Posting a job advert on Facebook does not constitute social recruiting. Nor does spamming 10 people you’ve never met with the exact same (non-personalized) LinkedIn InMail. If you think social recruiting doesn’t work or it’s a waste of time, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Social recruiting done right can give your the company an edge, and attract and retain necessary talent, which is crucial – but ever-more challenging – in the current landscape.

“Hiring the right talent is a priority for many businesses, and now because of the challenge Brexit brings, it’s also a major concern,” says Julie Bishop, a social recruiting specialist and founder of Jobhop. “If traditional methods are not working anymore then perhaps a more modern approach is needed. Social recruiting is one way to tap into talented candidates online.”

Katrina Collier, social media recruitment trainer at The Searchologist, agrees that Brexit will cause significant problems for recruitment, but that there are other issues as well. “We already know all about Baby Boomers leaving the workforce, but Gen X knowledge workers are following suit, with many setting up on their own. This shrinks the talent pool significantly and is a huge challenge for recruiters.”

Building relationships

Bishop explains that many businesses make the mistake of posting a few job vacancy posts on Twitter and praying it will make top candidates come rushing.

“That’s not social recruiting,” she says. “The keyword is social; it’s all about building relationships, gaining trust and creating engaging communities which you can cherry pick from when the time arises.”

Alexandra LeBlanc-Domain, global partner talent acquisition specialist at The Predictive Index, says: “Investing in and embracing social recruiting is to acknowledge that candidates and prospects are more than just keywords on paper or a screen. When employers are transparent and open to creating meaningful dialogue, their brand value increases, they become more desirable, and candidate satisfaction skyrockets.”

Collier continues:

“The next step is to find extra information about potential candidates through social media. Research what they are talking about on their social profiles and the things they care about, and balance this with an offer that makes your job seem like one that’s worth doing.”

From recruiting to marketing

According to Emma Gunes, co-founder at talent acquisition software Landed, social recruiting involves attracting candidates to a company, rather than just a job.

Gunes explains:

“Work has become a part of people’s lives and something they expect to enjoy. People are increasingly picking companies based on their culture, values and image, as well as looking for a job and company that fits them as a person. Recruiters need to cultivate this culture through social media so they can attract talent that identifies with those values. On our social media accounts, we post pictures of the beautiful view from our office, as well as of the ice-creams they could enjoy, rather than stale pictures of our computers and .”

James Ellis, managing consultant at employer branding organization Bex Consultants, adds: “Recruiters need to engage, sharing brand stories, answering questions and participating in the social conversation. This creates brand awareness and give prospects a more compelling reason to apply.”

To do this, companies need to make the recruitment process similar to a marketing one where you view potential employees as customers rather than candidates, and sell the company to them. As the recruitment funnel begins to resemble a marketing funnel, the point at which you engage with candidates is changing due to the use of social media, as is the way you segment and target.

“It’s important to know who you want to target so you can turn complete strangers into social audiences and then into employees,” says Gunes. “This involves drawing up a target persona taking into account factors such as location, current occupation, age, and interests.”

“Companies ignoring social media will see their talent pool shrink as their competition uses social media to engage with prospects higher in the funnel and draw talent them before you even know they are looking for a job,” adds Ellis.

Content is still king

A key way to do this is through creating content across different channels, stemming from your website and blog to social media.

“Social recruiting must have a good content strategy,” says Bishop. “What makes you the preferred employer, why do your employees love their jobs, what’s so special about your company culture?”

Collier advises companies to use employee-generated content to help shape the image of your company on social media. She cites CA Technologies as a good example of this, as its employees can share photos on its Instagram account and tag the company.

“Genuine pictures of your people and offices work much better than boring, corporate pictures,” she says. “If your offices are shabby then show that. If the working hours are unsociable, make that clear. Your candidates will find out the truth eventually and they won. Marriott’s careers Facebook is another good example, as it’s not just a stream of job adverts and corporate news, instead it provides a glimpse of what it’s really like to work there.”

Recruiters become marketers

According to Collier, this practice of cultivating the right image on social media extends to recruiters.

“Firstly, you need to look like someone worth talking to if you’re going to attract the top talent,” says Collier. “This applies not just to the company image, but your own personal one. Optimize each channel in the right way: for example, add some more personal information on your Twitter account. This could be about your love for French food, skiing, and dogs, for example. But make sure your LinkedIn profile details your professional experience, and your Facebook account is locked down.”

If you can build a fanbase of people who organically follow and like both you and your company through content then you will have a much larger base of people to reach out to when you are hiring, and are likely to have more success.

“Social recruiting lets you target passive candidates,” says Gunes. “If you contact a potential employee who may not be looking for a job but is already a fan of your company and its values, then you are more likely to get a positive response.”

Pick your channel

Picking the right channel in which to invest your time doesn’t mean that you should make assumptions based on generational stereotypes. For example, don’t assume that the best way to reach millennials is through Snapchat and Instagram, and that LinkedIn is the right place to target Gen X.

Collier advises: “Don’t stick to just the mainstream social media channels. Talk to your accountants and find out what their preferred social network is, ask your developers where they go to have discussions and look for jobs. If you don’t know, Google “HR manager jobs in London”, for example, and see which website comes out top of the results.”

More than just placing an advert

You’ve made your company and your personal profile look interesting, and you may have even placed an advert or contacted some passive candidates, but the work doesn’t stop there.

Bishop explains:

“Where would you like your candidates to go to once you’ve built up a relationship with them? Social recruiting is a much bigger job than just posting some pictures on Facebook. If your company hasn’t got a career site and doesn’t know how to convert a candidate into an applicant, then you’ll end up losing them very quickly.”

Social recruiting also doesn’t end when you’ve hired a new employee. If you onboard employees in the right way then they might share this experience on social media, which will boost the image of your brand.

LeBlanc-Domain says:

“When we onboard new employees at The Predictive Index, we make sure to go the extra mile and welcome them to the PI family by setting them up with state-of-the-art technology, an open and friendly office space, and plenty of PI goods. And we continue to take care of people well beyond onboarding.”

She adds: “Employees are your best brand ambassadors. They share these well-deserved perks on social media and in conversations with friends, family, and former colleagues—and as a result, referrals pour in. The success literally speaks for itself.”

Tools to succeed

While social media is incredibly useful in terms of transforming your recruitment process, that doesn’t mean it should be used in isolation.

“We advise our clients to use social media to complement other, often more ‘traditional’ recruiting channels,” says Gunes. “This could include online job sites, recruitment agencies, phoning clients, and the careers section on your website, as well as an ATS, video recruiting and mobile job apps.”

In order to utilize social recruiting successfully, companies need to optimize their applications for mobile devices. Gunes says:

“People mostly access social media on their phones. It’s extremely frustrating if a candidate comes across a great job opportunity with a company they admire but they aren’t able to apply for it because the organization in general doesn’t provide a mobile-friendly experience.”

There are a number of tools that you can use that can make the process of social media recruitment much easier.

Collier recommends tools such as

  • Connectifier to help access social data on candidates
  • Discover.ly Chrome extension to help surface more social information as you browse
  • Hello Talent to discover passive candidates who may be right for your job.

“The idea is to use these tools to find more information about potential employees to use in conversation, not just an email address to send them a generic email,” says Collier.

LeBlanc-Domain also advises integrating your CRM and ATS with your social tools.

She says: “What’s more important is equipping your employees, your strongest employer brand ambassadors, with tools to share their own experiences. Giving your employees access to a platform to create a community of social sharing is a huge advantage. It engages people internally, and that engagement spreads across social media and extends into other networking platforms.”

Social recruiting next steps

If you’ve ready to use social recruiting in your business, then GetApp can help you choose the tools you need to get starter: