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Andy Campbell


HCM Strategy Director

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Social recruitment to find top talent


The upsurge in social media use continues to promote the growth of online communities around the world. For businesses today, the expanding role that these channels play in peoples’ daily lives has made them increasingly attractive talent harvesting tools.

We spend more time than ever on social networks, and forward-thinking businesses looking to capitalise on this trend have joined the online conversation to reach potential hires in a social and cost-effective way. A recent report from Acas underlines the rapid adoption of social strategies by businesses today, revealing that 45% of HR decision-makers already use social media as an effective recruitment tool[1].

Perhaps just as tellingly, 18% of recruiters use platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter to follow up with candidates even after the interview process[2], indicating that these mediums are quickly becoming primary communications channels in the talent harvesting process.  

HR executives today must take note of these trends. By recognising social media’s value in spreading a brand image and targeting the best talent, businesses can consistently attract the most qualified, suitable, and enthusiastic candidates. To make the most of social media as an HR tool, businesses must build on the trust people place in their social networks and establish themselves as employers of choice in the social sphere.

Relationships built on trust

The migration towards social recruitment reflects the growing confidence we place in the opinions of people in our digital communities. However, as with any social group, online or otherwise, we tend to value some opinions more than others. By the same token, we are likely to meet unsolicited approaches from people with which we do not have personal relationships with scepticism.

Unfortunately, many businesses continue to view digital communities as little more than large pools of candidates to bombard with job postings and uninvited information, and therefore struggle to exploit social media’s full recruitment potential. With people today all but immune to unwelcome online communications, employers must change their approach if they wish to attract the best talent.

An effective social recruitment strategy begins with an understanding of how people today manage their digital connections. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn recognise the human component of online community-building and foster the creation of networks built on trust, in addition to professional association. HR executives that reach out to prospects organically via their connections have the best chance of making a meaningful impression on them. In fact, research from UK recruitment agency Kelly Services suggests that 58% of Britons take stock in job referrals received from people in their immediate social networks[3].

When employed correctly, social media becomes a very powerful candidate sourcing tool that can transform enterprise processes in a dramatic way. For one, businesses can benefit from the trust people place in their social connections by promoting candidate referrals from employees. At the same time, reaching out to potential candidates through avenues they actually pay attention to will enable recruiters to focus their recruitment efforts and realise their full potential for reaching ‘untapped’ talent. 

To add to this, by involving their workforce in the recruitment process, businesses can give their employees a voice in shaping their company’s future. This will promote a more collaborative work environment and help ensure that new hires experience the right cultural fit when joining their team. 

Maintaining a strong presence

In addition to providing HR executives with new channels for proactive recruitment, social networks present job seekers with an up-to-date source of candid insider feedback on their would-be employers.

Websites that provide forums for worker-generated employer reviews, such as Glassdoor and TheJobCrowd, have evolved beyond their early incarnations as simply sounding boards for endless workers grievances to become legitimate sources of information on a business’ activities and work culture. As such, they are breeding an increasingly savvy workforce intent on making the most informed career decisions possible.

In light of these conditions, it has never been more important for organisations to assert themselves as employers of choice in the social media space. Indeed, forward-looking HR executives will capitalise on the public’s growing digital engagement to make their social media recruitment efforts even more effective.

Online social communities provide a well-populated venue in which businesses can promote a company brand and transmit a message that resonates with their employees and helps engage new prospects. By jumping on the newfound transparency between themselves and job seekers, businesses can create a community of information that will work to their advantage both internally and externally.

In addition to promoting favourable employee engagement with a platform for open discussion, establishing a strong online presence can help businesses draw a base of followers that identify with their values. These relationships can then develop into potential recruitment opportunities, and give HR departments the peace of mind of knowing they are attracting top talent with a vested interest in their company’s future.

It’s a digital world

The rise of social media has seen talent management evolve from an occasional, as-needed activity to a dynamic, on-going process. At the same time, today’s workforce is at once more hungry for information than ever and more discerning about the content it engages with. Recruiters must keep abreast of these conditions, and strike a balance between extending their social reach and encroaching on their prospects’ social media bubble.

With more businesses embracing social media as a recruitment tool each day, the time has come for HR departments to develop modern talent management strategies that make the most of the digital realm. Those that do so stand to discover untapped talent to complement their business’ vision, while those that do not risk falling further behind the competition and putting their future success in jeopardy.

[1] The Use of Social Media in the Recruitment Process, Acas 2013

[2] Social Recruiting Survey 2013, Jobvite 2013

[3] Social Media and Recruitment, Kelly services 2013

Author Profile Picture
Andy Campbell

HCM Strategy Director

Read more from Andy Campbell

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