Social recruitment:
5 easy steps to find your next hire online

Kevin Blair

Posted by Kevin Blair


Hiring the best talent is one of the most mission-critical challenges all companies face. But finding that talent can be expensive, time-consuming and stressful.

That’s why more and more companies are turning to social media to help find their next employee. In fact, more than 90% of recruiters are using social media to find, source and connect with talented candidates.

It makes sense: social media makes it easy to connect with a huge number of potential candidates. Over 1.4 billion people across the world use social networks, with the highest percentage of users aged between 25-34. As well as being a good place to find recruits, having a social presence makes your company more attractive to younger candidates, who today expect to be able to conduct all their business relationships online.

It’s also a low-cost avenue, often costing nothing more than your time. And there are no geographic barriers – you can discover a potential candidate in Cape Town as easily as Cologne or Croydon.

You can use social to find specific candidates, to drive people to your hiring pages or to start building relationships even before positions are available.

One thing social should not be used for is harvesting as many CVs as possible. It’s best used to interact with your potential candidates; watching how they behave in social channels; learning more about them than you ever could from a résumé. And it’s often used as a complimentary channel to existing and traditional sourcing methods. Ultimately, it’s about saving you time, energy and money interviewing the wrong people.

When used right, social is a powerful tool that could speed up the process of finding your next hire.

The best recruits tend to come via recommendation – after all, 'it's who you know'. And, today, social media has greatly expanded the pool of people it’s possible to know. So, how do you use it to help you win the war for talent?

Here are our 5 steps for social-recruitment success:

1: Pick the right network

The most obvious places to start are the big three: LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook. However, for some positions, it’s worth checking out more specialist networks – eg Behance for creative people; Xing for mainland Europeans; Github for technical people. The more focused you can be, the more likely you are to find the right person. Using a social listening tool like Radian6 can make it easy to find the right networks and track relevant activity on them.

2: Tap your personal network

Two out of three professionals have a LinkedIn account, which is why it should be your first stop. Start by looking at the people you rate personally. Look at their connections; see who they’ve worked with in the past, check out their recommendations – the perfect candidate could be just one connection away. Post details about your opening in your own status, as well as on your LinkedIn company page and in the jobs sections of the LinkedIn groups you belong to. The trick is to get your network to work for you. Don’t forget to check who’s looked at your LinkedIn profile recently and look back – the ideal candidate might be doing his or her own research.

Of course, your network includes the readers of your blog. Use it to promote job openings and you’re talking to people who already engage with your company. We did it for also ourselves on this blog post – including an infographic showing the benefits of working at

3: Check out your competitors’ employees

It’s surprisingly simple to find people already working for your competitors. By using the advance search on LinkedIn you can see who is working for companies in your sector and living in the right part of the world. Check what groups they belong to and join those groups – that could open up access to even more potential candidates (passive candidates won’t be looking in the job ads and recruiter pages). It may be that you’re already connected through someone else in your network, so you can simply send an invite. The same can be done with a simple search on Twitter. And because Twitter is an open forum, you can start to follow them without them having to accept an invite.

4: Going deeper

Once you’ve identified the people who match your perfect candidate profile, it’s time to find out more about them. It’s not stalking; it’s just taking a look at how they present themselves in a public forum. If they’re on Twitter, who they follow and what they post will reveal a huge amount. Likewise, if they have a personal blog. You can also check for any LinkedIn groups and blogs they follow and comment on. All of this information is public and will help build a clear picture of whether they’re the right fit for your company, both in terms of skills and personality.

5: Making contact

Now you’ve got to know more about your potential candidates, draw up a long list of people who might fit the bill and start making contact. You can start by connecting with them on LinkedIn, friending them on Facebook or following them on Twitter. If they connect in turn, you can then use InMail in LinkedIn or Direct Messages on Twitter to make direct – and private – contact. Be discrete about making contact in a public forum. If their current employers see they’re chatting with you, it could raise some eyebrows.

Now that you’ve connected, you can essentially begin to interview before even getting to the interview stage, speeding up the process and saving you time interviewing the wrong people.

The bottom line: you can’t ignore social media in today’s competitive talent race. And you can be sure that your competitors aren’t ignoring it either. Get out there and start listening, searching and engaging in the right social channels and you’ll spend less time, money and energy finding the perfect candidates.

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