Recruiters Must Don Marketing Hats to Attract Best Talent

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Experts say companies that aren’t using social media marketing techniques to find passive talent are behind the curve.

When it comes to attracting talent through social media, thinking like a marketer can be beneficial - especially when it comes to recruiting those who are the best at what they do, and who are happily doing it in their current jobs.

Although a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), released in April 2013, revealed that 77 percent of organizations use social networking sites to recruit passive candidates, “the mind-set of the recruiter hasn’t changed since the early 1970s,” said SHRM member Geoff Webb, senior strategic sourcer for Aeon Hewitt in Toronto.

Back then, recruiters placed classified ads and received resumes via fax.

“We went from that to job boards and then made the leap from job boards to social networking,” Webb said, adding that many companies now simply tweet, post or pin their jobs. “But social networking is not about broadcasting jobs; it’s about interaction,” he pointed out. “People don’t go to Facebook to apply for jobs. However, if they have the opportunity to interact with a company—and it’s in a positive way—then that’s going to make them want to apply for any potential position.” Unfortunately, he added, many “recruiters are ill-suited to understand how social media works.”

What’s a Recruiter to Do?

Think like a marketer, said Jobvite Chief Marketing Officer Kimberley Kasper.

“If you’re a marketing person, you think about driving new business into the company,” Kasper said. “To do that, you bring in leads that turn into contacts. If you’re a recruiter, you’re doing the exact same process, [only you’re building] a talent pool and nurturing them, so when they’re ready to make a change, you’re the company they think of.”

Like Attracts Like

One of the easiest ways to do that is through word of mouth.

“The best referrals tend to come from your best employees,” Kasper said. “Social media has opened the door to thousands of candidates, and it is important recruiters use those networks to find and pursue the best talent. You want to get out on all the social networks, share your open roles, promote your employer brand and talk about your culture.”

That’s what Demand Media does.

“We have our employees send out notices to their social network, who, in turn, then get feedback from their network,” said Demand Media Manager of Technical Recruiting Darius Minaee. “That information then gets back to us … that saves us time, a lot of money, and helps our brand and our culture because that’s someone who is familiar with the employee.”

Those referrals drive authenticity, which helps candidates.

“Authenticity means sharing information that I need as a candidate to make a better decision,” stated Gerry Crispin, SPHR, chief navigator of CareerXroads, in A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites (SHRM, 2013).

“Social is moving us into a two-way world of communication, and when a candidate says they are interested in salary, a manager’s style of leadership, what happened to the last incumbent in this position, etc., recruiters need to be empowered to answer in a way that is truthful and believable … because the candidate can get the answers elsewhere in a heartbeat,” Crispin continued.

Those answers can be found on Google or on sites such as Glassdoor, where employees—past and present—offer their opinions (good and bad) about companies.

“If your employees are smashing you on Glassdoor, you have to address that—and you have to encourage your employees to … post good reviews,” Webb said, adding, “You have to address the issues they’re speaking about.” After all, “you can’t go on Glassdoor and say, ‘This was a disgruntled employee’—how many times can you say that?”

Reveal Corporate Culture

Starbucks, Yelp and Zappos are Jobvite customers, Kasper said, and each uses social media to find talent. For example, 60,000 people follow the @starbucksjobs Twitter account. There, she said, the company shares its successes, “tips and tricks for finding roles,” career-fair information and “what life is like at the shops all over the world.” Kasper noted that “it’s a great way to get your story out, and we’re seeing more and more of our customers taking this approach.” Companies can use their Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ pages, as well as Viddy, Vine and Instagram, to present the same content in different ways.

“We’ve seen infographics,” pictures and videos of employees that open a window into the company’s culture, she said. “If there are new technologies, you should test them and see what kinds of things [candidates] will respond to. GenY is heavily into Instagram and Vine—I would definitely test those to see if the content you’re putting out helps you to hire.”

Use Targeted Ads

“Marketers understand the level of interaction required to get somebody interested in your brand as an employer,” Webb said. “Marketers bring tools and tricks that are really cool into the space,” such as re-targeting ads. “Let’s say you apply for a job on Workopolis or at another site, and you see an ad there [for another position],” Webb said. “You may then see that same ad in different social venues because it’s reading the cookies on your computer and targeting ads at you—for a position you may not be interested in at all, but subconsciously, since you’ve now seen it in 15 places, now you’re thinking, ‘Maybe I should apply ’cause Facebook told me I should.’ These are the kinds of tricks that the marketers use.”

It becomes a relationship game only after recruiters have job seekers’ attention. Nurturing those relationships, experts said, requires intense management and attention to detail.

Building a campaign helps.

“You can send out predeveloped e-mails to candidates with messages to help keep them engaged,” Kasper advised. “From an ad-targeting perspective, there are a lot of opportunities to leverage technology. Marketers are always testing new and different audiences, so as a recruiter, you should be doing that testing, as well.”

Build Your Brand

With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that unemployment rates are hovering around 7.6 percent, it’s a competitive job market.

Companies are slugging it out for the most talented workers, and in order to attract them organizations need to woo them with an attractive brand, work environment and culture.

“Twitter is also a customer of ours, and they do a good job” of attracting talent, Kasper said. “They use social media to convey their culture and what it’s like to work there. Square is another customer. They do some really cool things; there’s videos and testimonials from employees; you can take a virtual tour of the office—they’re definitely trying to get across their company culture.”

Aliah D. Wright is an online manager/editor for SHRM and author of A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites (SHRM, 2013).  To read the original article on, please click here.