If you’ve thought about trolling social networking Websites such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to find your next employee or manager, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey from Jump Start Social Media, as many as 75% of hiring managers now use LinkedIn on a regular basis to research candidates before making an offer, with Facebook (used by 48% of managers) and Twitter (26%) following in a close second and third place.
The practice is particularly attractive for small to midsized businesses whose budgets have been curtailed as a result of the economy, and that are searching for cost-effective ways to fill their ranks. “Smaller firms tend to gravitate toward high-value, high return on investment (ROI) practices,” says Dan Finnigan, CEO at Jobvite, an online recruitment platform headquartered in Burlingame, Calif. “They don’t have huge staffing departments, so hiring via social media is a natural fit.”
Leveraging social media as an effective hiring tool may be an attractive choice for companies, but achieving that ROI isn’t always easy. Unlike the simple process of posting job openings on a Website such as CareerBuilder or Monster, and waiting for candidates to “show up,” tracking down qualified employees on Facebook or Twitter requires a more targeted, interactive approach. “This isn’t about posting jobs,” Finnigan says. “It’s about distributing your openings across multiple social networks in a way that allows job seekers to find you.”
Kara Smith, principle and founder at New York-based social media marketing consultancy Karasma Media, suggests companies take a step back and evaluate their hiring needs before jumping into the social networking pool.
Next, determine which online portal(s) make the most sense. An accounting firm looking to hire executives and/or managers, for example, should consider sites like LinkedIn or Ecademy, both of which tout their ability to connect “businesspeople” (as opposed to the general public). On other hand, an event management company looking to round out its stable of laborers should hit up sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
With the number of social networking sites on the rise, firms should also include “niche” sites, or those that target specific industries or groups of people, into their hiring strategy. A few examples include Sphinn, an online forum and networking site for Internet marketing pros; Decorati.com, which focuses on interior design; and Lawyrs.net, which caters to the legal profession.
Once you’ve determined which sites will best meet your firm’s needs, Smith says the next step is to set up a presence by registering and developing a profile and/or business page (depending on what the site itself offers in terms of a “presence”). Be sure to link that page to your firm’s Web site, preferably directly to the page that mentions the open positions and any other content that would be of interest to a potential recruit.