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There is much written on this subject, and while social media has the ability to bring great value to the recruitment process it is no silver bullet!
Here are a few assumptions/myths/thoughts on the subject.
1. Social media is a means for people to connect, engage and share ... you are successful when you give to the "community". Like most relationships, if you are always taking then it is pretty clear that you are not going to have much success.
What does this mean in the world of recruiting?
i. If all you do is post jobs, then pretty soon you will be ignored by those people you are trying to reach.
ii. If you bring value to people, through interesting articles, thought leadership pieces etc. ... and sprinkle in some very targeted job posts you are more likely to have success
2. There is an opinion that LinkedIn is "The Answer" for recruiters.
LinkedIn is a social media for networking. It has many and varied uses, one of which is to connect with people of interest to you. While almost anyone is susceptible to a "great job offer" they do not want to be spammed by recruiters. So ... mass spamming your contacts with "great job ... call me" is only going to cause you to lose credibility. On the other hand if you research people on LinkedIn and find potential candidates that you approach on an individual basis you may well have success.
3. Is Twitter is a great tool for recruiters?
Same thing as LinkedIn. The people on Twitter follow people of interest to get value ... if all you bring to the table is "Great job ... call me" people will likely just ignore you. The other obvious thing with Twitter is that it is a point in time event ... if I don't happen to be looking when your tweet comes in, then I don't see it.
There are some uses where Twitter might be a useful recruiting tool, using very specific hashtags to identify the roles and opportunities and again targeting individuals who might be interested. The nature of Twitter allows you to connect with a lot of people ... that is where its real power lies, NOT in spamming all of those people with your jobs.
Both Twitter and LinkedIn can seem like good tools to get a mass message out ... the reality is that the prize will go to those willing to make an effort and target people on an individual basis. Never before have recruiters had so much information and access to individuals, don't blow it by being lazy.
3. Some people suggest that the job boards are being replaced by LinkedIn.
See points above ... not happening. The people on job boards are looking for work and willing to take your calls, answer your emails. The people on LinkedIn are the passive job seekers/contented employees ... and the mass spamming taking place by recruiters today will quickly sour them to those kinds of recruiters. If they choose to ignore all of your updates (one click) then how are you really getting to them?
Job boards continue to evolve, and while they are not perfect, they will likely continue to be a source of labour for some time to come.
4. I hear some people suggest that all these social media tools are better than the agency database.
If you don't do the basics as a recruiting organization then you run the risk of letting your database go stale. That would be a big mistake.
If you are doing your job then your database will reflect the upcoming needs of your clients. The people in it will have the right skills, be known to you and you will be aware of their availability. You will have a relationship with your candidates such that you can get referrals. You will have up to date information in addition to history ... allowing you to hone in on the best candidates and avoid those who have been problematic in the past. Of course if you ignore this critical component of your job then you will be left at the mercy of the job boards, social media and anyone else who decides to enter the game (Google?)
The applicant tracking database is purpose designed for recruiting ... social networks provide some recruiting opportunities by their nature. Don't ignore the very tool that was designed for you.
5. Is "social" the future of recruiting?
No ... social media is one more tool to help recruiters do their job.
Social will play it's role as a tool to help the recruiter. Job boards will play their role. The applicant tracking system will play its role. Mobile technology will play its part. The seasoned professional recruiter will take advantage of all the tools at hand to be successful.
What is the secret to success using social media as a recruiting tool?
1. Hard work ... it is a great tool to find people but it needs to be done carefully. It is very easy to send out tweets and post updates on LinkedIn ... it is not so easy to mine your contacts and then tailor your approach at an individual level. Use social to engage with candidates, to build relationships and to grow your network ... do not abuse your network!
2. Good recruiting skills ... this is a people business and technology is just one tool. You still need to be able to understand the client's needs correctly, identify the right candidate fit, sell opportunities, negotiate rates, manage through the offer stage and all of the other parts of this job.
3. Continuous learning ... social media is another tool (set of tools) for the recruiter, but without an investment in learning you become that person with a little bit of knowledge ... dangerous!
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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