Social recruitment - Are you ready to embrace the change?

Do you remember the days when you would search through the job section of the newspaper? Are these days gone? Are online job posts on advertising career websites still effective in attracting the right talent? Should HR professionals be educating themselves on the new buzz words - social recruiting?
One thing that's for certain is that recruiting must change as job seekers change, believes Rowena Lalla, HR manager NATIVE. "The methods that worked with the Baby Boomers and Generation X, may not be the methods that work with the Millenial Generation," she says.

Social recruiting refers to the use of social media as a tool to attract potential candidates with the most effective social media platforms currently being used including Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

So what exactly is so unique about social recruitment? Lalla says social recruitment is not just about advertising vacancies, it's about building relationships and engaging followers. "It allows for open dialogue between the company and its followers. Comparable to a marriage, it allows for a courtship between the company and its followers prior to making a commitment," she explains.

However, before rushing headlong into the social recruitment world, Lalla advises HR managers and recruiters to first understand their target audience. "You first need to determine whether the candidates you are looking for are people who you would find online. After that you need to determine which recruitment media currently gives you the most candidates. Lastly, as with traditional recruitment methods, structure your advertisements and approach to attract the desired candidates," she says.

Lalla points out that the benefits of social recruiting are clear. "Social platforms are free and can therefore save companies on recruitment spend. Along with that, this form of recruiting means you attract candidates that are technologically savvy," she says. Social recruitment also provides companies with opportunities to engage with existing followers and connect with future followers and expand their talent network.

"Generally the candidate's organisational fit is better due to the exposure to the culture of the company through previous engagement on social networks. Candidates who engage in social media are also more likely to pass the information on through their social networks thereby increasing the presence of your brand," she says, "Social recruitment also gives companies the opportunity to listen to what people are saying about their brand and responds in real time. Your employees become brand ambassadors and recruiters in their own right!"

During 2011, a social recruiting survey was conducted by Jobvite - a company that assists companies with recruitment by using social media - with approximately 800 participants in the United States. It was found that 86.6% of participants surveyed use Linkedin, 55,3% use Facebook and 46.6% use Twitter.

"Linkedin is currently the largest professional network in the world. As companies you can establish a free Linkedin page and post updates and interact with candidates. Linkedin targets passive candidates who are not necessarily looking for alternative employment," says Lalla.

Facebook is more of a social network rather than a professional network. "It is not the ideal platform to encourage interaction as many users are friends with their employers and colleagues and are likely to feel uncomfortable Liking a competitors' career page. It's better to encourage the person to Like the company page rather than the careers page and engage with potential candidates in this way," she advises. From Lalla's experience, Twitter seems to be an effective tool to advertise vacancies. "It has the power to reach a number of people in a short period of time. Followers are able to retweet the vacancies to followers."

As with all digital responsibilities, Social recruiting should not just be left in the hands of the one department such as HR. Lalla says it is important that management also actively engages on social media platforms with candidates in their fields of expertise. "This should be done on an ongoing basis. It is also crucial to align the recruitment strategy with the overall marketing strategy of the business," she says.

While there are undoubtedly many positives to using social media as a recruitment tool, it does bring with it the risk of exposing employees, who are linked to your company profiles especially on Linkedin, to be headhunted. "Companies need to be aware of this risk and manage it accordingly," she says.

So what does the future hold for recruitment? "Without a doubt, more candidates will use their social media profiles to apply for jobs as opposed to sending in CVs. In South Africa, more and more candidates seem to be using smart phones and tablets to access the internet and will therefore be using their mobile devices to interact on social media platforms. This will increase the number of people using social media to look for jobs. My advice for recruiters is to embrace this transition one step at a time. Start on one platform and learn what you can about it. Start exploring and engaging with people in this space. Rather than forcing adverts on potential recruits, post interesting updates on their industry or areas of expertise. Once you have developed interest in the brand, followers are more likely to apply for positions in your company. There is also a budding trend towards using video and images to start conversation. Videos can be used very effectively to build a brand, give insight into your company culture and entice people to apply for a position in your company. The possibilities are exciting but remember to start one step at a time and effectively manage your brand in the social space," she concludes.

16 May 2012 10:51