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Utilizing Social Media to Source Passive Candidates

April 11, 2011

Image via Nuance Marketing

Emily is a highly-skilled, hard-working Accountant. At this very moment, somewhere out there, she’s sitting behind a desk. She’s moderately happy – decent pay, decent benefits, decent work environment. The problem is that she’s outgrown her role and there’s no advancement opportunities available to her. Her job is satisfying enough, so she’s not actively looking for something else. She recognizes, however, that her skills might be better utilized in a different role.

What luck! Your company has an opening for someone with her exact skill set! She could have a great career path with your organization and become one of your star performers. The hitch in that plan is that you don’t know her name, the company she works for, or anything else about her. She’s not looking, remember?

In order to increase your applicant pool to include Emily and other candidates like her, conventional processes should be supplemented by more nontraditional methods. You have to find a way to get your company, and possibly information about your open position, in front of candidates that are otherwise not searching. Fortunately, we are living in an age of instant connections. Where Hollywood cinema has the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, the real world has the six degrees of Facebook. Everyone is connected to everyone else through a series of connections. The rise of social media has created endless opportunities for those that handle organizational recruitment and hiring.

This is especially true for Generation Y talent.  According to the Pew Research Center, 75 percent of Gen Yers have created a social networking profile. 75 percent of those with profiles visit social networking sites a minimum of once every few days. By comparison, 50 percent of Generation X and 30 percent of Boomers have profiles. For both generations, just over 60 percent visit a social networking site at least once every few days. That’s a lot of statistics to throw out, but the bottom line resonates: establishing your organization in the world of social media can give you the exposure to stand out from your competitors.

The first step is to become educated on what kind of social media is available.  Facebook is a no-brainer. They are the top dog. They are the end all, be all of social media sites.  Highly informal as it may be, Facebook has a following of over 400 million users (30 percent of those are located in the US according to Facebook), a number more than twice that of its nearest competitor. Then there’s MySpace, Twitter, and so on and so forth. Many of these sites are connected. When you post a video on YouTube, you can set it up so that an automatic feed is sent to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Think about what that means.

From a marketing and recruiting standpoint, one advertisement or one promotion that you put out there is pushed to numerous sites instantaneously. As what you’ve posted is viewed, it will be forwarded, tweeted, and linked to. In a matter of minutes, your reach could be hundreds, if not thousands of people. This is one reason why selling ad space on certain websites is such a lucrative market. It’s not just companies selling their products anymore, it’s companies selling their jobs. Careerbuilder has jumped on this bandwagon, teaming with Facebook to promote positions via banner ads.

Getting started, try a few of these quick ideas that corporations such as Starbucks have employed (and all are at little to no cost!):

  • Start a blog on your company website if you don’t already have one. Link your company profiles to it and encourage employees to link to it.
  • Strike up conversations online or tweet about your company to encourage online discussions of things that are going on at your organization and positions that are open.
  • Add social networking initiatives to your employee referral program. Sites like LinkedIn allow you to send out open positions to different groups and elicit referrals from others on the site.
  • Post advertisements or marketing pieces on YouTube or similar sites and push them out to followers and friends on other networking sites.
  • Make sure information is getting out there about how great your company is to work for. Seeing a post or a conversation about someone that loves working for you or a customer that had a great experience might prompt a candidate to look at your careers page to see what is available.
  • Make your careers page and online application process simple. The harder it is to fill out an application, the fewer the number that will follow through on completing it.

Incorporating social media into your current procedures can be a giant undertaking if you are not familiar with it. Try and streamline your processes before jumping in head first. Research different types of social networking sites to find the right fit for your organization. To get started, CIO (an IT executive analysis and news site) has compiled 8 Sites To Help You Network. Many are fantastic supplements to existing efforts on more popular sites like LinkedIn. Half of the sites listed are geared towards overall business networking: AP Sense, Marzar, Xing and Fast Pitch Networking. The other half are similar, but specifically revolve around entrepreneurs and startups: Biznik, Entrepreneur Connect, Go Big Network and Konnects.

The idea is to build a recruitment strategy based upon job advertisements and marketing as a joint front. Design your campaign to represent what appeals about your company and its employees. Setting up a social networking presence for your organization is initially time consuming, but the ROE (not equity – Starbucks uses this to mean Return on Effort) is worth it. After becoming familiar with the basics, you will be able to branch out on a larger scale, utilizing more business-oriented social networking sites and sophisticated strategies to integrate your social media knowledge with current executive-level recruiting methods.

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