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How to Use Social Networks for Hiring New Talent

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Social networks have rapidly become one of the most valuable business tools around and it’s not just the sales, marketing and research functions of your business that can benefit; social media has become an HR issue not only because of the need to create policies for employee usage of it – it is starting to play a huge role in recruitment too.

Employee Screening is Just the Start

Think of social networks and recruitment and most of us think – “Aah yes. If we’re going to hire someone let’s check out their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, and their Tweets, to make sure they are not an axe maniac in their spare time!”

It’s true that employers do use social media profiles for screening candidates; before and after interviews they can be used to find information and to see if it tallies with what’s on the resume and what is discussed in the interview. Employers will even go as far as discounting a candidate based on their Facebook posts! Careerbuilder.com ran a survey where almost two-thirds of managers using social networking sites did not hire a person because of a negative perception of their profile.

It is natural that employers investing large amounts of time and money into hiring people want to make sure they get it right, and so turn to the social networks where their potential employees hang out and post updates about their lives. Hiring the right type of person, with the right cultural fit, is as important to many organisations as getting someone with the right skills or educational background.

Much can be surmised from social network profiles and, just as some things may be correctly interpreted, other may be wrongly assumed.

This seems like a largely negative way of using social media in the recruitment process. It feels like “catching people out”. But there are other, more positive ways to be using it….

Posting Job Openings

If you are looking for bright young talent to join your business, then chances are that they are using Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn. What better place to post open positions and attract the right types of people, with the right technical nous for your business?

Of course there are hundreds of millions of people using these networks so you need to adopt strategies that ensure your job ads get in front of the right pairs of eyes. On Twitter, third party services like Twit Job Search and Tweet My Jobs help to do this.

Relatively few companies have hired directly from a job ad on Twitter (with its 140 character limit) but you can direct candidates to a site where they can get the relevant information on a position and apply.

With Facebook job ads, you only pay when potential candidates click on it. Providing you know your audience and are able to target and customise the ads to attract the right people, this can be a very cost-effective way of hiring.

LinkedIn is a professional network, so you don’t get the pictures of birthday cakes and fluffy pets that you see on Facebook and Twitter. It has over 200 million users and is increasingly being used by companies to generate interest in new jobs and attract candidates. Potential employers can view candidate credentials, backgrounds, connections, group memberships and so on, providing a rounded overview of their professional status. You can also post open positions directly through specialist areas of the site.

Another medium being used is video. American Express India recently posted video job descriptions on YouTube, where existing employees talk directly to potential candidates, informing them about the role and what they can expect from the company’s working culture….which brings us to another way of using social networks for recruitment….

Selling Your Company to Gen Y

If you want to hire the best and brightest candidates, you need to inspire them to come to work for you. Smart, motivated, creative, switched on, Gen Y youngsters are valuable additions to any company and will be much sought after; why should they work for you?

If you are able to create an inspiring and engaging profile of your company and give potential candidates a glimpse of the benefits of working for you, your organisation is far more likely to be able to tap into the talent pool and attract some of the best people, with attitudes, ethics and goals aligned with yours. This is very important for the future stability of your organisation, because if they are a good “fit” with your culture then they are less likely to leave for pastures new.

Social networking sites give you all the tools you need to be able to stand out from the crowd of online businesses and “sell” your company to Gen Y – but be creative to gain an edge.

Connecting with Future Candidates

You may also be able to start making connections with future candidates on social networks. That is, you start creating a network of talented people in your particular field and stay in touch with them. You may be able to approach them when a position does occur. Using LinkedIn groups from your particular industry might be a good way to do this – especially for more senior positions that come up.

Overall, there are many reasons to begin using social networks for hiring the new talent you need. It provides a very cost-effective way to position your organisation as modern, creative, geared towards youth and prepared to push the boundaries. Even if you don’t get that many hires from it at first, you can have some inexpensive fun trying – and you will be better prepared for the future of recruitment.

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