Is Social media a useful recruitment tool and what are the advantages?

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Introduction
With Organisations facing reduced budgets, recruiting the best possible talent is more important than ever. Prospective employees are engaging more with social media (eg: facebook, linked in, twitter etc) which means that Organisations need to include these new channels as part of their overall recruitment campaign.

However, arecent Social Media Audit conducted by ‘Penna Barkers’ found that one in seven organisations believe that social media is a ‘dangerous’ recruitment tool. Their research found that many organisations simply worry about how many other employers have a Facebook page (approximately 44%) or whether they should join the 30% that Tweet.

Having said that using social media needs careful thought before you rush in …for example: what resources are necessary to maintain your presence; and a ‘community management plan’ to deal with visitors, who may wish to post comments or start a discussion, should be factored in too?.

How do I use social media as a recruitment tool?
Before you launch into a using social media as a recruitment tool, it is wise to do some research.

Understand your target audience: Consider who you want to target as part of your recruitment campaign, it is also helpful to understand whatyour target audience currently thinks about the organisation, and what social media channels this audience are actively participating in.
Understand the sites: Once you understand which channels your target audience are actively using, spending some time researching the sites is important, understand what they can do, and what functions are available to help you choose which, if any social media channels you intend to use.
Develop a plan: What do you wish to achieve from these sites: Consider what your organisation would like prospective employees to do in response to the social media efforts. Set firm objectives and develop clear messages you want to be clearly articulated and understood, making sure your social media efforts are aligned with the company image.

Types of Communication available on Social Media Sites
One Way Advertising: Organisations can use social media in a way that is effective, even when not strictly social. Its wide reach and ability to communicate with audiences means that one-way advertising on social channels has become a highly efficient way for many of employers to direct traffic to events or to recruitment websites. The research also highlights a large number of blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages being used to deliver what is in effect a broadcast message – delivered one way to a receiving, not participating, audience.

Two way dialogue: Organisations often believe that just because it is possible to have a two-way conversation, they should. And that’s simply not true. Not only is two-way conversation the most resource intensive and least easy to control for those organisations finding their feet with social media, it is not necessarily the case that candidates themselves are receptive to a two-way exchange with a potential employer prior to the official recruitment process.

The results of the Social Media Audit showed that there are three main catalysts for online conversation: when an audience wants to complain; when they are asked to participate directly (for example, ‘ask us a question’); and when giving feedback. In most cases these are not directly relevant to recruitment.

Other Considerations:
Building and maintaining an online presence through social media is a great way to ensure a wider reach, it ensures potential candidates can find information in places other than the corporate website. However, managing this digital footprint as an employer is important.

The research also found that although 90% of organisations felt that managing their employer reputation online is important, only 38% believe they are able to do this well. Although controversy often reigns when discussing whether companies should look at candidate details online, there are no such qualms when it comes to candidates looking up companies and indeed individual recruiters via social media. A number of recruiters have been surprised by interviewees asking them how their holidays were, but they shouldn’t be.

As with all communications, social media requires an understanding of the audience, the channels and the desired objectives. But unlike other platforms which can be built once and sent live, the ‘always on’ nature of social media requires organisations to also consider the resource needed to maintain a presence.

If all of these considerations are factored in up front, social media offers a whole raft of benefits to organisations, but approach it in a piece-meal fashion and it’s likely that messages will become unclear and target audiences disengaged.

Contact Harwood-HR for advice and assistance with regard to your recruitment plans

Source: HR Magazine, 20 August 2010

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