MT Expert - IT: Using social media in your firm's recruitment strategy

Making use of the likes of Twitter and Facebook can boost your chances of attracting highly skilled talent, says Matthew Parker

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Last Updated: 14 Jun 2011
Acquiring and retaining highly skilled people has always been a managerial headache. It’s a challenge that’s now increasing worldwide as companies ramp up recruitment after two years of job cuts and freezes. But the hiring landscape has changed dramatically – the best companies today are implementing hiring strategies that capitalise on new ways to attract the rarest talent. The keys to success are deeper candidate engagement and casting a wider net - social media is a tool that switched on companies are using to reach target candidates and enhance their employer brands.

But despite growing staff demand, when we recently asked over 300 companies about their social media hiring strategy we found that awareness and corporate policies are hindering success – 28% admitted that corporate policies restricting access to social networking sites presented an obstacle. Although perceptions of a lack of control and the public nature of social media profiles were also common concerns, the main reason given was a lack of awareness, cited by 69% of respondents.

Overall, just 14% of respondents said social media is being used to its full potential and, by failing to understand what it can achieve, companies are missing out on a golden opportunity to hire key people. When used effectively it enables companies to build global talent pools by staying in touch with strong candidates not actively looking for work but who might apply at a later date. And it presents tremendous scope to search widely for candidates with a specific skill set.

This isn't to say that using social media in recruitment is entirely without drawbacks: companies must remember that while social media can meet a number of employer objectives, it also has the potential to fuel a negative backlash. Recruitment teams should be aware that if candidates feel they have been treated poorly during the interview process, negative comments can spread like wildfire through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. With social media, everything is potentially transparent. Consistent and efficient recruitment must be part of your culture.

Our research highlighted that virtually all (96%) recruiters recognise that social media has a role to play, with only 4% dismissing it as a fad. Despite the fact that recruitment tools exist with built in social media capabilities, best practice use within recruitment hasn’t yet been cemented. To ensure companies are embracing social media correctly and recruiting the right talent, there is some key advice that should be considered.

Social media is often seen as a less aggressive way of targeting new talent as it’s considered less formal than more traditional methods of communication. The new generation entering the workforce are used to communicating through this medium and will soon expect to be able to do so. If you can’t, you may miss them.

It’s important to identify and use the right social media outlet for your recruitment strategy. While services like Twitter and LinkedIn generate quick responses, if your company already has a strong Facebook presence it could well be worth concentrating your efforts there if you’re trying to recruit younger candidates or graduates. A word of caution – make sure you have the processes and systems to deal quickly with high candidate volumes or you risk disappointing exactly the good people you want to hire.

Social media levels the talent acquisition playing field by enabling smaller companies to compete with larger organisations to attract the best possible talent. As recruitment activity continues to gather pace, getting the formula right now will have a long-term impact on how successful you are engaging with and recruiting future talent, from graduates to managers.

Matthew Parker is the CEO of StepStone Solutions.

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