How to Find Valuable Employees through Social Media and Online Networking

It may sound obvious, but it’s worth pointing out: Job seekers go where the employment opportunities are. Because of the sheer number of openings they list, job boards and aggregators and company websites are among the first stops on a typical candidate’s itinerary. But social media is not far behind.

Many job candidates have an incredibly large online network of friends they contact for insight on various jobs and companies. Even people who didn’t grow up using computers engage in active social networking. Because of this, a social media and online networking strategy is an essential part of your overall recruitment program.

The first step in building a social media presence for your company is to understand how various media differ. In addition to stand-alone job boards, some social networks — LinkedIn being the prime example — feature job-seeking services directly through their platforms.

Others benefit from outside firms that enable these features. TweetMyJobs, for instance, integrates with a job seeker’s existing profile on Twitter or Facebook, allowing her to identify open roles that have been posted to these social networks. BranchOut, which is integrated with Facebook, and BeKnown are two similar services.

Aggregators such as SimplyHired and Indeed, also piggyback on a person’s social media profiles, enabling him to identify contacts who are somehow connected to open roles that have been posted.

There are many advantages to listing your job openings on social networks, either directly or through a third party. Perhaps the most important benefit is the ability to reach a very wide audience. The most popular social networks have millions of users and information can be shared among individuals very quickly. Before you realize it, your job ad may reach someone who otherwise wouldn’t have known about it.

You also may be able to communicate your vacancy to highly targeted groups of professionals. Communities of like-minded individuals exist within every social network. For example, LinkedIn features groups for people who share the same profession, job title, alma mater, or interests.

One of the defining characteristics of social media is that they encourage interaction. The whole point is to talk to other members and share links, photos, and other tidbits. As a result, you can take an active role in recruiting. Sending a message or tweet or changing your status quickly lets everyone you’re connected to know about your opening and encourages them to share the news with their own connections.

You also can easily search people’s profiles (especially on LinkedIn) and identify professionals with certain skill sets. Many sites offer tools to help you do this. This can be an effective way of locating passive job candidates.

At the same time, job seekers can contact you directly and ask questions about the company or position, enabling you to address concerns they may have and highlight aspects of your organization that may appeal to potential employees.

Of course, candidates also can identify people who work for you — and reach out to them for candid thoughts on the company. Do employees know how to respond or whom to forward requests to? Do you want them to respond at all? You may want to prepare your workers for these types of inquiries by providing training or drafting social media guidelines that outline acceptable behavior.

Also, recognize the potential benefit of giving workers the freedom to share their experiences with the firm with their online networks. You may find that, with the right guidance, your employees can aid your recruiting efforts and help spread the word about why your company is a great place to work. Sincere and unfiltered insight into the organization, provided by actual employees, can be a powerful draw for job seekers.

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