The Sink or Swim Social Recruiting Reality Check

What a difference six years makes. Or doesn’t make. At least when we’re swimming in the parallel pools of social marketing and social recruiting.

When you dive into those social pools with me, you’ll find that way back in the latter half of 2009 there were about six million monthly Twitter users. Back then I worked for HRmarketer and wrote one of the first social media marketing guides for the HR and recruiting technology marketplace titled Conversation Starters: Social Media Marketing in the HR Marketplace. You can actually still download it. Right on.

It was a pretty comprehensive undertaking back in the day. I was proud of it, HRmarketer was proud of it. And if I recall the overall feedback was positive – at least for the 12 people who read it. I gest, there were a few more than 12 thankfully, but either way at the time it seemed to be a valuable resource.

I reminisce now because my friend Mark Willaman, the founder of HRmarketer and fisher VISTA (the agency side of the business I helped launch), reached out to me recently to talk social marketing shop, and it got me thinking about all the work we had done together how the market has changed (or hasn’t changed) when it comes to social. By the way, they’ve got a great social listening tool called Insight.

Today there are over 300 million monthly Twitter users – that’s almost a 5000 percent increase. I’ve reaped the benefits of social marketing over the past six years, including growing the TalentCulture #TChat Show audience with Meghan M. Biro, but the pH balance of the social recruiting pool is off.

Sure, many of us have seen research that shows the prevalence of social recruiting practices on the employer side. In fact, an forthcoming Dice survey, 9 out of 10 recruiters are using social media in talent acquisition. The same research shows that social media has improved or is greatly improving tech recruiting results including quality of candidates, referrals and time-to-hire.

Yes, social has become the tool for promoting jobs, building brands, sourcing candidates, creating relationships, and vetting applicants. Jump on in. Two recent powerhouse recruiter guests on the TalentCulture #TChat Show – Stacy Zapar, Founder of Tenfold, and recruiting strategist, trainer and advisor; and Allison Kruse, Senior Manager of Social Media and Talent Acquisition at Kforce – concur that the business value is there. They both agreed that:

As far as asking for a financial investment, there’s a lot of things that we can do for free on social; it’s just going to take an investment of time, effort and training (which isn’t exactly free, but still). The return comes down to knowing where you should use social for the candidates you’re targeting how we are all treating candidates, when it comes to messaging and engaging with them online. It doesn’t really matter what social media site it is – it’s “social” media. Keep the social there, treat people with respect, treat candidates with respect.

Social has enabled us to have exponentially wider reach but be infinitely more targeted within that population, so it’s the best of all worlds. This is something that social has enabled us to do, and we can do our homework and we can craft custom messages to our audience because we’re able to learn about them through all of their social codes. So, social is a fabulous tool and a way for us to create a great candidate experience and be much more efficient with our time and just yield better results, period.

Absolutely. I’m all about improving candidate experience. Forthcoming 2015 Talent Boardcandidate experience research confirms that social recruiting has been growing on the employer side over the past few years.

For employers, the following are considering “differentiating” when it comes to engaging job seekers prior to applying:

  • LinkedIn Pages (Job/Career Specific) – 56%
  • LinkedIn Groups (Job/Career Specific) – 37%
  • Twitter Feeds/Notifications (Job/Career Specific) – 32%
  • Facebook Pages (Job/Career Specific) – 24%

But what about for job seekers? Where are they researching via social prior to applying?

Across industries, they’re going here:

  • LinkedIn Career Page(s) – 30%
  • Online Groups (LinkedIn, Yahoo, Google+, Other) – 26%
  • Employer Reviews (Glassdoor, Vault, Great Rated!) – 24%

Makes sense. But here’s where the social recruiting pool goes cold:

  • Facebook Career Page(s) – 5%
  • Twitter Feeds/Notifications – 2%

Not much seeker swimming going on in the Twitter pool, you know? And it doesn’t improve when you look at the differences between internal recruiters who reached out directly or if job seekers are doing their own research. Nor have the numbers improved over the past few years Talent Board has been doing this recruiting candidate experience research.

That doesn’t mean there’s not value in making a social listening investment, and then working with your talent acquisition teams to develop targeted social recruiting campaigns that are measurable and repeatable for where those candidate populations are swimming (and seeking, even if they don’t know it yet).

But those savvy social recruiters (and marketers) who are succeeding are also keeping this sink or swim social recruiting check in mind. Now tweet that fives times fast.