The Big 3 Questions of Social Recruiting

excerpt from How To Build A Successful Social Recruiting Strategy by Matt Charney

There are three questions to turn connections into candidates, and candidates into hires:

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to finding and retaining top talent? There’s always that one req or passive candidate profile that’s the most pressing, the most critical,
and, by general rule, the most difficult for which to source. It’s the one with an empty talent pipeline where “just-in-time” was yesterday. And, of course, market demand is creating a revolving door for the “A players” whom you’ve already managed to bring on board. No matter what the title or department, if it’s the role or function that is the most imperative to your company’s business objectives, it’s the one you need to concentrate your social recruiting efforts on. It’s likely the one that’s taking up most of your time, anyway. And the social channels, content, and messaging that will resonate with, say, a Ruby-on-Rails developer is going to differ significantly from retail general managers.

Like job boards, these candidates not only have completely different niche sites (e.g. GitHub, StackOverflow vs. the National Retail Federation Community) but also different segments, like groups and fan pages, within general sites such as Facebook and Twitter as well. Fortunately, Facebook’s Open Graph search makes it easy to find, follow, and engage with groups or specific pages simply by typing in the target title or industry; similarly, hashtags on Twitter (try Twubs hashtag directory) are great at getting in front of the right candidates and standing out from the noise whilst staying on top of industry news, trends, and other relevant information.

That’s why it’s important to not only know which candidates you’re targeting, but to tailor your social efforts specifically
to them by not only targeting for specific job openings,
but adding expertise, insight, and value to industry- and function-specific conversations. Engage to make a professional connection, not to make a hire.

Bottom line: Social media saves time and should enhance,
 not replace, your current talent acquisition strategies. But
it won’t fix what’s fundamentally broken. So if it comes
down to elements such as negative market perception or low recruitment ad response rate, you’re best served spending your time addressing the underlying issues, instead of exacerbating them through social amplification.

What are you doing to overcome this challenge for recruitment and retention? To build an effective social recruiting strategy, you have to know your objectives. And if you’re in the business of people, there’s only one objective: to find the best talent possible as efficiently, and effectively, as possible. This means being able not only to demonstrate tangible results, but to measure, analyze, and report on those results.

That’s why, as great as social media is at generating the unstructured part of the big data puzzle, you can’t build a business case, or quantify the value of social recruiting, without first building the benchmarks and dashboards incorporating historical, structured data. In other words, meaningful metrics matter. And getting an accurate picture of source-of-hire data might be the most meaningful metric of all in building a social recruiting plan.

While these obviously differ by companies, the 2013 Career XRoads Source of Hire Study, arguably the most comprehensive report in the industry, evidences some common and pervasive trends across verticals, functions, and locations. This year’s report shows that, for all sourcing and spend dedicated to identifying and recruiting external talent, the top source of hire is actually current employees (42 percent of hires), followed by employee referrals (24.5 percent).

This means that, statistically speaking, your time spent building and engaging on social media should focus less on engaging prospective employees and more on increasing awareness of open positions and leveraging the connections of your current employees instead. One great way to do this is by starting closed groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, where your employees are likely already spending their time, and populating them with both current jobs and insights/advice on career growth and management specific to your organization.

Another is by adopting or using an existing internal collaboration tool such as Sharepoint or Yammer to push out career-related information and opportunities to your existing employee population. Offering structured referral bonuses or indirect incentives for successful referrals gives employees a reason to stay engaged, informed, and active in these groups, as well as motivation for turning ad hoc referrals into ongoing brand ambassadors—necessary allies in the war for top talent.

Bottom line: Engage your employees and hiring managers; they’re your most likely candidates, or the most likely to have that next hire in their network. Social media is the easiest way to connect the dots and transform their connections into candidates and hires.

Don’t look at social media as a sourcing tool, however. Think of it as an engagement and relationship building tool; indeed, the same Career XRoads report showed that while 92 percent of employers use social media for recruiting, those same
social networks only accounted for a paltry 2.9 percent of hires, proving that these channels remain more effective for sustaining long-term relationships than creating short-term, just-in-time hires.

Why should top talent want to work for you? Part of social media’s value lies in its intrinsic democratization of information, and with more than 90 percent of employers using social media for recruiting, this means that, as opposed to a proprietary database such as an applicant tracking system (ATS), social networks have shared databases. This means that if you successfully use these channels to find and engage a qualified, interesting, and available candidate, chances are that your competition has, too.

The key to successful competitive differentiation lies in building a coherent employer brand across channels and platforms that appeal not only to the head, like traditional job descriptions, but also the heart. That’s why accurately representing your company culture and prominently featuring your organization’s current employees in your social efforts is critical.

Culture branding creates an effective screening technique, increasing organizational fit while providing a realistic portrayal of what your company is like, and why it’s a great place to build a career. The easiest way to do this, again, is by engaging the company’s current employees, providing them with the training and tools to effectively represent your employer brand. It’s critical to enable, rather than enforce, social media usage.

Bottom line: The conversation is already happening, and (scary for most HR pros) there’s no way to control it. But letting candidates and employees know you’re listening sends a powerful message that you care about what they have to say and are there to support them. Because that’s what managing talent is really all about.

Job descriptions, title, compensation, and recruitment advertising look a lot alike, but at the end of the day, top talent makes its decision based on one single competitive differentiation: your company’s culture and the people who create it.

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