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Social recruiting: How to select (and maximize) your best channels

July 31, 2018

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Social recruiting: How to select (and maximize) your best channels

Social recruiting, also known as social hiring or social sourcing, is now one of the first and most popular tactics in any recruiter or sourcers recruitment toolbelt. However, despite its central status, many recruiters struggle to manage their time over so many potential social platforms. As the social space becomes more competitive for recruiters, both sourcers and recruiters will need to learn how to select the right channels for their business and optimize their time spent on these platforms.

What is social recruiting?

Social recruiting is the process of attracting active and passive candidates through any social media platform. It involves not only posting jobs but also engaging with prospective candidates and building an employer brand on these platforms. In 2017 globally people spent an average of 135 minutes per day on social media. Social media has quickly become ubiquitous and given the average time spent across platforms; it’s easy to see the value of tapping into a captive audience.

Social sourcing or social media recruiting has become particularly popular as it’s:

  • a great way of expanding your reach to passive candidates;
  • excellent for reaching specialists and niche candidates;
  • connecting and engaging with prospective candidates;
  • cost-effective (and sometimes free) job posting;
  • and building an employer brand or becoming known in your target market.

Despite the popularity of social recruiting, it’s not always clear where to reach the most people (mainly if you’re looking for a particular kind of person) and how to engage appropriately on different platforms. Below we will provide a comprehensive overview of social channels to tap into (including some not so obvious ones!), what kind of candidates they’re ideal for, and provide some engagement tips to achieve the best results in the least amount of time.

LinkedIn

It wouldn’t be right to start a guide to social sourcing channels without mentioning first LinkedIn. LinkedIn is hands down the most relevant platform to begin sourcing for pretty much every and any role you may need to fill- from the generalist, graduate roles to ultra-niche rocket-scientist-level vacancies. LinkedIn is a living database, continually updated by users themselves. But more than that, it has become a platform that attracts both active and passive candidates as they promote engagement with brands, current colleagues, and former employees. LinkedIn has been able to move beyond being just a souped-up job board to a real social platform.

Because of the sheer number and breadth of both active job seekers and passive professionals that engage on the platform, LinkedIn is far from a free resource. Recruiters attempting to contact or mass add prospective candidates are quickly pointed in the direction of a LinkedIn Recruiter Account (or promptly cut off from requesting any additional contacts). The LinkedIn Recruiter Lite account will put you back about $119.99 per month.

Consider that even in back in 2015, 92% of recruiters used LinkedIn. Since then, LinkedIn’s popularity, particularly among talent sourcing professionals, has only grown alongside social recruiting. The pool of potential candidates is enormous, but the saturation of recruiters makes the platform competitive when vying for specific skill sets.

Developing a strong employer brand, both on and off LinkedIn, is an excellent way of standing out of the crowd when it comes to beating the competition here. Additionally, you may want to consider optimizing your job descriptions to catch attention and engage users on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn going the extra mile when it comes to standing out as a stellar employer with great opportunities will make all the difference.

Facebook

Second to LinkedIn, Facebook has proven to be a powerful resource when it comes to social recruiting. Earlier in 2018, Facebook had 2.23 billion active users, making it one of the most popular social media channels in the world. Undoubtedly among these billions of users, there will be both active and passive candidates open to receiving job offers.

As Facebook is a primarily social platform (in comparison to the more career-driven LinkedIn), it can seem like an awkward place to reach out to candidates on. But like LinkedIn, Facebook’s search function is powerful when it comes to identifying individuals based on the information they openly share on the network. Free messaging on this platform also provides a competitive advantage over LinkedIn.

If you’re looking to take advantage of social sourcing through Facebook fully, identify professional or career-based groups that your target candidates might be members of. These will help focus your search. Additionally, they will be good places to share your relevant openings in addition to using Facebook Jobs.

Top tip: As mentioned, it can be uncomfortable to approach candidates over Facebook. If you identify exciting candidates who engage with your posts, cross-reference their profile with LinkedIn. If they may be a good match, send a customized message with your LinkedIn invitation.

Xing

Xing is the German-speaking cousin of LinkedIn. With over 90% of its user base located in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, Xing is a powerhouse in the DACH region for job seekers. Talent profiles on Xing are well-populated with skills experience which makes searching on the platform very easy.

From a social perspective, however, Xing is a much more challenging platform to navigate than LinkedIn. Users are less engaged here (as there is less social functionality), which causes delays in replies from prospective candidates. Additionally, social norms around approaching candidates are much stricter, making it difficult to connect with passive candidates on this platform. Unless you are specifically looking for German-speaking candidates or professionals currently based in Germany, your time may be better spent social recruiting elsewhere.

Twitter

Another platform based on purely social interaction seems like another unusual choice for sourcing. However, Twitter is a popular platform for potential candidates to research companies and possible job openings. 74% of job-seeking twitter users search company profiles, examining their activity, posts, and engagement.

Once you create a company careers twitter profile, make sure to follow and engage with industry hashtags to boost your social media tactics. Using popular (and relevant) hashtags to get your opportunities out there, will help expand your audience and increase traffic on your careers site. Remember to make sure your careers site reflects the tone and brand you advertise on Twitter.

Quora

Another unusual suspect for social recruiting, Quora is a great platform to check out trending topics in your target industry. Why would you want to be looped into trending discussions? Often experts or specialists will be answering the questions.

While Quora users will be primarily passive candidates, many of those who are answering questions on industry trending topics will be highly engaged and often knowledgeable on particular subjects. Quora is a platform you may want to cross-reference users with on LinkedIn. While Quora continues to be most popular in the United States, following trending topics in your candidates’ industries can help inform targeted outreach on other social media recruiting channels.

Google+

While other recruiters are focused on Facebook and LinkedIn, many forget Google + as a social platform with potential job seekers. It’s hard to honestly know the number of regularly active users on the platform, however, like Facebook, the group function provides a real opportunity for sourcers to engage with specialists. Make sure you search Google + Communities to join specialist groups in your target candidate audience. You may need to do a bit of discovery yourself to see if this particular social media recruiting channel works for your business, but it’s worth consideration as it draws in many users with free G-Suite features.

GitHub

Among recruiters specializing in or often sourcing for candidates in technical development, GitHub is a legendary social source for candidates. GitHub is an open-source coding platform where developers show their best work and contribute to significant projects in teams. Profiles are available publicly, and the search function allows you to search for coding languages, location, and followers.

GitHub is a specialist platform that is carefully curated by its users. Make sure to adhere to the social norms on this platform- copy-paste messaging is frowned upon, and poor research on prospective candidates is met with annoyed messages or radio silence. While checking individual repositories or coding portfolios may seem time-consuming, it will help in creating ultra-targeted outreach and hopefully result in better responses from your social recruiting efforts.

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is another developer social hotspot. Like Quora, Stack Overflow is a question and answer site but specifically designed for technical topics. If you’re frequently looking for skilled developers, clearly knowledgeable enough to answer the community’s questions, recruiting on Stack Overflow may be a good tactic in your sourcing process.

Stak Overflow now offers a Talent Account where you can post opportunities, search candidate profile and create a company page. However, this specialist network comes at a steep cost with annual packages starting at over $3,000. Additionally, Stack Overflow aims to keep the platform engaging and valuable for developers, meaning that they limit recruiters they perceive as spamming members.

Meetup

As a social platform where individuals plan meetups for social and professional interest groups, Meetup can be a great platform to add to your social repertoire. Meetup is simple to use: organizers create groups that host events, on each group and event there is a group chat function where participants and organizers can share information about the event or comments related to the event/group topic.

To tap into Meetup, join local specialist groups in your area or even areas where you may be searching for candidates. If you’re looking for Marketing professionals, look for marketing events or groups in your area. Meetup is a great way to reignite some hands-on, in-person recruiting by attending events. Additionally, you can browse event participant names to cross-reference with LinkedIn or even post your opportunity to group/event message boards (though you may want to check with the organizer first!).

Medium

If you’re looking for passionate people, Medium is a great resource to check. Medium is a platform where writers from various backgrounds come to share stories, experiences and takes on new themes or events. Medium boasts a wide range of topics with subject matter experts weighing in with their unique takes. Whether you’re looking for legal counsels or designers, Medium can be a great place to identify people who are passionate about what they do.

Once you identify potential candidates, send them targeted outreach via the channel of your choice to take your social recruiting to the next level.

Predicting top-performing channels

Social platforms provide a great opportunity for hiring professionals to not only source candidates but to also connect with them. While fear of losing out on candidates may drive some to feel as if they must use and be present on all channels, make sure you research which platforms work best for your business.

Reporting can be a really helpful way of determining where your time is best spent. When you import candidate profiles from various channels (with the candidates’ consent, of course), track the platform you initially approached them on. This way, when you consult your reports, you can see which channels have been most successful for your sourcing strategy.

Adrie is a former recruiter and Recruitee's Head of Content. With a passion for hiring and tech, she is responsible for all the awesome stuff that gets published on this blog.
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