With 20/20 hindsight, the past is always rosy. Take recruitment. In the good old days, all it took to source great talent was to place a job ad in a newspaper or an online job board. Then you could sit back and watch the CVs flow in.
That’s simplifying matters, of course, but the simple notion of connecting candidates to employers was relatively straightforward. In 2014, the game has changed – candidates rather than employers hold the balance of power. Australia’s unemployment rate has hovered around 6 per cent for the last five years, meaning the best talent is already employed and unlikely to be searching for something new.
It’s the era of the passive candidate. Passive candidates are those who are not actively looking for a job, but who would – for the right opportunity for their career trajectory – field serious offers.
Enter social recruitment
To tap into this market, employers must become smarter in their sourcing methods. Fortunately, as with so many other business functions, social media has revolutionised recruitment.
“Social media and passive candidates are made for each other,” says Kim Seeling Smith, employee-engagement consultant and trainer at Ignite Global. “Companies can use social media to get to know who is good in the market. If they are actively participating in conversations, either in LinkedIn Groups or on Twitter, companies can get a real feel for not only the potential candidate’s expertise and thought process, but also their personality.”
Companies can then approach the prospective candidate more gently, allowing the candidate to warm up to the opportunity before they make a hard push.
Maximising the power of social
Using social media as an umbrella term is easy, but also dangerous. There are now countless social platforms and tools – some of which are used for professional purposes and others for social purposes, and some for a bit of both.
In order to take advantage of the tremendous power of these platforms, employers must move beyond simply posting a job and feeling good that they have joined the social media revolution, according to Seeling Smith.
“In order to really tap into their power, you must engage with your audience of prospective candidates. To do that, you must develop and participate in conversations. LinkedIn is still the go-to platform for business-related discussions, but Facebook has made some great strides in this area, as has Twitter. This involves another level of effort and sophistication though, because you not only have to interact – you have to listen and monitor the discussions.”
While there are countless social media channels, the ‘big three’ remain LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Here is Seeling Smith’s guide to effectively using these platforms.
- LinkedIn: Post white-collar jobs and have a robust, content-rich page for your company that is updated frequently. Participate in groups, proactively run searches for target candidates and develop relationships over time with the best talent. You can then approach them when your needs intersect with their desire for the next opportunity in their career.
- Facebook: Post blue-collar jobs and develop a content-rich page. Boost posts – it’s hard to develop followers without some targeted advertising – and encourage engagement by running contests.
- Twitter: Post interesting discussion topics, but also search for hashtags that are relevant to discussions that targeted candidates might be having. Listen in on their discussions, participate and develop a relationship over time.
A multi-pronged strategy
Employers should not discard the traditional forms of recruitment such as personal networks and professional recruiters. Instead, they should develop a multi-pronged strategy.
Seeling Smith recommends that business leaders try the following tips:
- Always start with existing top talent – good people know good people. Offer a referral bonus. The size is irrelevant; the strategy, communication and celebration initiatives will make or break a great referral program.
- Track alumni, keep in touch with them and make sure the ones who you would gladly take back know you’d have them back.
- Place compelling job ads to position the brand in the most effective light. Mirror those ads on the company website, LinkedIn and Facebook fan pages. Advertise open roles on Twitter.
- Use social media platforms to deepen brand awareness by posting value-add content. Use the value-add content to attract the best of the best, develop discussions around this content and build relationships with those who participate in the discussions.
- Use LinkedIn to search for candidates with specific criteria, and use it to map the market.
- Use only those recruiters who can truly add value and bring people to the table you cannot source yourself. Use a system to vet the recruiters, pay top dollar for top service and make sure they earn their fee.
- Consider using job fairs – live or virtual – for lower-level and blue-collar roles.
- Network, network, network.
“One size no longer fits all,” says Seeling Smith. “In order to make sure you consistently have a pipeline of top talent, you must have your fingers in all of these pies.”