Social recruitment in 10 steps.

Attracting the right candidates to your organisation is the most important stage of any recruitment process, no matter the platform. It’s also the most expensive. So how can an organisation not only minimise costs while attracting the best talent, but develop a stronger employer brand? Integrating social media into your recruitment strategy is a step in the right direction.

Social media provides an organisation access to an engaged talent pool while increasing the brand awareness of an organisation with potential employees. While social media may be commonplace, there is still confusion as to how meaningful content that reflects your employee value proposition (EVP) can attract talent to an organisation. This need not be the case.

Here are ten steps to make sure your organisation is using social media effectively.


  1. Understand the context.

The desire to ‘build a community‘ is no longer the property of public sector campaigns. They’ve also become hallmarks of corporate communications and online recruitment as the search for talent continues.

Social networking has always been about building communities of like-minded people who share common values, ambitions, knowledge and insight. For recruiters, this means building relationships with talented people who may be the perfect candidates for the right jobs. For companies on social media, the same applies. The days of the head hunter focused on acquisitions and competition are now numbered. This is a transactional, expensive approach that does little to build the value of the employer. The ‘global war’ for the best talent is being fought out among 10% of active job seekers. Focusing on using recruitment agencies, job boards, and CV searching, the 90% non-active segment is ignored, often leaving the best people for the job overlooked. Social recruitment targets both segments, ensuring your organisation is front of mind when people are ready to make a move.

  1. Develop a value proposition.

What drives a potential employee to consider your organisation? The job is important but this is not the only consideration. Probing for those little epiphanies and nuances is crucial to understanding what makes your target audience tick and developing content that will resonate and engage them. Start with your first advocates… your staff. Talk to them. Ask them about how they found out about their role, what they enjoy about working for your organisation as well as how they network – both on and offline. Find out what is being shared online by your target audiences, through which channels and for what purposes.

  1. Know the numbers.

To make an informed assessment on using social media recruitment, it is important to understand what the current ‘cost per hire’ is of your target employees. This includes the cost of advertising new positions, cost of HR staff, and the cost to fill roles with temporary agency staff whilst you look for new talent.

Time is money, and the monitoring of social networking sites and interviewing of candidates must be considered. Let realistic assessments dictate what you do as an organisation online.

  1. Educate employees.

Social media has blurred the boundaries of our personal and professional lives. As employees begin to have an increasing role as brand advocates, it is important to ensure that current employees are aware of what your social media policy means in real life. Many employees are unaware of how social networks really work and how seemingly benign conversations may be in conflict with their employee code of conduct and other relevant policies. Ensure that current employees are aware of what your social media policy means in real life..  It takes time to develop a reputation online and employee social media profiles contribute to this image. Social recruiting is based on relationships; don’t run the risk of losing them overnight.

  1. Map your social network.

Where do your current and potential employees go online? What professional or academic communities do they frequent? Who influences them? By researching how your target audience use social media and listing the website that they visit, your team have the best possible chance of speaking directly to the type of employees that you value.  This research must begin before you engage with potential staff online and be regularly revised to ensure efficacy.

  1. Story telling is key, spin is over.

You’ve worked on your employee value proposition, now tell the story. Presenting a positive image of your organisation need not be scripted or carefully crafted. In fact, it’s more impactful when it’s not. Potential employees want to know what you business stands for and the most accessible indicator of this is your staff. Think broadly about your organisation and encourage employees from all section to share their stories online. This content can engage a wider field of potential employees, appealing to different people and different skills. Harness these stories by sharing and promoting them through the employee’s own social networks and those identified in your social media network analysis. Stories needed be perfectly scripted. They need to be real.

  1. Build a community.

Build a platform that allows you maintain a consistent presence while linking to other social networks. Use this resource to both attract the ideal candidates and to assist them throughout the recruitment process. In time, this can help make the recruitment process more effective by providing information around the frequently asked questions you hear from prospective employees.

  1. Refer traffic. 

Make references to your program both online and offline. Those people and organisations – whether industry or academic that has a role to play in your traditional sourcing, should be introduced to your social media initiatives. Search engine optimisation will help cast a wider net. Ensure that analytics are used on your website and social media channels so that you can track referrals and look for trends.

  1. Measure success.

Define goals from the outset of your program. These will help understand both the effectiveness of your strategy and where you can reduce spend in traditional channels over time. Social media goals should be both short-term and long-term. They should allow you to track your progress over time. Most importantly, they should not distract you from building genuine relationships with your future employees. A goal to reach a certain number of followers or likes by a specific date should not be the focus, merely a forecast of influence. Ultimately you are looking at how these activities can improve the speed in which you source candidates, improve the type of candidates you are attracting and reduce recruitment costs.

  1. Encourage user content.

Social media delivers the best results when it encourages two-way communication, refraining from using the platforms as a broadcasting tool for company announcements. Ensure that the content is a mix of employee and company stories, job opportunities as well as industry related content.  By engaging potential employees online, you are beginning a relationship with candidates before they walk out the door of their old employer and through yours.

Kate Crawshaw is Director, Engagement at Ellis Jones. This article appeared in HC Online (Human Capital Magazine). Find out more about our social recruiting practice.