Using Social Media to Recruit Top Talent

Posted in : HR Updates on 1 November 2016
Craig Thompson
Vibrant Talent Development
Issues covered:

This video is about using social media to recruit top talent. What we'll be looking at and talking about within will be: first of all, why we should even use social media and what sites we should use, how we can stand out on social media against our competitors and, finally, tips for those struggling to get a reaction with job posts.

Why should we use social media for recruitment?

It's funny, we know recruitment is one of the most critical and crucial functions of a business, but we struggle with it. So many people struggle with it.

If we consider recruitment nowadays against recruitment, say, 15 years ago, it should actually be the easiest job in the world now. We have access to so many more tools and resources through the expansion of the Internet that people didn't have 15 years ago, so we can access a massive pool of potential candidates. It's something that we really should be doing. 

One main reason, a really key reason to use social media for recruitment: it's free. Obviously, depending on the scale of your recruitment and your needs, you may look at premium profiles on the likes of LinkedIn. But anybody can set up a company page on the likes of LinkedIn, Facebook, or create a profile on Twitter, and there's no cost associated with it.

Most people are on social media in some form, whether it's Twitter, whether it's Facebook, whether it's LinkedIn. Whether they access their accounts every day, or every week, or just check it now and again, most people are on there and they can be tagged on job listings that you might post on there. So, again, there's a huge audience on there. We should really be on there.

The other thing about social media is, within the job market we have active job seekers and we have passive job seekers. Now, the ratio changes industry to industry, but it's said that active job seekers make up, probably, about 25% of the job market. Passive job seekers, then, would make up the other 75%.

Active job seekers, it's fine. They're already actively looking for work on a daily basis. They're checking job boards. They're checking, potentially, your company page. They're actively looking for work. But social media is great for tapping into the passive job seekers. That's 75% of the market. It's said that about 60% of passive job seekers will still entertain the right offer, or if they see something that's of interest to them they will, potentially, apply.

So, if we build a strong talent brand on social media, we share news articles about our company and the type of work that we're doing, we showcase the career experience that people have in our companies. Then, if we put a job listing on social media, maybe somebody who isn't even looking for work might come across that. It might appear in their newsfeed or they might see that someone else has liked or commented on a post.

So, social media is a great way to actually appear in front of those passive job seekers who, otherwise, might not have seen that we were hiring, might not have been interested in applying. It gives us an opportunity, as well, to build relationships with people, whether they're looking for a job right now or not. It gives us an opportunity to open a dialogue with people.

And the final thing about social media is it's an extra string to your bow. It's not a replacement for what you're doing currently to recruit but it's another way in which you can attract quality candidates, so why would we not do it?

Which social media sites should we use for recruitment?

Obviously, the common ones are LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. There are other specialist sites that exist. For instance, technical profiles, IT roles or even senior management positions. But on a basic level, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are where we should be trying to build our talent brand.

Facebook and Twitter are really useful for generic roles and mass recruitment. LinkedIn, people tend to go there when they're trying to develop their own career and they're looking for things like team leader roles or more experienced roles, more senior roles within companies. So, yeah, you need to understand and think about the different audience that you're going to have between LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook, and tailor your approach accordingly.

Building a talent brand

So, how do we get attention then? Obviously, we're trying to build a talent brand on social media, but our competitors are doing the same thing. The first thing is you need to put in the groundwork. It does take time and you don't always get instant results but, if we build a talent brand, we build a following.

People may not apply for the job right now, today, but maybe 6 months down the line or 12 months down the line, when they're more ready to look for a new job, our offering might appeal to them. Social media can serve as a window and give people an opportunity to see what it's really like to work in our company.

We used to refer to our employer brand. The motto employer brand was our message for the career experience people would have in our company. So, 15, 20 years ago, if we put a job advert in a newspaper, somebody might read that job advert and it might say we were 'a fantastic employer', and unless they knew somebody, a friend, a family member who had worked with us, the message went unchallenged.

Nowadays, what we have is our talent brand, and our talent brand consists of our message, what we say it's like to work for our company, what our people say it's like to work for our company, and that's our people past and present, which we need to consider as well. Also, what everyone else says and hears that it's like to work for our company. So it's a lot more difficult to get your message out there, unchallenged.

An interesting LinkedIn survey actually found, as well, that companies with a strong talent brand index saved 43% on cost per hire.

So, how do we build a talent brand? The first thing is most companies will have values and, usually, those values are designed to attract customers. But very few companies have people values. What is it that you want to be and what is it that you want to offer to people who make sacrifices and work for you? We need to define what we want to be, to our people.

The next thing that we need to do is we need to implement those people values. There's no point in having values painted up on the wall or in employee handbooks if we don't actually live those values. What will happen is, if we say, 'We've got a really close-knit team, our company is a fun place to work,' but it's not really like that, then when we post jobs, people who used to work for us know the true story. They will usually comment and you'll be found out, basically. So we need to create those people values. We also need to implement them and we need to live those people values. We need to be authentic.

Once we have created and embedded those policies within our company, the next thing that we need to do is actually share that story. The best way to do that is through pictures, through videos, through news articles and through real interviews with people who work for our company.

There's no point in staging those interviews or telling people what to say though, because, again, it has to be authentic or you'll get found out. Try and show the real reality of what it's like to work for our company.

Another thing that we can do is engage our audience. So when people ask questions on our posts or when they make comments, actually take the time to build a connection with those people because, you never know when they might be interested in either buying from your company, or applying for a job with your company.

And the last thing, and this is as important as any other part, is to harness the power of your 'Why?' Why does the work that your company does matter? Why does this job matter within your company?

How to post a great job advertisement on social media

People make a sacrifice and they give up about 100,000 hours of their lives for their careers. They want to know that, for that sacrifice, it was worthwhile, it meant something. A hundred thousand hours is a massive chunk of our lives. People want to do work that matters. So, can you share that in your job posts?

And on those job posts, then, one of the biggest failings that I see with recruiters who post jobs on social media is they post a link to the job advert, and it's not inspiring, and it doesn't give people a reason to want to click that link. So, maybe a recruiter, they post a customer service role time and again, and they never get much of a reaction to it and they wonder why?

Well, have you given someone a reason to click that link? So, the first thing that you can do is listen to your people, solicit feedback from your people. What are the great reasons that exist for working in your company? Why do people take a job in your company and why do they stay? Use that feedback, then, to appeal to prospective candidates.

Another thing we can do is stop using generic terms. Every job advert that does have an entry line into the actual job post itself will say about, 'Interesting projects, unique work, dynamic teams.' What does any of that actually mean? It's generic and it's thrown around in every job posting.

What is real that you can share and what's interesting that you can share about your company? Have you won awards for being a great place to work? Your staff retention level is really good? Is staff engagement brilliant within your company?

That's what people want to know about. They want to know about the circumstances that you can offer: the rewards, the perks, the bonuses, the potential to work towards promotions or career growth, training, advancement opportunities. They don't want to know about 'a dynamic team' that they can come and work for because every recruiter is going to say that. So, again, there is a purpose for this role and people want to know why the work that they do matters. Communicate that in the job posting.

Another thing is you need to think about the circumstances that you're offering to potential candidates. We always think that by offering, in an employer-driven market where there are very few jobs and lots of job candidates, we always think that we can get away with reducing salaries or offering less bonuses and perks, etc. But it's a short-sighted approach because what happens is, we will be able to fill the position, people will take the job, but they'll still be looking for work elsewhere.

They'll still be part of that active candidate bracket, they'll be looking for jobs on a daily basis elsewhere. So, will they stay? And, within the company, will they work hard? Will they engage? Think about the circumstances that you can offer people.

And the last thing that we need to do is acknowledge and adapt that shift in power, as well, between candidate-driven market and employer-driven market. So we may have come from a position where there were loads of candidates and very few jobs, but now we're in a position where there are a lot more jobs and a lot more opportunities for people.

So we can't expect people to jump through hoops. A recruiter needs to become more of a salesperson now, and think about how they can pitch to potential job seekers, how they can entice them to want to come for an interview in the company.

The job application process

One last thing on that topic is, we need to think about application processes as well, and the experience that people have when they apply for jobs with us. People want to be able to either click on a link and submit their CV quickly, instantly, or if they visit our career page on our website, they want it to be something that works quickly and smoothly on a mobile or on a tablet. They don't want to have to sit and complete a job application form that lasts for an hour.

Now, in an employer-driven market, where there were very few jobs and loads of candidates, we can ask people to sit and spend an hour, two hours, three hours completing an application form, but people won't do that in a candidate-driven market because they've got too many options.

There is a reason for asking people to complete an application form and, a lot of the time, that is we need more information than people typically put on a CV. But there's an in-between. We can ask for a CV with a couple of supplementary questions, as opposed to, 'Re-write out your educational background, your career history, your references, your address, etc.'

That all takes time, and people don't want to have to make that sacrifice and give that time up, unless they really need a job. So, if you want to appeal to passive candidates, you need to have an easy application process.

So, that's it for this video. Thank you for watching. Just to recap on what we've discussed, we've talked about: why we should use social media in the first place, what sites we can use, how to attract attention when our competitors are also doing the same thing, what a talent brand is and how to build a talent brand, and finally, then, getting a reaction to job posts.

Within the remainder of this series of videos, next up we'll be looking at: measuring recruitment success, we'll be looking at transitioning into leadership for first-time leaders, understanding the power of coaching and then finally, horrible bosses and what to do about them. 

This article is correct at 01/11/2016

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Craig Thompson
Vibrant Talent Development

The main content of this article was provided by Craig Thompson. Contact telephone number is +44 (0)7982 7282 10 or email

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