It’s been too long. It’s been too long since this recession started, and it’s been too long since the market experienced any significant job growth. Finally, companies are starting to hire again. And that is very good to see. A lot has changed, however, since the economy showed the first signs of cracking early in 2008, and the process of recruiting and hiring isn’t what it used to be.
Four years ago Twitter was in its infancy, and Facebook and LinkedIn weren’t exactly household names. In fact, social media was still a relatively new concept that some of the most tech savvy were still trying to grasp. Fast-forward to today — social media is an instrumental tool in the recruiting and hiring process. Sixty-five percent of adults who are active online access social media sites — that has doubled since 2008. And 73 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 say social networks led to their current job. Obviously, hiring companies are using social networks too — 89 percent of U.S. companies said they would use social networks for recruiting in the future.
While those statistics are impressive, they aren’t really that surprising. Social networks are about connecting people, whether through words, pictures, friends, interests or experiences. It’s only natural that those networks would be connecting job seekers to companies looking for qualified job candidates. But how does a company that’s been hunkered down for the past few years catch up?
Most experts agree that LinkedIn is the greatest resource for recruiters. While companies use Facebook and Twitter to cultivate a community of friends and followers, more than 85 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent. Specialized recruiting tools allow hiring companies to post jobs and view potential candidates’ online resumes. Recruiters can also target their search toward specific skill sets, professional groups or industries.
LinkedIn also provides companies and job seekers a safe place to connect. Through online dialogue options, companies can screen potential candidates, thus limiting the number of interviews it ultimately conducts, and job seekers can discretely communicate with a hiring company without jeopardizing a current position. If you don’t think your employees would do this, you might want to remove those rose-colored shades you’re wearing.
The king of social networks, Facebook, can play a significant role in professional networking and recruiting, as well. Hiring companies should capitalize on their Facebook presence by maintaining a current and compelling company profile and consistently posting job openings on their page. Fans who already “like” the company will be among the most eager to work there. Facebook’s Marketplace also allows companies to post free job ads targeting specific audiences. For example, if hiring an entry-level position, a company can direct its job posting to reach recent college graduates.
Even with its 140-character tweet limit, Twitter can be a powerful recruiting tool as well. The simplest way to use Twitter is to tweet job openings: “Hiring a marketing manager in Houston. Competitive pay, great benefits. Apply at (your.URL).” If companies have a Twitter account, but not a lot of followers, they can run a quick Twitter search for specific keywords, such as “natural gas,” to find and initiate a dialogue with people who are already talking about their industry and its related products and services.
Because there is no significant cost to join social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, smaller companies can experiment by recruiting through them with little risk. Even a LinkedIn account with all the recruiting bells and whistles can cost less than some ads and is far less time intensive to manage than staffing a job fair. And using social networks demonstrates to job candidates that, despite its size, a company is progressive.
Most important, though, a company’s recruiting efforts should be designed to yield the best, most qualified job candidates. Where is a hiring company going to find its next batch of topnotch employees? The reality is that today’s most savvy job seekers will be using social media to find their next position.
John Allen is president and COO of Houston-based G&A Partners, gnapartners.com.