Human Resources Kit For Dummies
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An advantage of establishing a presence in online social networks is that you can build a large community of people who are actively engaged with your company — including potential hires. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ are among the largest and best-known social networks. But you may not want to limit yourself to these services only. New ones are constantly emerging and offering new takes on the online social experience.

Pinterest is a photo-sharing platform that launched in 2010 and has quickly amassed millions of users. It may seem to have limited use for hiring managers, but think again: Some job seekers have begun to post their résumés to the site.

Also, keep in mind that the services that are most popular in the United States are not necessarily household names elsewhere in the world. If you’re recruiting for overseas positions, the following sites may be of greater use to you: Xing, popular in Germany; Viadeo, prevalent in China and France; and Orkut, well known in Brazil, India, and Japan.

The point here is that the world of social media and online networking is changing rapidly, and you have to stay current with emerging trends to take full advantage of this recruiting source.

It’s becoming more and more expected that all companies have a presence on social media. Those who don’t may be seen as being behind the times, especially by workers who’ve embraced social media. In some ways, an organization’s Facebook page or Twitter feed is becoming the new web page. Some companies have a Facebook page only and no traditional company website at all.

By sharing news about your firm, fostering interaction among your followers and fans, and addressing inquiries from users, you can create a virtual “open house” through your social networks, where interested job candidates are able to learn about the business, its culture, and its people. When it comes time to make your next hire, you can tap a group of individuals who are already invested in your company.

It’s important to realize, however, that this takes time and effort. Users expect regular postings and open communication from the brands they follow, as well as a high level of interaction with real people inside those firms. If you aren’t willing or able to make that type of commitment, you may not be ready to launch your online open house just yet.

Keep in mind that social media also include review services where individuals can rate your company across various categories; Yelp is perhaps the best-known example.

Of particular interest to those in a recruiting role may be Glassdoor, which provides company reviews from the employee’s perspective. Visitors can access candid feedback about an organization’s culture, management, and pay practices and even learn the questions potential hires can expect to be asked during a job interview.

Such reviews can bolster — or greatly harm — your firm’s reputation among in-demand candidates. Monitor what’s being said about your company on these sites, and be prepared to counter a comment or claim you disagree with.

As with all technology-based tools, keep in mind that, although social networking sites such as LinkedIn can be useful in recruiting, they are no substitute for the value of in-person networks and reputable recruiters. Anyone in an HR role who has unlimited time and resources can identify job candidates online.

Recruiting professionals meet with the candidates they place to determine their suitability for various jobs and often provide skills testing and select reference checking. This is time you don’t have to spend on these activities. The best firms also fill a consultative role, helping you develop an effective overall staffing strategy.

No technology, no matter how popular, is a cure-all for your recruiting challenges. It can be an important part of your efforts, but it can’t entirely replace all other recruiting methods.

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Max Messmer is chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, the world's largest specialized staffing firm. He is one of the leading experts on human resources and employment issues.

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