Two years ago, David Griner took to social networking websites to hire a social media strategist for his employer. He was promptly rewarded with the best applicant pool he’d ever had.
“It started just as a natural fit to advertise social media jobs, but now, that’s really the first place we go for everything,” said Griner, the digital content manager for Luckie and Co., a Birmingham, Ala.,-based marketing agency.
Like Griner, many small businesses have found LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and company blogs to be valuable hiring tools. The sluggish economy has only accelerated this trend, according to Jessica Miller-Merrell, the CEO of Xceptional HR consulting firm.
Engage where they are
“A lot of companies are looking at social media as a low-cost alternative to job boards,” said Miller-Merrell, the author of “Tweet This! Twitter for Businesses.” (The P3 Press, 2010). “I would much rather engage somebody actively on a social media site where they are spending their time versus doing what I call spray-and-pray: sending out your message -- maybe you post it in newspapers and billboards and hand out fliers -- and then just praying that people will come to your career site.”
For recruiters, nothing says potential like the 500 million Facebook users spending 700 billion minutes on the site a month, the 100 million LinkedIn profiles, and the 200 million Twitter accounts publishing 140 million tweets a day. Despite social networks’ popularity, Miller-Merrell said efficiency isn’t a given unless a company has built extensive networks on social media sites.
“It’s not a short-term strategy,” Miller-Merrell told BusinessNewsDaily. “If you’re a small business and you want to attract job seekers, it’s going to take work for you to be able to build your network and your community.”
For companies with a less than robust social media presence, Miller-Merrell advises using LinkedIn and Facebook ads that target potential applicants by searching for specific skills or work experiences. LinkedIn advertisements start at $10 a day and Facebook’s counterparts go for as little as $1 a day.
Miller-Merrell also recommended describing the position in the job section of Facebook’s Marketplace, which is free, and spending the $195 to post an opening on LinkedIn’s job board for 30 days. However, she said Job Magic, a tool that posts jobs across 300 social media platforms, may be a more economical tactic since it costs $39 a month for individual recruiters and comes with other features.
Using Facebook generates better results when the role is more general or word of mouth might be useful, according to Ann Clifford, the president of Safari Solutions, a human resources consulting firm serving small businesses. Whereas LinkedIn is better for managerial or professional roles in specialized industries, she said.
Recruiters looking to go beyond searching for candidates by keyword, which works well on Twitter and LinkedIn, may want to join industry groups on LinkdIn, said Nov Omana, the CEO and founder of Collective HR Solutions.
“If I created a group in LinkedIn for my industry… I can post my thoughts and join a network of my peers,” Omana said. “I would go search the forums, and look for not only what people are saying, but how people are being regarded by their peers.”
However, mining social media may sometimes reveal too much information. Marc Sanchez, an attorney specializing in technology and privacy laws, said social media profiles often divulge information like age or religion that are considered protected classes and illegal to consider when hiring.
“The problem with social media is if you learn about [classified information] haphazardly, you’re giving the appearance that you’re making the decision based on improper information,” Sanchez said.
“If you know that your company wants to use social media, set criteria to use it for all applicants,” Sanchez told BusinessNewsDaily. “It’s also a good idea to keep the hiring manager away from that process. Have somebody in HR screen information so they’re just getting information to the employer that’s not in the protected classes.”