However, most organizations are operating without an overarching strategy that defines how to get a solid and visible return from their social media approaches. Recruiters have become caught up in the technology and are using these tools without much focus on whether they are working or not. Organizations are creating Facebook fan pages, LinkedIn groups, and so on with little understanding of their goals for doing so. While there may be cases where a recruiter can say that they made a hire because of a social media tool, there are few organizations that can show a consistent return or prove that some other approach would not have worked just as well.
Many traditional tools such as email, job board postings, and face-to-face meetings may be as successful (or even more so in some cases), but are abandoned in the excitement generated by the social networking platforms.
Before social media will become a mature process for recruiting, we need to build appropriate strategies and measurements to gauge its success.
Here are five things to consider:
Focus on a Goal
Before anything, establish what you hope to gain from adopting social media platforms. Do you want to increase brand awareness, drive more interested potential candidates to your career site, or convert social media group members to employees?
What are you promising your hiring managers that could not be more easily or cheaply done through some other media?
Start with a written objective that is small enough to achieve and that can be done through some sort of social media application.
Know Who You Are Recruiting
Are you trying to hire mostly experienced mid-career professionals, or are you after recent college graduates? Are you focused on building a talent community for future recruitment or are you looking for immediate hires?
These are key questions to ask when it comes to choosing a strategy and a recruiting platform. Social media is most effective with younger candidates and most likely would be a marginal choice if you were recruiting executives or seasoned professionals. You need to deeply understand where people go to look for jobs, what attracts them to your company, and how to reach passive candidates.
Using referrals or telephone calls may work better than Facebook or LinkedIn, and nothing should be excluded from your initial strategy planning. To assume that everyone is connected, has a Facebook profile, and uses LinkedIn is flawed.
Tie All Your Social Media to a Destination
I believe that proper implementations are hierarchical in nature. All your social media efforts should drive potential candidates to a central place: ideally your talent community. Many organizations have a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page, a LinkedIn page, and perhaps other social media vehicles as well. While these are valuable ways to approach a variety of people and offer many channels for communication, they can also lead to candidate confusion and to a loss of ROI.
By having a central website or talent community as an endpoint where candidates can learn about your organization, find more details about an open position, and where you can screen and communicate with candidates, is a core element in a successful social media strategy.
Use and Educate Your Hiring Managers
Asking hiring managers to communicate with candidates via Twitter or Facebook can be a real asset. They can provide authentic information, answer questions, and even close offers. But to make this a legal and effective process, you need to provide hiring managers with some education on how to effectively use social media. Provide them with guidelines, work with your legal department to build an agreed-upon process for communication. Keeping all social media interaction with the recruiting department limits its value and lowers ROI.
Look for Crossover Benefits
Use a broad array of tools to source candidates but look for areas of synergy. For example, how can your job postings drive potential candidates to your Twitter or Facebook accounts? How can you leverage a quick phone chat to invite someone to join your Facebook fan page? The goal should be to always get interested people to your destination site or talent community. Social media is primarily for sourcing and communication, not for selling or closing a candidate.
I have put a together simple chart (above, click to enlarge) to help organize thinking about the value and use of a variety of social media tools.
In every case, the strategy is to use social media in a casual chain: to move people from casual or no awareness of your employment brand to being actively engaged in learning about possible opportunities and ultimately to become an active candidate and/or employee.