Social recruiting is the art and science of finding, attracting, and hiring job candidates through social media—and it has never been more essential. New social platforms are popping up every few years, and established social networks are growing more complex. Knowing what to do, and perhaps more importantly, what not to do, can make or break your social recruiting efforts.
Whether you hope to expand an existing program, or are just getting started, this guide is meant to orient you to where you are on your roadmap, decide where you’re headed, and determine which step to take next.
This guide is for talent professionals like you who wisely suspect they can be reaching more candidates, expanding employer brand awareness, and ultimately converting more quality applicants on social media. But just as wisely, you want to know what it’s really going to take before diving in.
This is the manageable primer on social media for the busy talent pro—a guide that proves you never have to hit “social media guru” status to start finding great talent online. Here you will learn how to envision and execute a realistic plan for launching or expanding your social recruiting efforts without losing your mind.
All set? Let’s go.
Most social media and social recruiting guides immediately launch into the how-to’s, overlooking arguably the most important step in the process: goal setting, consensus building, and planning.
These steps are important for any new initiative, but they are critical for any effort involving social media—perhaps the most mysterious and misunderstood public medium today. Now, in order to create a successful route, you need to decide on the right destination. So, what are your goals? Let's build your business case for social recruiting.
Whether you need leadership buy-in for this effort, or if you already have the green light to push forth, this exercise is crucial. Tying your efforts to business objectives will help align and unify your efforts towards a shared goal.
Reverse engineer your plan
Too often people begin at the starting line, eager to take their first step. In a way, that sounds intuitive. But when you think about it, how all of us navigate from point A to point B—when using a map or GPS—is by first specifying the destination.
Only after supplying this information can a map or tool assess how to make the journey.
For hiring and talent professionals, it comes down to one question: What talent goals can you realistically achieve with social recruiting?
Here are some results which our clients have credited to social recruiting:
Social media offers unprecedented potential for reach and connection with people all over the world—be they friends, family, customers, or candidates. If you're in the business of people, social media is a necessary medium.
Consider these facts, stats, and demographic data on the top social media sites.
How do Americans use social media?
How do job seekers use social media?
How do employers and recruiters use social media?
As you can see, the question is no longer if, but how you are going to engage. Let’s talk about how to start.
Mapping out your course is a critical exercise that not only helps visualize what success looks like in the short and long term, but also helps flesh out the details in order to fully illustrate the business value to stakeholders.
As with the start of any new endeavor, there will be lots of questions to answer. These questions can come from your own curiosity, your team members, or even colleagues from other departments that are eager to learn where this program is headed, as well as the type of investment to get there. The key elements to investigate include:
Business Impact: Why is social recruiting the right investment? What are our chances for meaningful impact and success? How is this tied to our most immediate and/or pressing talent goals?
Investment: What resources are required to make that level of impact?
Timing: How long until we can realistically achieve that impact? Why embark on this now?
Below we walk through the steps in how to conduct the research that will inform your roadmap, and with each step we provide an example of how that research can help you build your business case for social recruiting.
As stated above, we recommend you start by marking your destination — the goal — and working backwards.
Make a list of the 3 to 5 competitive brands in your industry and/or locale who have a strong social media presence. Include links to their social profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Do they share career- or job-related content? Place a star where you see any job-related content, which can include a separate careers channel, a careers tab on Facebook, posts about company culture, or job posts.
We know that Competitor 1, 2, and 3 have an established social media presence which includes job-related content targeted for the candidates we also seek.
Approximately how many posts do they publish a day? Of the posts, how many are related to their employment brand or employment opportunities? Do they get their real employees involved? Can you determine when the page was established? Are they publishing different jobs types on different platforms?
Their careers-related content and pages appear to have been published only eight months ago, and since then they’ve been experimenting with distributing about 6-8 job posts on each channel. Each post links directly to their ATS.
How can you be better? Do you see any gaps in their content? Do they appear to have candidates engaging on their page? If you click on a job post, where does it land? Do their posts have calls-to-action, links, images, and relevant hashtags?
None, however, seem to be applying the best practices in optimizing this content for search. We also find a lack of employer branding content known to engage candidates and nurture potential applicants online. These are two areas where we can definitely compete for attention and achieve results right from the start.
Make a list of 3 to 5 brands inside or outside of your industry that represent an ideal social presence. What do your competitors have yet to achieve compared to this ideal? What is feasible in 3 to 6 months time? What can be accomplished in a year?
While our competitors have clearly established social recruiting programs, it appears they have yet to truly make an impact. An example of a company that is making an impact is Brand 1, which has a talent community hashtag dedicated to just its employer brand and ties together an active online community comprised of existing and prospective hires.
Look for success stories and testimonials from companies with a similar size, industry, or market reporting increased brand awareness and reach on social media. Note the number of job views, clicks, hires, time-to-fill, cost-per-hire, and other available talent metrics.
While we do not have insight into the results of our competitor’s social recruiting efforts, I have found several case studies that speak to our same hiring challenges and goals, including one on Ulta Beauty, which reported a 53% YOY increase in hires through social media alone.
Now that a realistic end goal has been illustrated through examples, case studies, and competitive analysis, it’s time to connect this goal of launching a successful social recruiting program to your existing goals. End with a quick summary of how you envision completing the first milestone and propose a reasonable timeline.
Since our hiring goal is to not only find new sources of talent but to also establish and grow an engaged talent pool of potential candidates, social media is a relatively low-cost, low-risk strategy for us to try now. However, the longer we wait, the more ground our competitors cover, and the faster our competitive advantage narrows.
We propose launching our official social recruiting presence in the next 2 to 3 months. This will involve working with the marketing department on scheduling several job-related posts per week on the existing company Facebook feed, as well as launching new social properties dedicated solely for careers-related content on Twitter and LinkedIn.
At this stage, the most significant investment will be bandwidth—however, since we have over 20 open jobs per month, we will also be researching tools to help streamline the social media management as we scale the program.
Now for the fun part. You have a good idea of the resources that are required and outcomes to expect from social recruiting. Time to start collecting assets, hit early wins and milestones, and make your presence known on social media.
But first, a check-in: Are you feeling a bit of nervous energy, a pinch of confusion, all mixed with excitement? This is common at the start of any project because it's the moment you have the most unanswered questions, some which you may have to answer to the best of your abilities just to be able to move forward. Questions like...
Other familiar headscratchers include:
These questions are of the "soul searching" kind, and while they are good questions that naturally pop up during this process, beware of the impulse to answer them immediately and/or "perfectly" at this stage.
Questions like these can spur a team into a thoughtful discussion, but they can also spiral groups into a larger, interdepartmental exercise that becomes bigger than the task at hand requires.
Blink once and half a month can pass by without much tangible progress made to establishing your social media properties.
To keep pushing a project forward, balancing the known and the unknown is key. Before you go down a long and winding road, we recommend the following:
Additionally, here are some webinars we recommend that can help you approach these types of questions head-on:
We have found that these open-ended topics become much easier and quicker to take on once you have a proof of concept around which to frame that discussion. In social recruiting, that first proof of concept is usually the social media property—the Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages through which you publish content, build community, and reach potential applicants.
You might have the autonomy to establish a company page right out of the gate, or you may decide to apply these best practices on your own social media account to first gauge the potential and achieve a viable proof of concept.
Whatever the case, step 2 is about helping you achieve this proof of concept thoughtfully and quickly so you can make the best first impression on social media with your candidate community, as well as with your internal stakeholders. We will cover the more concrete concepts surrounding the type of social feeds to establish, the type of content to post, the recommended post times and frequencies, and more.
Still somewhat nervous, a pinch confused, and altogether excited? Great! You're exactly where you need to be. Onward we go!
Facebook was founded in 2004. Three years later, they introduced brand pages from where companies can establish a social presence and engage directly with "fans," or what we now call "followers." Now there are over 60 million active company pages on Facebook. (Source: Venture Beat)
Social media has given companies unprecedented opportunity to engage with the public more directly and more often. From that engagement, they can nurture a powerful community that spurs new customers and candidates alike.
But what if you don't have that engaged following right now?
While building an active online community is something to aspire to, rest assured that it is still possible to reach the right candidates without an active social following at the start. This brings us to one of the biggest myths in social recruiting.
You have to have a large online following or a recognizable brand to win at social recruiting.
Social networks act as search engines. In one day, Twitter users log “hundreds of millions” of tweets, but perform 2 billion search queries. Searching and consuming content on Twitter is the most popular activity, and that content includes job postings.
The goal is to exist on that network when a candidate searches for you, your jobs, your industry, or your relevant keywords and hashtags. This is a best practice you can employ from the start, and is not dependent your number of followers.
But before we get into the anatomy of a social recruiting post, let's first talk about a more fundamental question...
This guide focuses on the three most commonly used social media sites for social recruiting: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. While there are other platforms specific to your industry that are worth considering, we have found that employers across all industries find value in maintaining a social presence on at least one of these sites. Many companies build an online community across all three sites as one platform may supply more fitting candidates for one job type or location over another platform.
While establishing a presence on all three sites is ideal for most companies, you may need to narrow down your options at the start if your resources are limited.
There are three fundamental questions to consider when making this choice, in order of importance:
Seems like a no-brainer, but really take a moment to consider where your candidates may be actively looking for jobs, as well as where they are passively spending their time online. Strive for early wins by considering which platform may serve candidates for (1) your most common requisitions and (2) your hardest-to-fill positions. Hiring and growing a candidate pool for either of these categories of positions will produce the best proof of concept for your overall social recruiting effort.
If you don't know where your candidates might be on social media, ask your employees—especially those who serve in the role of your most common open requisitions and your hardest-to-fill positions. Your employees play an important role within your social recruiting efforts by acting as Brand Ambassadors that help spread your employment brand and opportunities. Knowing where they reside online is critical to the success of your social hiring initiative.
By "where," we mean where they may already have a presence, as well as "where" they are culturally as a company with adopting social media. If your company has a corporate Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn page, then the effort of expanding that online brand awareness is ideologically an easier pitch. But if your company is less familiar with one platform—especially if it is a platform that answers the prior two questions above—then this is your opportunity to use this guide to educate the key stakeholders to the platform's potential for hiring and brand awareness.
Now that you have a sense of which platform you intend to plant your first flag, the next question is...
When we say "types" of social recruiting properties, we are referring to accounts that are specifically tailored to speak to a candidate or employee audience, as opposed to most corporate social accounts that were founded to reach a consumer audience.
Here are the types of social media accounts hiring teams typically establish that are separate from marketing-focused social media properties:
A Company Page is a branded social media page, property, or profile primarily founded for marketing purposes and typically posts content that speaks directly to customers and customer personas.
A Career Page is a separate social media page, property, tab, or profile founded for talent acquisition and retention purposes and typically posts employer branding content—company culture, employee events and perks, general job seeker tips, etc.—that speaks directly to potential candidates and current employees.
A Jobs Page is a social media page, property, tab, or profile founded primarily for talent acquisition and retention purposes and typically posts job openings that speak directly to potential job candidates and current employees. These posts are often optimized for search and can even be indexed by search engines, like Google, so that they can display as Google Search results. See Nintendo’s Jobs Page on Twitter.
A Recruiter Profile is the social media page of an individual that helps reach, engage with, and ultimately recruit talent on behalf of a company. As individuals on social media, recruiter profiles can produce more varied content that mixes employer brand, company culture, and job posts, as well as professional posts about the recruiting profession.
The aim of a recruiter profile is to establish thought leadership among a candidate base that conveys an approachable and knowledgeable presence. Many candidates prefer to contact individual recruiters first to more personally and directly connect with a peer, as opposed to connecting with branded career or jobs pages.
These separate social recruiting properties afford HR teams a more dedicated channel to communicate employment brand and opportunities. They also provide a solution to hiring teams who may have limited collaboration or access to marketing-owned and -led social media accounts. While having an independent social property for talent acquisition and branding has its benefits, it is best practice to establish a rapport and partnership with marketing as you launch your social recruiting program.
HR and marketing have a lot to learn and gain from one another in the context of social media and social recruiting. HR teams who are just starting out their social hiring initiatives have a lot to gain from the already established exposure that existing social media accounts are garnering. It is much easier to build upon an existing audience than to start completely from scratch.
The marketing team, on the other hand, is always in search for more ways to increase overall engagement and traffic to social media sites. Often, what marketing teams come to discover is that company photos that highlight employees, chronicle company events, and show company culture are among the most popular pieces of content that attract likes, shares, and followers.
Marketing can also benefit from adjacent HR projects that invite participation from an employee base that may not be as active on corporate social media accounts.
If you focus the conversation around the potential successes HR and marketing can reach together, you’re more likely to form a powerful ally for a more formalized social recruiting effort.
Another top reason to collaborate with marketing? They can help supply the assets and resources—such as logos, pre-approved images and copy, existing style and brand guidelines, and other necessities—for the journey ahead. (Trust us, you’ll want that.)
Below are the typical elements you will need to complete a social media profile or page.
Aim for a simple and straightforward name (also referred to as a "handle") that is easy to understand, search, and remember.
For Twitter, companies should always claim their Twitter handle @[company name]. If that is already established by your company and you wish to launch an independent talent-focused account, the most common variations are @[company name]Careers or @[company name]Jobs. Learn more.
Naming your Facebook company page is a little different. Once you establish a page, you are first assigned a generic URL (e.g. http://www.facebook.com/pages/[company name]/857469375913?ref=ts). However, once you have just 25 followers, you will be able to assign a vanity URL. Learn more.
On LinkedIn, you can specify your unique URL as soon as you create a page. Learn more.
We take a closer look at each social network later in this guide, but since establishing your unique handle and URL on each platform is one of the first tasks to complete and should be done as soon as possible, we’ve provided the quick links below. Make sure to also have a valid work email address and designate a password to be shared with other members of the team.
You will need an official company logo for a Career, Company, or Jobs page. A recruiter profile will of course require a profile picture of that individual. Social media sites also provide a secondary branding opportunity with a banner image that spans across the top of the page. Each social platform has specific image size requirements for any assets you upload, so be sure to note those as you request assets from your team.
You will need to develop copy for your profile description or bio. Each social media platform will have specific character limits for this section. But for now, what is most important to note is that these words, alongside your brand image, act as a welcome message. They are the first impression you will leave with anyone who visits your site.
When drafting your company profile and bio, we advise to first look at your existing assets and see if there is approved copy that you can pull from or reuse. But also, remember to think beyond the standard, filler text.
Do your research on companies in your space and employers who may be competing for similar talent. Observe how they summarize who they are and what details they choose to highlight in this limited space.
Make sure to also include a link in your bio to your career site or other social channels. Links serve as a “call-to-action” for candidates to click and learn more about your company, your values, and your open jobs.
In the first few weeks after you establish your social media account, you want to also develop “seed content.” This content refers to the first few posts that you will be publishing in your feed soon after you claim your accounts. These posts will show visitors that your site is live and being managed, but will also serve as the first pieces of content to gauge interest and to test what gets visitors clicking.
Writer's block? Or perhaps stage fright? Both are very common when hitting “post” on your first social media update, but we caution you to not overthink it. One way to calm the fears or doubts is, once again, to do your research. See what companies in your space are doing. Evaluate both tone and messaging and see how yours compares side-by-side—an exercise your candidates may already be doing to you.
We will cover the best practices for social recruiting content in the next chapter of this guide.
Depending on your corporate culture and structure, getting sign-off on any project can either be a roadblock or an opportunity to ally with other departments and leaders of your team. Especially in highly regulated industries, social media is often perceived to be more of a potential liability than a benefit to the company. However, you would be surprised to learn that industries where you expect the most strict oversight are not only participating in social recruiting, but they are leading by example. Check out how the National Security Agency has raised the bar for all social recruiters.
Nevertheless, it is common for marketing, legal, and even fellow colleagues in HR or Talent Acquisition to have questions about how you and your employees will be interacting on social media.
The first step is to always determine which approvals, if any, are absolutely necessary to move the project forward.
If approvals are required and you anticipate questions that could challenge the launch of a social recruiting program, we advise that you prepare to address these objections ahead of time.
Lastly, sometimes you can find guidance from fellow colleagues and even vendors who are well-versed in launching and powering social media and social recruiting efforts. Learn how we partnered with this healthcare organization to successfully implement social recruiting and boost their hiring efforts.
Perhaps there is no other rule more advised, repeated, and abused on social media than this: Be authentic
The virtue of being authentic on social media remains the ideal that many—including, and especially, companies—are expected to adopt.
While honesty is the best policy, remember that you do have a choice on how much you reveal and the tone in which you choose to communicate.
While maintaining professionalism is key, social media often gives organizations some license to relax their corporate tone, which is often welcomed and celebrated by many on social media. Candidates will often come to your social media site in search of the more “human” and, well, “social” side of the brand that they may have already encountered on your website or careers page. When done right, sharing this more personal side of your brand will garner one of the most highly coveted characteristics in a successful recruiting strategy—trust.
Striking the right balance between personal and professional is a unique exercise for every brand. Whenever you find yourself evaluating whether your social media post or profile is too casual or too buttoned up, we find the “cocktail party” scenario applies to most situations:
What kind of cocktail party or mixer would your industry host? What kind of topics are fair game at these events, and what are definitely off limits? The key is to present topics that inspire thought, engagement, and (for those who are talented enough to pull it off) even laughter.
Lastly, see what tone has already been set by those in your space, and consider how you can add to, and also safely deviate from, the established norm so you can stand out at the party.
Aside from inquiring about the right tone and content, talent and recruiting professionals often ask whether they need to incorporate their own personal social media accounts or establish new professional accounts.
To decide what’s most suitable for you, consider first the followers you currently have on your personal account. Would your followers find your recruiting content engaging or worthy of sharing with their own network? If so, leveraging your existing profile and earned network of followers may help your social recruiting efforts, especially as you establish a presence.
However, if your followers on your personal account are mainly family and friends in which you would refrain from sharing job seeker content and job information, then you may want to establish a separate account to support your brand’s social efforts.
With that said, many talent professionals find that careers- and job-related content often generates the most engagement from their community.
Why? We believe it’s because posts about employees, company culture, and careers content—including posts that announce job opportunities and openings—are typically viewed as positive, non-controversial content that can more easily garner likes and shares among your social network.
Now, the way in which you share those opportunities can increase the engagement on your post and overall page even more, and lead to greater brand awareness both within and beyond your existing social network. For example, phrasing your post as a question such as “Can you recommend anyone for this job?”, as in the example above, tends to generate more reactions, and even referrals, from your community.
As a talent professional, adding job-related content to your personal and professional social feed is not only welcomed, but expected. The issue is not whether you share this content at all, but more so what frequency in which you should share it so as to not exhaust your network with job posts.
This is why content variety is key. Crafting content beyond the job posting can add dimension to your content stream, attract different members in your networks, and nurture trust in you and your brand.
Next, we’ll discuss the best practices in creating quality content—both social job posts and engagement posts—that are optimized to reach more high quality candidates, engage new audiences, and expand your community on social media.
CareerArc’s Essential Guide to Social Recruiting is the comprehensive resource for learning how to best attract and hire candidates where they live today—on social media. Access all nine chapters of this guide now and discover how to: