This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.
The goal of recruiting is to find the right person at the right time. Logically, that means one source is never enough. You’ll want to tap into diverse mediums to find the best candidates. Social media is no exception. Each platform has its own unique demographic. You’ll want to consider that audience when making the decision about which applications to use for your recruiting efforts.
Regardless of the application, there are some common elements to using social media for recruiting. Here are six things to consider when using any social media application for recruiting.
1. Create an Online Presence That Reflects Who You Are
Having a nice avatar, succinct bio and current contact information will make people want to connect with you. Be sure to organize your social media profiles to provide potential contacts with a better idea of who you are so they have a reason to communicate with you and form a relationship.
“It’s about being human”, explains Bill Boorman, author of the Recruiting Unblog. “People connect with people, not brands. Connect with everyone because you never know who will make that referral or connection for you.”
2. Make the Most of Your Time
A large part of any success with social media is involvement. This is especially true if you want to use social media for recruiting. While mobile applications can help with this, Boorman agrees, “It takes a big investment of time to build a talent community.” To target your efforts, he suggests asking people directly which channels they use and looking at what your competitors are doing. “Consider directing your messages to a single point, like a relevant blog or company website.”
3. Individualize Your Approach
At some point, you have to connect with people you don’t know and become a part of their conversations. “I actually find it easy,” says Chris Havrilla national recruiting manager for Hitachi Consulting, a global leader in delivering business and IT strategies. “I have found if you communicate with people in a meaningful and thoughtful manner, you can never go wrong.”
Havrilla’s approach is to connect with people who have a genuine interest in his business and industry. “I follow or connect with people related to that space, ‘listen’ to and learn from the conversations, and participate when appropriate. If you are connecting with someone directly, be ‘individualized’ in your approach — take the time to understand who you are reaching out to and be respectful of their time and attention.”
4. Be Authentic
Recruiters always want to see the ‘real candidate’ and in order to do that, they have to be real as well. Amanda Hite, founder and CEO of Talent Revolution Inc., says when it comes to social media: “Remember it’s NOT about the tools it’s ALL about the relationships.”
So don’t be afraid to be yourself. Hite adds, “Being the authentic, unapologetic you is totally on trend. But more importantly when you embrace your own authenticity and stay committed to ‘being you’ no matter what, you’ll attract the kind of clients and employees that do the same and are the best match for you.”
5. Share Interesting Stuff
All work and no play is boring. So sharing news, tidbits, etc. of general interest can create what might be the equivalent of “social media small talk,” which leads to bigger conversations. Sylvia Dahlby works for SmartSearch, a leading talent acquisition system and recruiting business software solution firm. She works from home and lives in Hawaii. “Before social network sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, I belonged to dozens of old-style online newsgroups. Now, I leverage the new social networks much in the same way,” Sylvia explains it’s still important to interact with others.
One of the things Sylvia mentioned was her Twitter account because she mixes her recruiting knowledge with Hawaii tidbits. “My Twitter account is for personal branding and making connections. I mostly tweet about my work, my product and the recruiting industry during business hours, chat with friends and business associates throughout the day, and throw in a mix of my hobbies and certain interests (such as Hawaiiana). I treat Twitter as my office ‘water cooler’ or after-hours ‘cocktail party’ where I can catch the news and buzz from people in various online communities around the world.”
6. Focus on Substance
If someone directs a question at you via social media, find a way to respond, even if it’s to take the conversation offline. “The key is substance,” says Steve Browne, executive director of human resources for LaRosa’s Inc., a Cincinnati based regional pizzeria with 63 locations. “I’d recommend people using social media for recruiting [focused] on substance and not just resume information. Look at how the candidate is connected in the social media arena, and are they contributing to their profession, or just lurking. If they’re engaged online, chances are they would be engaged working for your company.”
Many recruiters realize that when it comes to recruiting, social media tools are just that – tools. The real value is in how the tools are used. Havrilla explains, “Social media can give you a great and efficient way to engage with your community – candidates, clients, customers, partners, prospects, etc. – on a very level playing field with the companies you are competing with for talent (or business). The key is to make sure you have the time to invest in to it. At a very basic level this is all about networking. The use of social media tools has greatly enhanced my ability to build, grow, and nurture my network. These tools are not a magic bullet though — to get value from your network, you have to add value to it.”
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