Human resources officer choose employee standing out of the crowd.

The days of posting an ad in the local paper’s classified section to find potential employees are quickly becoming ancient history. As the landscape in HR and recruitment shudders and shifts, even sites like Craigslist, Monster and CareerBuilder are starting to lose potency. Many employers already use social media in their recruitment efforts to a significant degree of success, but talking to the pros never hurts. To that end, we picked the brains of three renowned HR professionals and got their take on the role of social media in high-powered recruiting.

The Ultimate “About Us” Section

One of the most obvious, perhaps the best, advantage that social media offers an employer is an exposure feed that acts sort of like a living, breathing “about us” section. Robin Schooling, Managing Director/Strategist with Silver Zebras, LLC, has had more than 20 years of experience working in HR leadership and was named one of the Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts On Twitter by the Huffington Post. Schooling’s approach suggests that using social media to tell an employer’s “story” is akin to casting a net that is sized perfectly to catch the exact fish they’re looking for.

Robin SchoolingEmployers with an active presence on social media have the opportunity to tell the ‘story’ of their organization in order to attract the right job seekers to apply for opportunities. The goal here is not necessarily to increase the “volume” of applicants but rather on making sure those who apply are the candidates who will best fit; the individuals who understand not just the required skills, abilities and deliverables for a particular role but also understand the organizational culture so they can determine if it matches their personal desires. Recruiters and/or community managers should provide information about the company’s vision, values, practices, people and environment. Effective talent branding can include sharing updates from organizational leaders, highlighting employees and their activities, and providing a forum for recruiters to share insight, advice and interview tips.

In addition to netting the right fish, Schooling says that social media gives an employer a good opportunity to take a candid look at a candidate. However, employers should take information gained in this way with a grain of salt.

Information found on a candidate’s social media profiles can be a great thing; an employer may find data that supports or confirms experience, communication skills, professionalism and even creativity. On the negative side, of course, employers who search for online information may unearth things that turn them off; inappropriate content of a discriminatory or sexual nature perhaps or falsehoods and lies. Employers should approach any social media search with an understanding that everything found online is not 100% guaranteed to be ‘accurate’ and it’s quite easy to misinterpret what is found.

Recruiting Gone Viral

The unique level of spreadable exposure that social media can offer makes it an ideal platform to track down the right candidate. Jennifer Metivier, the Executive Director of the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters, has an extensive and varied background in high-tier hiring. The ASPR is a professional association of more than 1,300 in-house physician recruitment professionals, and one of the things Metivier has learned as director is creating brand awareness is an effective method to attract quality candidates. To give their efforts an extra boost, Metivier suggests that employers who are engaged in social media consider using content that has the potential to go viral.

Jennifer MetivierEmployers can utilize social media to create brand awareness so that potential employees recognize the organization and understand the services it provides as well as its culture. They can post positions on social media sites and include such things as videos and encourage people to share the postings with others that may be interested. Some organizations hope their videos go viral to get the word out.

Metivier echoes Schooling’s concern about what an employer might find on a candidate's social media profile. With this in mind, she’d offer a word of warning to potential employees.

Many positions are found by referral and word of mouth, so social media can be an asset in identifying potential jobs. Candidates should however be aware that some employers may look them up in social media platforms. They should be cautious in their postings as well as the privacy settings that they put into place.

Tapping in to People Power

Most employers know that often their greatest recruitment resource can be their existing staff. This concept is especially true in the social media realm, because each individual’s reach increases significantly. Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM Group Inc., pens a blog called HR Bartender that has been lauded as one of the top 10 Business Blogs Worth Reading by the Society for Human Resource Management and SparkHire’s Top 25 Must-Read Blogs for Employers. In her work developing training solutions that engage and retain talent in the workplace, she has found that putting existing staff into the social media mix both builds the company culture and strengthens recruitment efforts.

Sharlyn LaubySmart companies are allowing employees to become brand ambassadors for their organization. Candidates today are doing their homework before they apply to a company. They know the recruiter and hiring manager are going to say great things about the company and the job. Candidates want the inside scoop. They are finding reviews on sites like Glassdoor or Great Rated. And they are talking to current and past employees for insight.

To facilitate this approach, Lauby simply says that a company should go out of its way to encourage it- of course without losing sight of the original intention.

Organizations need to realize that employees are using these tools already. So policies that ban the use of social media are disengaging. That being said, offer training on the proper use of social media. Especially topics like managing privacy controls and social media time management. This is a win for employees because they become better and more productive users, and the better employees become at using social media, the more the company wins.

Be the Next Big Thing

Whether you’re cultivating your company’s brand, trying to get your recruitment efforts to go viral or engaging your current staff in the search for new staff, the boost that social media can add is undeniable. If you’re already using an effective portfolio of social media profiles, then you’re a step ahead right out of the gate, but there is always something new right around the corner. The truth is that these resources are developing all the time and some of the best methods may be one unseen innovation away- and it might be you that develops it! So, if you’re savvy, consider what these pros say and get some skin in the game, but think ahead as well, and be on the lookout for improvements you can make to your existing platform.

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