Social recruitment – 10 pitfalls to avoid
Social media platforms offer the potential for wide-reaching, cost-effective marketing streams for organizations looking to attract fresh talent. As well as giving companies a voice with which to connect with candidates and promote the benefits they offer as an employer, social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can also help companies learn more about prospective candidates and uncover information that may not be included in an application or resume.
While social media platforms can be useful to recruiters, there are also disadvantages and risks that need to be considered when making the online world part of the recruitment process. Here are some of the potential pitfalls companies should try to avoid.
- Failing to find your audience
Brand accounts already have an uphill climb in attracting people to follow them online – the majority of people using social media platforms do so to stay connected to friends and family, sharing events from their personal lives such as birthday celebrations and holidays. Without a strong, engaging brand image, companies may fail to attract the social media users they want to connect to.Before using social media professionally, it’s important to research your target audience and their online habits – diving in with an overly corporate tone of voice and no clear engagement goals could drive away your audience and limit your online reach.
- Mixed messages
Failure to establish a clear voice across social media platforms could be costly when it comes to widening reach and growing your base of followers. Content shared on social media should also adapt to the platform: informal and relaxed on Facebook; a more professional, formal approach on LinkedIn; and clear and concise on Twitter, as character limits apply.Develop a clear online personality that engages with your audience without damaging the integrity of the company. Have a clear message and develop a social media content strategy that promotes it, making your brand recognizable to your followers.
- Failure to engage
Once you have successfully captured your audience online, you must nurture them to ensure they don’t lose interest. Don’t simply post endless advertisements for job vacancies –post company news items and industry updates that are useful to your followers and offer genuine insight to them, adding legitimacy and authenticity to your social media profile.
Engagement is key – encourage comments (and reply when appropriate), create shareable content that can travel further than your own pool of followers and make use of images and video to attract attention. Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds are becoming more and more crowded as companies, news providers and the personal connections of each user compete for prevalence. The more people that engage directly with your posts, the more prominent they will be.
- Unfair selection
When harnessing social media as part of the recruitment process, remember that some candidates may not use social media at all – out of privacy concerns, personal preference or a lack of confidence with the technology. Don’t indirectly eliminate quality candidates by assuming they can only be reached through social media – traditional ads on recruitment websites or in print are still important to ensure you’re reaching all the potential talent for the role. Social media can enhance your recruitment, but it shouldn’t be the only tool you use.
- Misleading information
While some candidates may show off a dazzling social media presence and ever-growing flock of followers, it’s important to see beyond the Instagram filters and verify the skills and experience they’re claiming to have. Don’t take social media profiles at face value – if a candidate does impress with their LinkedIn or Twitter accounts, cross-reference the information with their resume and application – or at the interview stage – to ensure it’s not just clever social media PR. Remember, you’re only being shown a highlights reel – selective editing is a huge part of modern social media use.
- Invasion of privacy
Ethics are also an important consideration when it comes to using social media as an additional reference source for prospective employees. While a candidate’s Facebook profile may be in the public domain, is it ethical to use information not submitted as part of an application or resume as part of the recruitment process?While a candidate may follow you on Twitter – giving you access to their history – is there a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to tweets from five years ago that may not be as professional as their more recent output? A company that becomes too invasive during the recruitment process could damage its online reach as wary candidates choose not to engage on social media platforms.
- Selling yourself short
With the potential exception of LinkedIn, most social media platforms aren’t suitable for posting entire job specifications. In particular, Twitter limits companies to 140-character job descriptions, decidedly ineffective in communicating the requirements of the job being advertised.Share job vacancies on social media, but ensure the full description is easily accessible on a company website or job site, and include the link in any social media promotion. After all, you wouldn’t accept a 140-character application for a role via Twitter – you’d want to see the full resume.
- Taking on too much
While it may be tempting to create brand accounts on every social media platform available to you, consider how much resource you can dedicate to the maintenance of your social media profiles and consider the platforms most suited to your goals. One well-executed, consistent brand account is worth far more than eight that are neglected and infrequently updated. Poor social media management can have a direct impact on how people perceive your brand and your professionalism.
- Potential for backlash
While social media is a fantastic tool for promoting your business, be wary that disgruntled former employees, applicants that didn’t get the job, or customers unsatisfied with your services can use your social media presence against you. Damning reviews or critical comments can often spread faster than positive feedback online – have a strategy ready for how to deal with these incidents and ensure you resolve them before they go viral.
- Hard to measure success
Quantifying return can be tricky when it comes to social media. A post may have been ‘liked’ or retweeted a hundred times, but how many of those users followed the link to the relevant content on your company website? A job vacancy posting may have been shared far and wide, but how many quality candidates applied as a direct result of that post?
Asking candidates where they saw your job vacancy can help determine the overall impact of a social media strategy when it comes to recruitment, but hard data may be hard to pin down. This in turn can make it difficult to decide how much resource you can afford to allocate to social media management – and at what point the cost outweighs the benefit.
Social media has opened a new channel of communication between companies and industry talent pools, allowing for direct engagement before a resume has even been submitted. College graduates looking for their first job may be more effectively reached via social media compared to more traditional forms of advertising – and when done well, social media marketing can be cost-effective and efficient.
But it’s not as simple as creating a profile and posting job vacancies. Consider audience, strategy, the ethical use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter in recruitment and the quality of information you are posting and receiving. Beware the pitfalls outlined above – and don’t get caught out in the ever-expanding bubble of social media.