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Small Businesses Source Top Talent with Social Recruiting
By Angela Stringfellow
Small-business owners are embracing social networking, not just for marketing their products and services, but to recruit top talent. Likewise, job seekers are increasingly turning to LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook to land new roles.From the employer's perspective, social networks are taking on a new form as valuable resources for finding skilled professionals who may not be actively seeking new employment. According to Jobvite's 2012 Social Recruiting Survey, 92 percent of recruiters are using, or plan to use, social recruiting in the near future. Among those who do, 43 percent report an increase in candidate quality.
Earning an Internship
Planit, a full-service marketing communications agency based in Baltimore, decided to capitalize on social media to recruit its next round of interns. Candidates competed for four coveted internships by submitting videos and other materials, showcasing their talents to the company's Facebook page. The public was allowed to vote, and the top vote-getter earned a final interview along with four other candidates. In total, four interns were hired.
Caitlin Mills, Director of PR and Social, said the project was a perfect fit for Planit given the nature of the business and the company's culture: Fun, creative and innovative.
"We knew that our target demographic consists of avid social users, so it made sense for us to evaluate them in their own environment," Mills explains. "Planit is big on culture, it's what makes our company so unique. It's important for us to enhance our team with members who share our values, and this project helped us identify candidates we knew would be a great fit with our current team: Dedicated, driven and fun."
Demonstrating Social SkillsPlanit also took advantage of the opportunity to evaluate candidates' social networking prowess. Because social campaigns are a big part of the company's service offerings, they wanted interns who could demonstrate social media expertise. The nature of the application process helped Planit identify those candidates who were truly comfortable with the medium.
The project also resulted in follower growth on Planit's social platforms. The company's Facebook fan count jumped from 1,400 to 3,500 from the project's inception to its end, an increase of 147 percent. Candidates received a total of 5,700 votes in just three weeks; the company's total reach jumped by 1,000 percent, reaching 34,000 people each week.
Planit's intern contest was administered using a Facebook application.
Planit makes a point to mention all open positions on its social channels before a formal job post ever goes up, a tactic they've had great success with. In fact, both Mills and Kelsey Reck, Planit's social media strategist in charge of executing the intern project, found out about their positions on social sites. Overall, about 25 percent of the company's current employees first heard about their positions on a social platform.
Scrapping the Want AdSmall-business owners don't always have the time to post job openings and sort through dozens of resumes. For that reason, many turn to recruiters to find the best candidates, even before actively advertising a position. Savvy recruiters have developed methods for using social platforms to identify and reach out to highly qualified candidates.
Mark Moyer, Principal of Compass Points Advisors, LLC, has spent the past 23 years working as an executive recruiter serving the financial services industry, and he's adapted his methods over time for a competitive edge as hiring practices change. Moyer uses LinkedIn almost exclusively to source candidates using a defined process that he's developed over many years.
Moyer's social media strategy is different than many; he doesn't set out to rack up as many contacts as he can. Instead, he's very careful about choosing his connections, primarily focusing on attorneys, risk managers and other high-level executives working in the financial services industry. Moyer says this makes his communication more impactful, "I don't actively make open posts of positions I'm looking to fill. When I reach out to an individual because I feel they're a good fit or might know someone who is, it makes a bigger impact because I'm taking a targeted approach."
Many companies will simply post a job opening, wait for the resumes to roll in and select a candidate from that pool. But this reactive approach means you could be missing out on the best candidate who may not be actively looking, but would be willing to jump ship for the right opportunity. Moyer prefers not to post openings at all. Even if he doesn't find the perfect candidate within his own network, LinkedIn's search feature helps him find other qualified candidates. He then sends a connection request to that person along with a personalized note. Moyer says these candidates almost always accept his request.
Unlike Planit, whose target candidates skewed to the younger generation, Moyer is generally searching for white-collar professionals with years of industry experience. Therefore, he sticks to LinkedIn as his primary social recruiting tool, although he does make a point to check candidates' other social networks for a broad overview of the candidate's personality and extracurricular activities.
Time-Saving ToolsThe prospect of recruiting via social media may still seem daunting to the small-business owner already wearing five other hats, but new tools are emerging to simplify the process for the time-pressed small business.
Ovation is a social recruiting platform that automates the job posting process and provides a single interface for viewing and sorting applications. Karen Droz, President of Ovation, says the platform was designed to help small businesses identify the best matches for a position using a unique star-rating system that scores each application based on the parameters set by the hiring company.
Ovation allows users to post ads simultaneously across numerous websites, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Craigslist and Indeed.com. Droz says, "From a hiring employer's point of view, employee referrals, contacts and networking have always been the most effective way to hire good people. Social media is replacing standard networking and making it exponentially larger as each contact spreads the word to their connections, and so forth."
Ovation rates each application on a five-star rating scale, allowing hiring companies to target those with the best match without manually reading dozens of applications. Because the company offers mobile applications as well, hiring managers can instantly see what candidates have applied and respond immediately. It's also possible to set up automated responses, such as a brief message thanking a candidate for an application, to eliminate the need for manual responses.
Droz says customers have received more than 75 applications within 15 minutes of posting an ad to Craigslist. "Hiring is daunting and distracts owners from their core business. Many don't have the time or expertise to sort through the hiring process. Ovation makes it simpler, allowing companies to reach a really broad labor market in a fraction of the time, and helping to rank the best qualified candidates."
Social recruiting can boost follower counts and brand awareness.
As social recruiting continues to replace traditional methods of networking, small-business owners will be developing methods to capitalize on the ability to reach hundreds or thousands of potential candidates within minutes. Whether you take a proactive or reactive approach to the hiring process, social media provides ample opportunities to find the best talent with the added benefit of boosting social exposure for your business.
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