Recruiters "cannot afford to ignore" social media - so what constitutes a valuable strategy on this new frontier?

As companies shift their talent acquisition strategy to social media platforms like TikTok and LinkedIn, how can HR use this new frontier to drive inbound recruitment that builds talent pipelines and accelerates hiring for tough-to-fill roles
HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd
Recruiters
A lack of a dedicated social media recruitment strategy can damage the employer brand

As I sit here now, writing this article for HR Grapevine, it’s thanks to the power of social media recruitment. In November 2023, seeking a new role as an editor for an HR publication, I sent messages to a handful of content directors at industry-renowned publications I’d previously seen on social media, and asked if they were hiring. HR Grapevine’s Head of Content replied and within 96 hours, I’d signed a contract. This is the power of social media talent acquisition.

From #careertok to ‘LinkedIn helped me get this job,’ social media is now an inescapable part of talent acquisition for national and global organisations. Even X – formerly Twitter – has launched a hiring tool allowing premium users to list up to three jobs in their profile.

The data tells us this is because social media has formed a crucial part of the way employees in the UK and beyond seek out their roles. Research collated by Standout CV indicates 79% of UK job seekers, just like me, use social media in some shape or form during their job search. The number jumps for social-media-savvy cohorts such as millennials (86%) or freelancers (91%). This has pushed 91% of employers to use social media as a core part of their recruitment strategy, spending a quarter of their hiring budget on social media.

There has also been a substantial development in the transparency these platforms afford, says Jonathan Jones, former Head of Recruiting at Goldman Sachs, BlackRock and Point72. “They've also allowed jobseekers to gain much greater insight regarding a particular employer's culture, interview process, and so on,” Jones explains. “Consequently, companies who want to recruit successfully cannot afford to ignore their reputation in these sorts of forums.”

However, many employers do not take full advantage of this approach to hiring. The number drops to 45% for recruiters who post content on social media to engage with candidates, and even further for companies taking a truly comprehensive approach to social media recruitment.

Companies who want to recruit successfully cannot afford to ignore their reputation in these sorts of forums

Jonathan Jones | Former Head of Recruiting at Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and Point72

A fully-fledged inbound social media strategy – creating such a strong presence on these platforms that candidates approach the company directly – goes hand-in-hand with modern approaches to talent acquisition such as talent communities and can bring a huge range of benefits from improving employer branding to attracting hard-to-reach candidates. “For employers, it offers a much broader talent pool to potentially fish from, enabling access to passive candidates who may not actively be seeking new opportunities but are open to the right offer,” says a confidential Global Head of Talent Acquisition.

So, what are companies missing and how can HR and talent acquisition leaders curate a truly inbound social media recruitment strategy?

X-ceptional talent acquisition: How to use social media for recruitment

Most employers take a “set it and forget it” approach to social media hiring. No doubt one of your current or past companies will have copied and pasted a job listing onto LinkedIn and barely flicked through the hundreds of applicants that immediately flood in.

It’s unlikely this will generate any meaningful benefits for your company – at least no more than posting the job on a typical job board. It can also be actively harmful to an employer brand. “It's critical for companies who wish to use social media for recruiting to commit to it fully - with respect not only to staffing the effort properly but to having a well designed strategy and policy around how they choose to engage with user content,” argues Jones.

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