Do social media make an effective recruitment tool for SMEs?

According to research the total cost of the UK skills shortage is £6.3 billion a year and SMEs, which make up a large portion of businesses in the UK, shoulder the majority of the cost*.

Around 69 per cent of SMEs think that large employers monopolise the best talent and that they are unable to compete by raising salaries or spending significantly on recruitment strategies. Despite more than 83 per cent of businesses naming talent acquisition as the number one priority in their organisation last year, a staggering 91 per cent of organisations in the UK have had difficulties hiring employees over the past 12 months**.

Lack of skills in the UK labour market has made it difficult for businesses to find talented workers to fill roles. This is particularly prevalent in the STEM sector, where 97 per cent of employers face difficulties finding the right hires, the financial industry, where 96 per cent struggle, and in real estate, where 83 per cent of employers have been unable to find talent to fill vacant roles

Over the last 12 months in the UK: 64 per cent of employers have spent more on recruitment than ever before; 63 per cent have recruited at a lower level than intended; 56 per cent have increased the salary on offer to recruit a skilled person; After employee referrals (48 per cent) and job boards (46 per cent), a LinkedIn survey listed social media as third on a list of priorities for HR Professionals looking to improve their recruitment strategies, with 40 per cent saying they would use professional social networks.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 84 per cent of organisations are now using social media for recruiting, compared to 56 per cent in 2011. Here’s why: 92 per cent of the UK population has access to the internet; 81 per cent of the population has access to a mobile phone; 85per cent access the internet at least once a day; 48per cent of the UK population have active social media accounts

In addition, 79 per cent of job seekers are likely to use social media for their search, and the number increases to 86 per cent for younger job seekers. According to HR professionals, the top reason for using social media as a recruitment tool is to reach out to potential and sometimes passive candidates who may not necessarily be actively looking for a new job. Of course, certain social platforms have been proven to be the most successful and productive.

Of the employers using social media for recruitment, 96 per cent used LinkedIn, while 66 per cent and 53 per cent used Facebook and Twitter respectively. Social media recruitment has become so effective that 66 per cent of organisations have optimised their recruiting tools for smartphones, such as career websites (39 per cent), job postings and applications (36 per cent each).

How to Use Social Media as a Recruitment Tool

While screening potential candidates online can be easy, remember that these same candidates are checking up on your company as well. A prospective employee may be put off by seeing poorly controlled comment threads, websites or social media feeds. Here are some ways to improve your recruitment strategy using social media:

Encourage employees to share company achievements

Encourage employees to become company advocates by sharing interesting, valuable and impressive information about the business, including successes and thought leadership content.

Build your brand as a great place to work

While you may use your social media profiles to market products, services or industry developments, you may also consider including some posts about life at the office and employee profiles to give your company an identity that potential candidates can relate to.

Understand the millennial view on employment

The first step to social media recruitment is understanding how millennials, today’s largest workforce, think about employment. Previous generations had different views on work, which included long-term commitment and a secure retirement package. Job satisfaction and fulfilment was just an added perk. Millennials are always looking for the next best thing, so promoting an environment of excitement and flexibility will bode well for your organisation.

The Evolution of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the platform of choice for recruiters and candidates. With 530 million members as of 2017, LinkedIn is now more than just a networking site – it is a major content platform with over 100,000 new articles published every week. This means that LinkedIn will continue to be a fierce competitor, not just for recruitment, but as a professional network as well.

Instagram Stories the Next Big Thing

The rise of Instagram has been one of the most significant opportunities for social recruiting, changing the game even more with the launch of Instagram Stories. According to statistics, Instagram Stories receive 35 per cent more views for brands compared to Snapchat Stories, while the rise of Instagram Stories has led to a decrease in regular post engagement. This means companies using the platform for employer branding and recruiting needs to implement Instagram Stories into their strategy or risk losing out on followers, engagement and potential new hires.

Social media has improved the way employers and recruitment agencies search and find new talent. If you are not yet embracing the power of social media for your recruitment efforts, you could risk being left behind.

*by The Open University Business

**John Williams, Head of Marketing & Research at Instant Offices, provides insightful ways on how SMEs can use social media as an effective recruitment tool.

Interested in recruiting young talent?  We recommend the Early Talent Forum 2019 and Recruitment and Retention Conference 2019.





Aphrodite is a creative writer and editor specialising in publishing and communications. She is passionate about undertaking projects in diverse sectors. She has written and edited copy for media as varied as social enterprise, art, fashion and education. She is at her most happy owning a project from its very conception, focusing on the client and project research in the first instance, and working closely with CEOs and Directors throughout the consultation process. Much of her work has focused on rebranding; messaging and tone of voice is one of her expertise, as is a distinctively unique writing style in my most of her creative projects. Her work is always driven by the versatility of language to galvanise image and to change perception, as it is by inspiring and being inspired by the wondrous diversity of people with whom paths she crosses cross!

Aphrodite has had a variety of high profile industry clients as a freelancer, and previously worked for a number of years as an Editor and Journalist for

Aphrodite is also a professional painter.