In the age of Millennials and Generation X, social networking has become a critical recruiting tool. According to a recent Dice survey, 92 percent of tech recruiters are currently using social media to support their recruiting efforts. Given the pace at which younger workers turn to their mobile devices for information and communication, that’s not surprising.
Despite these survey numbers, we still hear from recruiters who are wary of social media. Often, their reason is simple: They’re already busy, and harnessing social would require them to put in time they don’t have.
But there’s no way around the fact that social networking requires care and feeding if it’s going to be effective. The key, recruiters say, is to integrate your social media work into your existing routine.
“It’s got to be a part of what you do on a regular basis,” said Brian Murray, director of Talent and Culture at the digital marketing agency Likeable Media in New York. “You have to put in the time, just like with everything else, and the key to that is to build it into your routine and schedule.”
More Reach, Less Effort
Social is attractive because it helps recruiters accomplish many of their fundamental tasks in ways that are exceptionally cost-effective, in terms of time and labor. For example, whereas in years past you had to work the phones and attend industry conferences to build your Rolodex, today you can exploit tech-centric sites such as Dice, Stack Overflow or GitHub to identify contacts.
The first step toward integrating social into your workflow isn’t about technology or mastering the craft of the perfect tweet. It’s about the basics of good recruiting: Knowing who you’re looking for, where to find them, and what you’ve got to offer them.
For example, said Recruiting Toolbox’s John Vlastelica in his ebook The Definitive Guide to Engaging Top Tech Candidates, invest time upfront with the hiring manager to make sure you’re in sync about what the perfect candidate looks like.
Before you begin sourcing, look at sample resumes or profiles available on Dice, your ATS or from previous searches. That way you can align your priorities in terms of technical skills, experience and other characteristics the successful candidate will need. That, in turn, will help you identify the right places to look for candidates: The companies where the ideal passives may be hidden, as well as the social sites where you’re most likely to connect with them.
Time, Tools and Efficiency
Next comes organization. Many recruiters suggest setting aside blocks of time when you can concentrate on all things related to social. Because of the myriad tools available—more on those in a minute—dedicating time will let you set up a number of actions in advance and then move onto other recruiting tasks, without having to constantly interrupt yourself to tweet this or Facebook that.
Of course, you want to use those blocks of time efficiently, and here’s where tools become important. Using Dice Open Web, for example, you can access candidate information from more than 130 social and professional networks at one swoop, building complete profiles without having to search each network individually.
Meanwhile, products like HootSuite allow you to target and schedule posts so you can create, say, a week’s worth of messages all at once. They’ll also help you keep track of conversation threads and provide analytics so you can see how many people are forwarding your messages to their own networks.
Finally, make sure you give yourself the time to be responsive and personal. Social media provides the opportunity to have real conversations, but you have to treat them as such. When you identify interesting candidates, follow them, share their posts, comment on them to kick off conversations, compliment their work, and share items that match their interests, advises Kara Yarnot, founder and president at Meritage Talent Solutions in Sterling, Va.
Ultimately, you want to move the conversation offline, Yarnot noted. To do that, you have to build your online relationships to the point where candidates see that you’re focusing on them individually, are paying attention to their needs and interests, and care about their success.
“The goals of social are in sync with the goals of recruiting overall,” observed Murray. “It’s about talking to and engaging with people, but doing it at scale.”