Hiring activity is predicted to increase for the second half of 2010, so recruiters must have their candidate pipelines primed to compete for talent. Here's why social media, such as blogs and social networking sites (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook), should be part of your recruiting strategy:
Blogging drives traffic to your site and builds brand recognition
If you have the resources, i.e. the time, energy and a bit of skill, regularly blogging about your industry or about career-related issues can generate significant brand awareness and drive traffic to your website. A blog on your domain can attract links, attention, publicity, trust and increase your site's search rankings. (Because blogs are generally updated more frequently than regular website pages, they can rank higher in searches.) Offering comments that add value to someone else's blog is another way to generate a following.
Online professional networks can increase the quality of hire
Social networks aren't just for sharing photos and updates about where you are or what you're doing at a given moment. They can also be an important tool for networking professionally. Professional networks range from industry-specific or job-specific groups on LinkedIn, to community websites for a particular industry, to corporate alumni networks. Members tend to keep their contributions on a professional level and share information or gather data related to their industry or profession. Job searches are typically a key component of these networks and job queries or posts can uncover candidates that wouldn't also appear in response to a job board post. Mining alumni networks is another tactic that yields high-quality candidates, as they are already familiar with the company and have an easily accessible performance record.
Social media enhances job postings
It is widely accepted inside the recruiting industry that online job postings are not a very effective way to find job candidates. In fact, recruiting through job board postings are often referred to as "post and pray" because it's a strategy based on hope rather than action. Of the countless training programs designed to help recruiters find the best candidates, none of them emphasize job boards as a strategy - rather, they focus on networking and direct recruiting. And since many social media tools emphasize networking it is natural to reason that combining job postings with online networking will yield better results. In fact, incorporating your Facebook fan page and LinkedIn groups into your job posting strategy can increase your chances of success. For one, they increase the number of people that see your posting. Secondly, they make the job posting an interactive discussion by allowing interested folks to comment on the post and by allowing you to immediately see who is interested in the post and all of their profile information. And for those of us who can't ignore job boards altogether, social media can help us drive more qualified candidates to our job posts.
Social media allows you to customize messages to your audience
In the same way you may be using different email campaigns to target different distribution lists, you could establish multiple brand personalities on Twitter. One Twitter account could be the official company brand, one could be a "Jobs@OurCompany" Twitter account that only tweets about job openings (or related info) and one could be a "personal" Twitter account for senior leadership that reflects the personal musings and lends personality to your social media efforts. This practice allows followers to select the "channel" or voice they're most interested in. The end result is more qualified and higher quality followers who are more likely to engage and respond.
Social media can help you identify and engage with passive candidates
Passive candidates are candidates who aren't openly seeking and applying for jobs. Although they may not respond to a job board post, they could be active online as part of a social network, blog community or Twitter list. Connecting with them or with groups of their peers allows you to build a relationship so that when they are ready to seek a new job (and make the transition from passive candidate to active candidate) you will already be engaged with them.
Aaron Green is founder and president of Boston-based Professional Staffing Group and PSG Global Solutions. He is also the vice chairman of the American Staffing Association. He can be reached at Aaron.Green@psgstaffing.com or (617) 250-1000.
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Featuring human resources advice and columns from The Boston Globe's On Staffing and Hire Authority writers.