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Social Media in Recruiting and Job Search

One of the first uses of social media ties between a company and an individual is sales and marketing communications. Many miss this legitimate point: there is nothing different about the message if it is just warmed over crap on a different medium. The use of social media for recruiting is the probably the most significant use in that it contributes to both the lifeblood of a company and the livelihood of prospective employees. There is probably no other interaction that offers more rewards to the winners and dire consequences to the losers. There is also a portion of this population that will not get it and simply use old tactics without taking full advantage. This topic deserves its own discussion in the overall scheme of how things should work in the dialog through social media.

For companies engaging in social media recruiting, to be successful there has to be an evangelist that understands how to make it more effective than old school. It is also important not to throw out the baby with the bath water… old school still works. In a recent article on Social Media Recruiting 2013 by Alison Doyle, she lists the statistics on recruiter use of the various social media platforms with some surprising numbers. It is much bigger than you might think. But this is more than just recruiters using social media to connect. True social media recruiting is a cohesive program with specific factors involved.

  • Innovation – Moving beyond traditional recruiting techniques is critical to grabbing interest. It also differentiates the company from others operating in the same space. Copycat social media presence that uses a dynamic communications tool as merely a means to broadcast one-way information not work.
  • Targeting – Defining the target audience for a true dialog is important in any communications medium and is imperative for social media use. Recruiters must fish where they are biting, so knowing all the things about the desired catch makes all the difference.
  • Branding – Social media cannot repair a bad employment brand. Usually the negativity has been reinforced by methods that need to be fixed first. It is also true that social media can make a good brand look bad with improper attention. Social media is an integral part of the employment brand.
  • Commitment – Rapid response not only possible with social media, it is a known fact that failure to engage in dialog in a timely manner means the conversation is over before it starts. Social media connections must be used consistently or it will not be taken seriously.
  • Dialog – The fear of controversy keeps some away from recruiting through social media. There is a real danger of candidates jumping on a bandwagon of negativity, but this is usually because there was no answer to a common question. Fear of engaging in a dialog reinforces an image of a black hole.
  • Data – Integrate with ATS or CRM in order to create a unified approach to managing candidate flow. All applications are of equal value and frankly it is embarrassing to engage on one channel without knowing that there have been other inquiries through other channels.

Job seekers who think they know all about social media need to step up their A-game to use it as a tool for finding the cure for underemployment or unemployment. They should forget everything they know about Facebook as only for family and close friends and expand the network to business related contacts. Those who don’t know how to differentiate between lists of “friends” need to learn how. Devising a social media plan for a job search campaign will require allotting a portion of the time budget to work that plan.

  • Focus – It takes discipline not to be sucked into playing games on Facebook or chatting about benign topics on Twitter. The online environment is full of distractions and keeping an eye on the goal of finding a job is necessary to be productive.
  • Engagement – The spray-and-pray mentality of a one-way job board is lost in social media. The primary purpose of communicating is to get answers in real time or with reasonable responsiveness. Follow-up and feedback with ongoing conversations keeps it alive.
  • Research – Websites can offer one-way input on companies, hiring managers and recruiters. Social media allows talking interactively about that information and probing more deeply.
  • Access – Being able to connect with other people is one-way thinking. The social way is to be accessible to others. There are multiple options for keeping a ready access to a resume hyperlink that can be shared with others. A protected Twitter account for a job seeker looking to connect doesn’t make sense.
  • Network – Networking works best with two-way communications, so social media is an ideal tool. The key is to remember to be a contact for someone else as well as collecting contacts for self. The branch only ends when it is not fed.
  • Records – It is of utmost importance to keep records of social media contacts. This is not only to facilitate further dialog but to also learn which platforms are important and in use by those contacts. It also prevents approaching someone on LinkedIn as a new contact only to find out that they are already a connection on Twitter.

These essential points are not an all-inclusive list of considerations for recruiting or job seeking on social media. If the focus remains on its use as a dialog, then other things will fall into place. One thing that is important to note is that at least for now social recruiting is only one tool in the arsenal of hiring good people. Likewise, there is anecdotal evidence that job searches on social media result in finding jobs, but giving up other methodologies is not a sound tactic. Learning to make social media a partner and friend in forming and maintaining online relationships sets the stage for even more growth in this area in the future.

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