What You Need to Know on Social Media Recruiting

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ADO_Q1-Webinar-followup_Fb-image_504x504Our most recent webinar highlighted the importance and value of using social media as a recruitment tool. Throughout the presentation, we had many thought provoking questions from participants coming from varying backgrounds and industries. But unfortunately, we didn’t have time to answer each one.

To keep the conversation going, panelists Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt, authors of A World Gone Social, weighed in on some of the top questions from the webinar, including:

  • What advice would you have for a recruiter with a boss that is “social media resistant”?
  • What are some best practices for maintaining a healthy social talent community?
  • Where are my dream employees doing their job search?

Keep reading to learn more about how you can create and perfect your own social media recruiting strategy.


Sarah S.: I would like to hear best practices in maintaining a social talent community such as Facebook. My experience in posting on job boards within Facebook is that people expect immediate answers to their questions and it’s a lot to take on that task of keeping up with the communication.

While we’re big fans of Facebook groups, we aren’t big fans of posting jobs on Facebook. The first goal should always be to provide value for the community (job search tips and interviews with hiring managers, for example). Next on the list is recognition of current employees, interns and champions; Facebook is a great place to celebrate performance, diversity and innovative thinking by team members. Finally, Facebook is a great place to showcase company culture, perhaps through posting of pictures from company outings, volunteer efforts and mentors in action.

So how do you let people know you have open jobs? High-level posts such as “Help us spread the word… we’re currently looking for marketing, sales and admin professionals.”

Christy P.: My company does not want to use Facebook as a source for recruiting – stating they feel this will open us up to legal issues related to bias in the selection process. Can you address this? And Christy K.: For AAP plans, how are the reporting requirements taken care of for applicant flow through social media. And Cindy F.: How does job posting on social media coordinate with EEO requirements to post jobs?

These are very real concerns – and the fact is that not even EEOC and OFCCP traditionalists know how to answer this question. They recognize that social media is a powerful sourcing and recruiting tool, but also recognize that informal background and reference checks are a potential mine field.

One solution that everyone seems to agree on is to wait until after the job offer has been made to do any sort of background or reference checks. However, not even the EEOC sees this as a long-term solution; they know employers are going to use every tool in their arsenal even before selecting which applicants to invite to an interview.

Best case scenario: thoroughly document every applicant your company checks out online – whether in a formal or informal manner. Carefully note why the applicant was eliminated from consideration; mentions of drug and alcohol use, swearing, polarizing comments and failure to fit within the existing culture are among the most common – and are also the most commonly accepted (or at least tolerated) by enforcement agencies.

Asima C.: I recruit for the civil engineering industry and most of these civil infrastructure engineers are not even on social media. Would you agree that the digital savvy job seeker mostly comes from more technology-centric disciplines?

Social media, frankly, is still too new for many industries. Engineering, government, medical and legal, for example, are well behind the social learning curve. Those industries, and many more, are still finding their best success through traditional recruiting methods. This is changing as we speak, though, so please keep that in mind. Social as a way of life, and thus a way of doing the work part of our lives, keeps making deeper inroads into an older demographic – technology-averse populations, overseas, etc. At some point, every group we might think of will be fully fluent with social, in every aspect of their lives – including job search.

Thelma R.: Regarding personal brand; where does one draw the line between the organization’s brand and their personal brand? When using social media to recruit, I am representing the organization, not myself.

This is a great question – and an area of concern for many recruiters. Others see no difference between their personal and professional brands – and recruit knowing these lines are blurred.

The bottom line for many is knowing exactly how comfortable they are with being “personal” on social. Those with issues about security or privacy tend to use their corporate accounts more; those who wish to integrate their personal and professional brands — which it seems customers tend to trust more — put themselves out there for the world to see.

One consideration in making this decision for yourself is, you may be recruiting for your current employer today. In ten years, you may still be a recruiter, but for an entirely different company. Build your personal brand as you build your employer’s, and you can take your own brand with you.

Brittany H.: What advice would you have for a recruiter with a boss that is “social media resistant”? In other words, I’m not to use FB/Twitter, for fear of opening up our company (we’re a smaller business) to potential negativity.

You and a million others, Brittany! Social is still new – and many old-schoolers equate social with a lack of privacy as well as security issues. And, of course, they fear the negatives will outweigh the positives.

So here’s what we would say to a recruiter with a dinosaur boss: “If you want us to recruit the best talent, especially the best young talent, we need to go social. Let’s do that in a way you are comfortable with; slowly and assuredly. As we build confidence and build our brand online, we’ll take bigger baby steps – and eventually be competing well; we’ll be seen as a socially-capable firm.”

And if that doesn’t work, try this: “We need to become digitally fluent… because the people they bring in to replace us certainly will be.”

Brandi E.: I currently use Social Media for recruiting purposes. However, I am the sole corporate recruiter, which means there’s barely enough time in the day. What small steps do you suggest I take to be more personable? I definitely do not want to come across as a salesperson.

Kudos, Brandi… for taking this on solo AND for choosing not to be a social salesperson.

We get your question a lot. And when we do, we stress the importance of balance. A recruiter would never spend all their time on the phone; they would never sit at their desk all day doing nothing but email.

Social media is just another communication tool. Blend it in to your current work habits; maybe 30 to 45 minutes every morning and 30 to 45 minutes after lunch. Soon, you’ll see that the time is well spent (and you may even see you don’t miss the phone or email all that much!).

Ross B.: Should companies have a separate career Twitter account in addition to individual recruiters on Twitter?

Great question, Ross. SMBs and large businesses are certainly doing well by having career-focused Twitter accounts. The key is to make sure the employer brand is consistent across all accounts, and across all platforms.

Shari M.: My “rule” with LinkedIn is to only connect with people I know and/or have worked with a bit so I am comfortable responding to inquiries from others about them. I’ve been getting a lot of invitations on LinkedIn from people I’ve never met and I’m not comfortable doing so. Is the new idea that if someone connects with someone, it will help them get a job somehow? I understand that I’m a recruiter but don’t want to be connected to people I don’t know; am I wrong?

For many recruiters, LinkedIn has become Spamville. This problem has been exasperated by the advice given to job seekers to connect with recruiters before they apply. Unfortunately, those job seekers take the easy way out – typically through a spammy connect request – rather than communicating in group discussions, commenting on blog posts or through some other form of commonality.

One effective rule of thumb: if the connect request is personalized, give them the benefit of the doubt; at least consider the request. If they’re sending the generic LinkedIn message, with no attempt to build a relationship, a lot of people choose to hit the ‘Trash’ button.

Each social platform has its own ethic, its own unwritten rules of engagement. On Twitter, the generally accepted ethic is that everyone follows everyone, and follows everyone back (though we encourage you to not follow obvious spammers and bots back). This openness and connection is why many people consider Twitter the most social of the platforms out there.

The ethic on LinkedIn is, generally, for people to erect walls around themselves, and only connect with those they already know: “Do I know you? Prove it!” as Ted likes to kid. This makes connection and social networking much slower and more deliberate – as you describe with your own preference.

The strangers reaching out to connect with you on LinkedIn may be spammers, without question. We encounter them ourselves, for sure. They may also be trying to bring their open ethic to a more closed network, however. It’s up to you how you handle that.

Dan A.: Do you guys think recruiters undervalue Twitter as a resource? Everyone seems to be on LinkedIn

An engaged presence on Twitter has been a windfall to many recruiters – both from a personal brand and from the corporate point of view. And yet, LinkedIn is so much easier – and far more anonymous (therefore “safer”) for many recruiters.

Again, this is a personal decision. How much of “you” are you willing to put out on social?  

Stephanie B.: Do you need to appoint a company rep to be the face of social media interactions? Or just personalize the “business” postings? And Faith M.: In reference to posting opportunities on Twitter, Facebook, etc., do most organizations have someone who specifically does these tasks within HR or is this an additional responsibility for each recruiter?

Early adopters were quick to hire “Social Media Managers” and “Community Managers.” In many cases, these specialists controlled almost all outgoing tweets and posts. In Phase II of the Social Age, however, we’re learning that it is personal relationships that win the day… and each of us must be, to some degree, approachable on social media.

One way to look at this: a business or recruiting professional would not be comfortable with someone else answering their phone or responding to emails; they wouldn’t want to give up their voice, control of their personal brand nor their position within the community. Those professionals are starting to feel the same way about social media… they are treating social like any other communication tool. They own the words that are used, and when… and we think the world is a better, more authentic, place as a result.

After all, as we say in A World Gone Social: “More social. Less media.” And the heart of social is… being authentically you!

Ted Coiné 

Ted Coine AWGS HeadshotTed is Chief Marketing Officer of Meddle.it, the next generation content marketing tool for organizations and individuals.

He is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership gave Ted a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest co-authored book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

An Inc. Top 100 Speaker, Ted is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. He lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife and two daughters.

Follow Ted on Twitter: @tedcoine

Mark Babbitt
Mark Babbitt AWGS HeadshotMark is CEO of YouTern, a talent community that Forbes has twice named a “Top Website for Your Career.” He also serves as President of Switch and Shift, a site that champions social leadership, and he is a founder of ForwardHeroes which launches in 2015 to help our military veterans transition successfully into civilian careers.

Mark is the co-author of A World Gone Social: How Business Must Adapt to Survive with Ted Coiné (AMACOM | September 2014). An in-demand speaker and mentor, Mark has been named as a Top 100 leadership speaker by Inc. and one of the “15 Twitter Accounts Every Entrepreneur Should Follow” by Business News Daily.

Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkSBabbitt


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