By Shelly Anderson
If youre hoping social media will go away, it wont. And dont make the mistake of considering its use as strictly for the under-30 crowd either. Yes, 92 percent of that age group is on Facebook, Twitter and the like, but 57 percent of those 50 to 64 years of age and even 38 percent of those over 65 are also engaged on at least one social network, according to an article on FastCompany.com.
Much of the hiring discussion today centers on the future of recruiting and sourcing, focusing on Twitter, Facebook and other popular social media platforms. Social media is changing the way people interact with each other and employers. According to the CareerXRoads 2013 Source of Hires Report (based on staffing-leadership survey results), hiring-trend projections for 2013 indicate a 17.3 percent increase in hiring of full-time positions in the United States. But before you jump into the social media frenzy to recruit talent, lets consider several key points:
- Without a website, you wont get anywhere.
- Dont jump into the fray thinking social media for employers is cheap.
- Any social media involvement should be based on a social media policy and communications plan.
- Start with the end in mind.
Before You Start the Car
Do you have a website that allows you to establish your organizations online identity? Is it functional? Is it visually appealing, consistent and professionally designed so its a positive experience for the end user?
Since branding begins on your home page, your website is a perfect place to begin recruitment efforts. Branding should be consistent through every possible touch point, so if your careers page differs significantly in feel or layout from other pages on your website, seekers will sense a disconnect.
Here are some essential components to have on your website:
- Offer easy access to end users to your careers link on your home page.
- Maintain your company logo and color schemes throughout the website.
- Restate your core company values or vision statements on your career page.
- Offer clear information on your careers page about current job openings and instructions on applying.
- Identify your employee value proposition. This defines the type of work the candidate will be doing, the environment in which hell be exposed, the management style within the organization, its culture, and the benefits hell receive from being part of your organization.
Social media cant take the place of other forms of sourcing techniques, as youll still need to advertise and drive traffic to your website. Just be sure your communications, brand and online appearance are consistent.
Preparing for the Road Trip
Facebook has trumped the U.S. population with its number of members, and Twitter is growing at an incredible rate. Annual LinkedIn research conducted in 2010 through 2012 show that at any given time, 10 percent to 20 percent of the fully employed workforce is comprised of active candidates seeking new jobs, while 80 percent to 90 percent are passive candidates. As an employer, you should take the time to understand the media, develop a road map that uses each platform to its best advantage, and then experiment.
This includes adopting a social mindset. Recognize its not about your company pushing messages out to an audience; its about engaging in dialogue with your audience, listening to what they have to say and replying in kind. What do you want to say? Where? When? Why? How? Once you answer these questions, you can begin exploring the great unknown, using social media to turn your organization into a source of relevant information and news to attract passive and active candidates. Keeping your recruiting focus in mind, consider what impression a job seeker will have when he views your online presence.
Monitor media to understand whats being said about your company as an employer. Facebook pages, postings, blogs, Twitter comments, YouTube videos and employment reputation sites like glassdoor.com and vault.com as well as forums on websites such as SimplyHired are good places to start.
However, this means that when you hit a road block such as a candidate complaint and other unpredictable behavior you respond authentically, acknowledging when your company makes a mistake or when a candidate just wants to vent. Your goal should be to influence the discussion, not control it.
Free? Dont Forget the Tolls
While the upfront costs of various social media may not appear very expensive, there are very real costs associated with a proper investment. Lets start with the opportunity costs connected to the time you invest in crafting the perfect message to elicit responses. Now count the time needed to respond to the prospects and manage the messaging on the various social media channels. Remember social media is not like broadcast media and is interactive by the very nature of what it is and what makes it so appealing. That interactive connection with prospects should be consistent from media to media so they begin to associate your online presence across platforms.
If not properly handled, social media can backfire with negative or unforeseen results, so make the investment in time to understand the platform on which you are embarking. Make sure to budget enough in terms of resources, staff and money to use social media in a way that returns the most on your investment, as a platform for dialogue with your prospects. Work with legal counsel to ensure you have solid policy that everyone at your company is familiar with and which supports your strategy.
A recent study by Deloitte LLP, a firm that offers auditing, consulting and other services, found only 17 percent of companies surveyed had a program in place dedicated to monitoring social media. Only 22 percent had a formal policy on how employees may or may not use social media.
Hit the Social Media Highway
You have your website up and ready to go. Youve developed your strategy, explored the various sites and have a social media policy in place. Social media platforms are launched and youre revved up and ready to go. Enjoy the ride, but make sure you continue to check the oil.
The effectiveness of your efforts can be measured in many waysby reviewing your site counters, blogging comments and responses, and soliciting feedback from staff you trust as well as impartial colleagues. Be sure you have an idea of how many qualified candidates are applying before you begin this journey and where theyre coming from so you have a benchmark to compare against the number of qualified candidates you receive after all measures are deployed.
Its important to understand that social media and other sources of hire categories arent independent of each other, rather they work together to impact most other sources. In fact, respondents to a recent CareerXRoads survey believe that social media influences, drives or combines with seven out of 11 other sources. This includes referrals, company career sites, job boards, college boards, temp-to-hire and career fairs. You may need to make some adjustments as you analyze the data over several months, but dont move too quickly as you may need to give the campaigns more time to gain traction.
Dont Get Pulled Over
Last but not last, employers must be careful with social media because employment law is really still in its infancy with respect to these platforms. Social media wasnt around when anti-discrimination laws were passed in the 1960s. Unless job applicants have strict settings on their social media accounts, they may routinely broadcast revealing details about their lives including protected characteristics such as race, age, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
Make sure you have legitimate business reasons for looking at any job applicants social media identity, have an established screening and hiring process you follow consistently, and separate any social media inquiry from the hiring process. This means keeping the review of social media pages separate from the person making the final hiring decision, according to an article in "The Daily Circuit."
Today, as you speed down the social media highway, the medium and message can get blurred in ways you may never imagine. However, good people will make all the difference to your companys bottom line and are well worth the investment. Good luck!
Shelly Anderson, CEO of Michaels Wilder, has more than 20 years of experience across multiple human resources disciplines. She has worked within Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 organizations as well as overseas in Australia and Venezuela. Michaels Wilder is a full-service, marketing-communications agency specializing in online marketing, local search advertising, social media marketing, mobile media, brand development, research and consulting, media planning and talent management, with more than 20 years of experience in the self-storage industry. For more information, call 800.423.6468; visit www.michaelswilder.com or its sister division www.s2esolutions.com.