Don't Overlook Social Recruiting Tools

 -  8/26/11

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In a business climate where the unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent, companies are undoubtedly seeing a vast influx of job applicants. With this type of response, it may seem unnecessary to invest extra time and effort into further promoting jobs via social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

However, with the end game of securing the right employees for the organization, HR leaders would be remiss to discount the power these sites have in connecting them with the types of individuals they’d want to hire. Moreover, when coupled with a system that automatically screens applicants, social networking sites can become a cost-effective method of garnering the right employees without doing a whole lot of work.

Facebook: An HR Leader’s ‘Friend’?
Announced at the SHRM conference earlier in the year, BeKnown — a professional networking Facebook app from Monster.com — is designed to enable managers to use Facebook as a key part of an organization’s recruiting strategy.

But will it be a success or failure as a talent acquisition tool?

Likely the most important aspect of this new app is the ability to create a network of professional contacts, which can be kept separate from the connections among friends and family, which make up most Facebook social networks. According to Monster.com, users will also be able to hunt for jobs and see who in their professional network is connected to a job or a job opportunity.

As a system for corporate recruiters, Monster has extended the concept of “job pages” to let anyone who “claims” a company profile to post jobs to their BeKnown network and then customize the company page to build a corporate brand. Job postings are free to list for first- or second-degree connections, but there's a fee to expand the posting to reach more job seekers.

Just look at the numbers: Facebook has more than 500 million active users worldwide, and the average user has 130 friends on the site and visits 40 times per month, spending an average of 23 minutes on each visit.

Some common reasons HR professionals cite for leveraging Facebook in their recruiting strategies include:
• The ability to recruit passive job candidates who might not otherwise apply or be contacted by the organization.
• It’s less expensive than other methods of recruiting job candidates.
• To increase employer brand and recognition.
• Can target job candidates with a very specific set of skills.
• To target a specific job level to recruit or contact, such as entry-level, managers, executives, etc.

HR leaders are acquainted with the fact that many of the best hires are employee referrals — a friend of a friend of a friend. These trusted “friend” relationships are the basic structure of social networking sites.

In addition, Facebook puts some of the power in the hands of employees, providing a format for them to share job openings with friends on a mass level. This can be especially beneficial for small to mid-sized companies that don’t have an army of employees to bring in referrals.

The “share” tool enables them to share jobs with select friends or, for wider reach, post job openings on their wall for their entire network to view.

LinkedIn: Making the Right Connections?
LinkedIn’s popularity as a professional networking tool is based on the fact that it’s a convenient way to stay connected to current colleagues, people who you’ve worked with in the past and peers who work in similar jobs or within the same industry. It creates an inventory that can be used across various jobs, personal interests and affiliations, and HR leaders have found ways to leverage the site to add candidates to their applicant pool.

Some benefits of incorporating LinkedIn in a company’s hiring strategy include:
• World standard for professional networking.
• 100-plus million profiles.
• High-quality candidates.
• Filtering capabilities for a paid account.
• Effective tool for recruiting managerial and executive positions.

However, HR leaders must be aware of some of its limitations:
• The average age of a LinkedIn user is 41, so it isn’t ideal when looking for younger or non-professional talent.
• Passive candidates usually have high salary requirements.
• Requires an investment of time to build up networks, relationships and to find job-related groups.
• Time spent on LinkedIn per user is one-fourth of the time spent on Facebook.

The key to benefiting from LinkedIn’s talent pool is not just in searching, but ensuring that job listings get in front of as many potential job seekers as possible. This means more than just posting jobs to LinkedIn’s job board – it means pushing each new job opening to one’s personal networks as well as LinkedIn groups.

Twitter: Transient Trend?
Twitter is quickly evolving into more than just a micro-blogging, social networking website. An increasing number of people are using Twitter to search for or monitor information posted by individuals beyond their own personal networks.

There are three ways an organization’s career site can work with Twitter:
1. Allow job seekers or employees to push or share jobs directly from the company’s careers page to their friends and connections via Twitter.
2. Help build a following of passive applicants.
3. Automatically tweet each of the company’s new job listings to the network and get them available to people who search for jobs on twitter using the “hashtag” #jobs.


Ryan Kohler is the CEO of JobMatch LLC, creators of iApplicants.com, which provides application tracking software to more than 1,000 employers across the United States. He can be reached at editor@talentmgt.com.