Some people are still skeptical about social media recruiting, though I can’t figure out why. The success stories on both companies and individuals finding their dream match through a social media recruitment campaign keep rolling in. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other emerging platforms are being used by job seekers to network and plan their next career move. With the transparency inherent in social media, employers can learn about candidates like never before. Unlike a resume, social platforms can give you acomprehensive picture of whom you’re hiring.

There’s no question that social media is changing the way business works — and the trend goes well beyond marketing. Savvy companies are looking to social media trends to assist with their recruiting and hiring.

One of the easiest ways to use social media for recruiting is to review an applicant’s own public postings and accounts, providing a better picture of him or her as a potential employee. But be careful. Once you review a candidate’s online profile, a court will assume you are aware of that person’s “protected characteristics” that are often part of their online postings.

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These characteristics include gender and race as well as those that are not always evident in a face-to-face interview such as religion, age, sexual orientation or disability. In such cases employers need to be particularly careful not to expand their interview questions or decision-making beyond legal interview limits.

Social media also allows for connections with candidates in a more personal and engaging manner. Social media can be used to form relationships with candidates and create an outlet of communication that may have not have been available before, but remember that communication like this goes both ways.

You should focus first on creating a ‘human face’ for your brand to create real-time conversations with candidates and be authentic as possible. Show the true benefits of connecting with your company’s accounts and make it a personal experience for candidates

It’s important to remember that a social media recruiting strategy will become a two-way conversation between the company and potential hires. Unlike traditional media or advertising, the goal is to create a conversation with potential candidates, not just push content to them.

How to Get Started

One of the most common questions that people who are new to social media ask is, “What do I talk about?”

The things that make for good conversation online are the same things that make for good conversation in real life:

  • Don’t just talk about yourself.
  • Ask a lot of questions.
  • Tell stories.
  • Share interesting news and useful insights.

Think about the most interesting conversationalist you know. She probably asks a lot of questions. She’s funny and personable. She shares interesting information about lots of other people and things.

She doesn’t just talk about herself (chances are, she rarely talks about herself).

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • A-Day-in-the-Life.What’s it like to work at your organization? Give people an inside glimpse. Share interviews with your employees, tours of the building, and team profiles.
  • Insights into your Culture.What makes your company culture unique? Are you a training and development leader? Are you a fun place to work? Let people know!
  • Industry News. What’s going on in your industry? The people that you want to work at your organization are likely interested in this information.
  • Community News. What’s going on in the community where your organization is located?
  • How-To Information. How to write a killer resume. How to nail an interview. How to become a better leader. Share information that will help people be more successful in your organization.
  • Ask Your Audience Questions. What’s their best interview tip? How do they hope to become a better employee or more effective leader? What’s one thing they want to know about your organization?
  • Job Openings. Don’t forget that this is ultimately a recruiting tool. Have a job opening? Let people know about it.

The Catch

Here it is: This doesn’t work if your culture sucks.

If your organization isn’t a good place to work, Social Media won’t make it one. Fix your culture first. Then think about Social Media Hiring.

Another quick word of warning: Like all things worth doing, you’ll get out of this what you put into it.

Learning how to use social media tools isn’t complicated. But it does take time and consistency. It also takes a willingness to experiment until you find out what works for you and the people you’re trying to engage.