technologyCharles Hipps, CEO at WCN, shares his thoughts on the benefits of using social media when it comes to recruitment:

With more companies worldwide turning to platforms like Facebook and Twitter to carry out their social recruiting strategies, it grows ever more imperative that employers take the necessary steps to integrate their career sites with social networks and begin building an online home for their social talent pools.

Social media is transforming recruitment basically because it is the place where the next generation of talent gathers and so must be mastered when it comes to graduate recruitment. That said, companies are also using social networks to entice ‘passive’ candidates – employed professionals, who are not actively looking but are open to discussing potential opportunities. Passive candidates represent nearly half of all currently employed talent, making social media the perfect place for employers to find talent that they may not be able to find otherwise.

Social media is the future of business networking; it has an explicit way of introducing people and, with the right technique, it could be used to create connections that may prove equally beneficial to both parties, providing social mobility, as the connections are open to all on social media. Potential candidates no longer need to know someone in-house to get an interview; a quick social media search and they can directly contact the people who can hire them.

Recruiters and HR departments who are slow to adopt social media as a recruitment tool are certainly in danger of losing candidates. With one in four of us accessing the web from a mobile, and this trend increasing as you move down the age range, it is a clear ‘wake-up call’ for all organisations on the recruitment trail.

Getting it wrong

Social media is quite often the place where key mistakes are made, usually because organisations don’t understand how the channels work. For instance, you’ll see recruitment agencies posting jobs on twitter, not realising the shelf life of a tweet is incredibly short, and in essence it is a form of spamming. What most companies fail to realise is that social media is a communications tool, for striking up conversation, rather than just posting a random tweet. Facebook is a less formal method and great for targeted advertising; LinkedIn is effective for active talent search (head hunting) and industry-related social networks.

Return On Investment – ROI
Social media is free and offers a return on investment that is greater than any conventional recruitment method. For example, telephone interviewing will draw on a lot of resource, but running a similar process via social media is quick and easy as a candidate can answer questions, record an audiovisual and send it back, or upload privately.

The Benefits
Social media can make recruitment easier; 80% of social media users prefer to connect with brands and companies through Facebook. What better place to start when looking for candidates than with ‘Facebook fans’ who are already potential advocates for your brand? This is why many see Facebook as the perfect place to advertise a job and thus optimise recruitment. Also, companies are now encouraging employees to serve as unofficial talent scouts by sharing the latest job offers through their own social networks. One in seven referrals via social media can generate a potential candidate, compared to one in 100 general applicants.

The Channels
Facebook is without a doubt the most widely distributed and connected social network. The personal data that is available for targeting adverts means that job adverts can be shown to the most applicable people but not to those that may otherwise generate poor quality applications.

The Facebook ‘Like’ function helps spread information across interest-related parties. The launch of the Facebook job board has enabled organisations to post jobs to their company Facebook page and share job postings across the social platforms for maximum visibility among top potential candidates. WCN has formed a strategic partnership with Work4Labs to incorporate the innovative Facebook recruiting application ‘Work 4 Us’ into its e-Recruitment solutions. This allows companies to launch targeted Facebook ad campaigns, generate referrals and encourage leverage among employees’ friends, thereby harnessing the powerful social network seamlessly into the recruitment process.

There is a trend among some companies to create private networks, however most employers would be best advised to take advantage of established networks rather than create their own, as you need a strong brand proposition to make people want to regularly interact and engage with you.

LinkedIn is effective for active talent search and has become a reliable source for objective references. It is also the perfect place to create a bank of talent as all the candidates you interview should be invited to join your LinkedIn group. This will provide the candidate with a sense of membership and give you a database full of potential employees moving forward.

Twitter is all about engaging in conversation and using the correct hash-tags for your target audience. It is very important that jobs are not merely being repetitively tweeted out; you need to make sure you engage in twitter chats, building your community of talent, which in the long run will help you identify those who would be a good fit for your company and the open positions.

The main challenge is protecting the employer brand on social media. It can take years to build a good reputation, but seconds to damage it beyond repair. To maintain this on social media, make sure a ‘corporate social media voice’ is drawn up, so all those involved are on the same page. Plus, whoever is put in the social media field needs to have an impeccable sense of decorum, an ability to edit themselves and an aptitude for anticipating potential ‘landmines’.

Social media is revolutionising the way companies recruit. It is essential that recruiter and HR departments move with the times and shift their focus from the straightforward collection of CVs to a more interactive and personal form of recruitment. Failure to embrace social media will mean top, certainly graduate, talent will be building a business connection with your competitors, rather than you.

Best Practice – staying ahead
Companies not only need to take hold of social media, but integrate mobile into the recruitment process. If you have attracted a candidate via social media they will usually expect the recruitment process to include mobile, as well as traditional interaction.

If mobile is to be supported it should try and cover as many different devices as possible. Create simple registration forms for basic information and contact details, early in the process. Take advantage of the fact that Smartphone users carry them 24:7 and allow candidates Q&A via the mobile.

Also, let candidates ‘update’ and ‘confirm’ through the mobile device when firming up interview arrangements or provisionally accepting an offer. This will inject speed, convenience and immediacy into the process – a real advantage over the traditional recruitment process and important if you’re keen to keep the best talent interested in your business.

The more mobile optimised your recruitment process is the better placed you will be to access the best breadth of talent.

Charles Hipps – Managing Director at WCN