RPO Experts Weigh in on Social Recruiting Strategy, Challenges and Trends

by Brent G Trotter


Social media isn’t always the first place that talent managers think of when it comes to sourcing talent, but one might argue that in the near future, it might be. As of June in 2015, there are about 83 million millennials, which represents more than one quarter of the US population. That’s a segment of the population who is well-adjusted with social media. Understanding and engaging in that landscape is becoming increasingly important, if not mandatory for recruiting and staffing professionals.

In this edition of our #AskAnRPOExpert series, we asked Richard Eib, Partner at 212 Staffing and Mark Bohdanyk, Marketing Manager at HireMojo to talk about the basics of social recruiting, why it’s growing and how it can play an essential role in the hiring process.

What is social recruiting?

Richard Eib: At 212 Staffing we define social recruiting as a combination of role specific advertising campaigns via solutions like Promoted Tweets, Sponsored Hashtags and display advertising, enhanced by using sites like Twitter and Facebook as talent databases to identify candidates that may fit with a client’s hiring needs.

Mark Bohdanyk: Social Recruiting is the practice of using social networks, both to find talent and the much-forgotten practice of using employee social networks to promote open positions -- the intersection of social media and recruiting. This allows employers to learn about and find out more about their potential hires -- and even more importantly, allows candidates to learn more about the company. It removes many of the traditional filters and barriers inherently involved in the hiring and recruiting process.

Why is social recruiting important for talent acquisition professionals?

Richard: Social recruiting is the continued evolution of tools available to recruiters. When I started in recruiting we used newspapers to attract candidates, this then evolved to using Monster, Careerbuilder etc, then to LinkedIn and now recruiters are finally seeing the value of engaging with candidates where they are most comfortable -- social media.

Mark: Social recruiting is important for talent acquisition professionals because it allows them to search through large databases of qualified or near-qualified individuals, but also get a sense of the person they engage with pre-interview.

How would you approach setting up a strategy for engaging with potential candidates on social?

Richard: Social recruiting strategies are subjective. Recruiting in the banking and finance field via social will have a different approach to that say in the digital media/marketing niche. We find that pushing adverts into prospective candidates feeds, whether on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook builds some awareness ahead of outreach via a direct message, inbox message or a blended approach of advertising on social media channels and then outreach via email or LinkedIn.

Mark: I would suggest a three step approach to developing a social recruiting strategy.

One, create a strategy, not tactics. This is the biggest misstep for many companies; they focus on tactics and not what creating a strategy for what the company wishes to see as a return on investment of time and resources.  Are you looking to understand candidate personas better and be exposed at the right time?

Two is about understanding the technology at your fingertips. Today, there are many options for developing your platform/pipeline for candidate flow.  You’ve got to make sure you are taking advantage of the constantly-evolving software to help make your life easier.  Business changes, technology changes.  Be open to changing software, should you find a better alternative.

Finally, understanding the combination of career portal, social and mobile is the future. Using technology-based solutions that allow you to be present wherever and whenever that next 'great hire' is looking is the future of recruiting. If you aren't supporting mobile, then you already have challenges to overcome. Pew research has a stark analysis:  Nearly two-thirds of Americans are smartphone

What are some of the risks of not engaging in social recruiting?

Richard: Companies and specifically recruiters who do not participate in social recruiting are eliminating a substantive portion of people who make up the millennial generation and who are entering or in their early days in the workforce.

Mark: The risks of not engaging in social recruiting are simple:  not being able to reach a larger number of very qualified applicants.

What are the biggest challenges of social recruiting?

Richard: Quality and engagement can be challenging. Depending on the strategy you deploy, you can have wildly successful campaigns that you run and others that are disappointments. It's a case of trial and error and finding what works for you.

Mark: The largest challenge in social recruiting is to remember that it is a tool in your arsenal and not the entirety of your recruiting strategy.  Recruiters need to be diligent in proving this exact point to avoid discrimination, as technology access and age could be considered a form of discrimination.  If you focus all your social recruiting resources on Twitter for example, only 2.6-5% of adults over age 65 utilize the channel.  Age, disability, national origin, sex, race, sexual orientation - who is even doing the recruiting can all be challenges that need to be monitored.  

From a more practical standpoint, it is often difficult to gauge the delivery channel without a formalized survey during the hiring process.  If they see your position via LinkedIn and then visit your careers page and apply, the fact they came through LinkedIn can be lost, depending on your technology.  Do you have a way to ask in the hiring process to be able to show ROI on time and fiscal investment?

Have you seen any recent trends with social media and recruiting that HR professionals should be implementing?

Richard: Snapchat seems to be slowly but surely taking hold. Many of our clients are building a presence, some are making mistakes, but those who are succeeding are marketing opportunities via short snapchat stories.

Mark: The largest trend we have seen is the use of a centralized platform to tie many aspects of recruitment -- job description creation, automatic job board posting to multiple boards, applicant screening, ranking and sorting, applicant interviews and process communication -- together into one cohesive process.

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