Six Steps for Getting in the Social Recruiting Game

By Jenifer Lambert

How to accelerate and expand your recruiting efforts through social media

In this special report, we will explore simple ways that you can utilize social media to accelerate and expand your recruiting efforts — whether by doing it yourself or hiring a social media manager.

Social media and recruiting are a match made in heaven. First of all, recruiting is inherently social. Consider this — for every search you conduct, your end goal is to find the best candidate for the role as quickly as possible. How do you do that? By exposing this opportunity to the broadest pool of available talent — including passive job seekers.

The most effective method of getting the word out about a job opening is a multi-pronged approach that targets both active and passive candidates as well as candidates who are “known” to you (i.e. candidates already in your applicant tracking system) as well as new candidates with whom you haven’t engaged. Social media provides the opportunity to accelerate your reach into all of these target candidate pools.

The benefits of social recruiting are clear. By engaging the social web, you have the opportunity to:

  • Expand your reach
  • Cultivate relationships
  • Enlist your entire organization in your recruiting efforts
  • Engage passive candidates

The holy grail for most recruiters is attracting candidates who aren’t currently looking — the so-called passive job seeker — and engaging them one-to-one.The reality is that everyone’s keeping their eyes open. Social media allows passive candidates who would never take the time to comb through job postings to get familiar with your company and keep informed about potential job opportunities.

Read on for a six-step game plan for putting social media to work for you to accelerate your recruiting efforts.

1. Ask your job board if they have social media integration.
The forward thinking ones do. If so, get trained on those features immediately, because it’s the fastest way to get started.

Company Profile on Dice with Social Media Integration

2. Create a branded company profile.
You’ll definitely want to pursue niche social networking sites relevant to your industry and recruiting needs but to get started, make sure you’re on the “Big Two” — Facebook and Twitter.
Here are links to articles that provide instructions for setting up a Facebook fan page:

To learn more about setting up a Twitter account, visit:

  • Hubspot — Creating a Twitter account for business
  • eHow — Twitter account setup basics

There are some methods for increasing your audience that are unique to Twitter. Specifically — hashtags and retweeting.

Hashtags — Hashtags (essentially adding the # sign in front of a keyword or subject) were developed to help spread information and organize it. For example: We’re growing and adding to our #IT professional team. By putting a hashtag in front of IT, you increase the likelihood that an IT professional will be able to find your post.

“MTV Networks Jobs” Twitter Account for Recruiting
“Life at Google” Facebook Fan Page for Recruiting

There are a number of Twitter tools that allow you to identify and track hashtags so you can use tags that are already being used and followed by your key audience.

Be careful not to overuse hashtags in a post. It diminishes the readability and looks spammy. It’s also been proven that the greater the number of hashtags in a tweet, the less likely it will be retweeted. Read this article from Mashable for more information on Twitter hashtags.

Retweeting — Getting your message retweeted is one of the most effective ways to increase your Twitter following. According to research from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science, any retweeted post is likely to reach an average of 1,000 users no matter what the number of followers is of the original tweet. Those users who see the retweet may decide to follow you because they want to directly receive more of this type of content from you. It all starts with having the right content, the right keywords and the right headlines for your tweets. Talent acquisition consultant and strategist Shally Steckerl (@Shally) suggests checking Google’s Adwords (no cost) to investigate basic keyword popularity. Learn more about keywords in this article from Shally on

The other secret to building your following through retweets is to not just hope that someone retweets your posts, but to be the first to retweet. The influence principle of reciprocity says that when someone does something for us, we feel compelled to reciprocate and that sense of reciprocation is alive and well in the Twitter-verse. Find interesting people who produce content that would be interesting to your target audience and retweet their posts. Not only are you providing great content for your followers, that person is more likely to retweet your posts in the future and thereby introduce you to their followers.

3. Develop a content strategy that builds relationships.
To make social media work for you, you have to start building relationships and join the conversation. Think of social media as a digital version of a cocktail party. If you’re sitting by the wall and not engaging anyone, don’t expect to get much attention. At the same time, if all you do is toot your own horn or ask for favors, people will run away quickly. Think about the people you enjoy talking to at any function — they ask good questions, share interesting and relevant information, they offer to help and they’re funny or at least fun to be around. It’s the same for social recruiting. If all you ever post are job openings, don’t be surprised if the only response you get is from desperate job seekers. The goal is to engage potential job candidates in a conversation. It should be a two-way exchange. They should come to view you as a provider of valuable advice, useful information and maybe even entertainment.

Before you just start posting information, it’s important to establish a content strategy and put it in writing, particularly if multiple people on your team will be responsible for posting content.

Clearly the content strategy for a public accounting firm will be very different from that of a software development company. That’s the point. You need to meet your target audience where they’re already at, with content they care about, and content they’ll pass on to people in their network, thereby expanding your reach.

If you have more than one person responsible for content, you might consider dividing the task around the type of content generated vs. responding to questions direct from followers and fans.

An important part of your content strategy is not only what you will say, but what you won’t. Make it very clear what information would be considered out of bounds. A general rule of thumb is to assume anything you post will be read by your mother, your priest, your best customer and your fiercest competitor. Remember, in the world of social media, communication is instant, constant, permanent and global.

4. Make it easy to find, follow and forward your information.
So you have great content. Now you need an audience. Without friends or followers you are speaking into a black hole. Friends and followers will spread your message to their friends and followers, who will again spread your message, and expand your reach exponentially without you lifting a finger.

Here are several ways to attract a following using social media.

Email signature — Why limit your email signature to just your phone and email contact information? By adding in your social media contact information, every email you send could turn into a new follower. Consider doing the same for printed business cards.

Here’s a link to a video on building an email signature with social media info.

Website — Add buttons to your home page that link directly to your Twitter account and Facebook page.

Blog — If you have one (you do have one, don’t you?!), there are several great ways to use your blog to drive followers. First, include a link to your Twitter and Facebook pages on the homepage of your blog. You can also include links and invitations to follow you on Twitter or Facebook in your posts from time to time. You can also use your blog posts to create content. Syndicate your blog posts to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. There are a variety of ways to do this depending on which blog software or platform you use to publish your blog.

A little research will help you indentify different plug-ins or advanced features of your blog software that will enable your blog posts to automatically appear on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Buttons — Make it a “no-brainer” for people to share your blog posts or job postings via social media by putting a “share” link on that page or buttons that take them directly to social media sites.

Starbucks Careers Page with Social Media Sharing
Best Buy Job Posting with Social Media Sharing

5. Enlist all employees in your social media efforts.

Some companies have tried to suppress their employees’ use of social media. Typically they cite concerns about lost productivity and privacy issues. The simple fact is that your employees are using social media whether you want them to or not. Recent Nielsen data reports that Americans spend nearly 25% of their online time on social media or blog sites. Instead of fighting it, enlist your employees in your social recruiting initiatives. How?

Ask them to get involved — Explain to employees how their involvement in the company’s social media efforts can have a positive impact in attracting quality candidates.

Regularly inform employees — Tell them about about key openings that you would like them to share with their social networks. Include links to postings. Better yet, you can write up sample messages to make it extremely easy for employees to get the word out.

Encourage employees to “talk” — Ask them to share the positive aspects of working with your company in their social networks. Make it easy for them to share photos, company news, or other information that would be appropriate for distribution.

Involve other business units — Coordinate your social media recruiting efforts with other business functions that are already using social media to ensure that you aren’t sending out conflicting messages. Also, consider forming a cross-functional team that shares best practices and new information about social media so all the key learning gets shared across the organization.

6. Measure results.
Investing time into social media has all sorts of “soft” outcomes like brand building and building community, but at the end of the day what matters most is whether or not you are driving more qualified applicants to your company that result in hires. Never lose sight of the fact that your success as a recruiter is measured by quality hires, not number of Twitter followers.

There are a number of good articles about measuring ROI from social media recruiting. There is no clear consensus and opinions range from “measuring ROI on social media is impossible” to “measuring ROI is critical if you’re going to invest the time and expense.” Here are two quality resources on social media ROI from Mashable and The Red Recruiter.

While it may be true that measuring ROI on social recruiting isn’t clear-cut, there are several things to keep in mind.

Free? — Even if social media resources are “free,” there is a cost to use them. Employee time must be factored in when evaluating the effectiveness and the return on any social media campaign.

Making hires — Social media recruiting must result in hires. Put trackable URLs in any social media post that links to a job posting so you can see how many potential candidates click through to your postings from your different social media sources.

Set clear goals — Goals must be established for all of your social recruiting efforts. Diving into social media recruiting without clearly stated goals and measurable outcomes is like heading off on a road trip without a map or any clear idea of where you want to go. You’ll end up somewhere, but it might not be pleasant or worth the effort. Setting goals for number of followers or friends could be a measure, but it’s not the end goal. The end goal is to fill more jobs, faster, with high quality candidates. Period.

About the Author

Jenifer Lambert is a VP with Terra Staffing Group, a Pinnacle Society recognized Executive Recruiter, and President of Elevate Performance Systems, LLC, a consulting and training firm that helps third-party recruiters grow their business.