will be required to get things out of the ground.  Then its a case of regularly feeding the beast.  This can be a dedicated team / team member / 3rd party who does it on a full-time basis down to someone spending  30 minutes a day on it.  However it is they need to understand social media, how it works and the faux pas’s to avoid.


So there you have it.  For many of you (check me out, “many”.  I mean, “the few of you that will probably see this post”) this will be pretty basic stuff.  As a relative newbie to social media recruitment these are the messages I’ve been hearing loud and clear having spent the last couple of months playing with this new toy.

What are the other big themes others are noticing out there?  I’d be keen to hear from newbs  and veterans a like.


***Update 1***

I wanted to share a superb post by a lady named Patrica Redsiker who wrote this brilliant piece about another absolutely essential element you must sort out at the beginning of any SMR strategy: First Things First – Content Strategy Before Social Media. Thanks Andy Headworth for bringing to my attention via Twitter.  Without a doubt this needs to be added to the list so now consider it as “A newbie’s 10 11 considerations for social media recruitment (SMR)”



***Update 2***

A few weeks on and more lessons learnt.  Find out what those lessons are HERE



***Update 3***

The journey continues… But THIS is where you should have started!



***Update 4***

An absolute  must read from Dr.John Sullivan over at ERE.net: High Impact Social Recruiting Errors – The Top 30 To Avoid


Hungry for more?  Check me out at www.trecknowledgy.com - a blog about training and coaching through recruitment complexities, and please feel free to subscribe.  Follow on Twitter @TRecKnowledgy also.

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