Within the past decade or so, social media has become a common fixture in our day-to-day lives. Often, we choose to interact with someone through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn rather than in-person or over the phone. This is part of the reason why social media has become an invaluable tool, as it enables you to efficiently source, digitally connect with, and quickly screen potential candidates. In fact, 94 percent of professional recruiters use at least one social media platform to source, connect or engage with candidates, according to the job publishing tool, BetterTeam

However, even though you may be familiar with various social media platforms, you still need to understand how to effectively use each one. With this knowledge you will be able to source and build a rapport with both passive and active candidates.

Benefits of Incorporating Social Media into your Recruiting

There are nearly 250 million active social media users in the U.S. and each one spends an average of 135 minutes each day on social networking platforms, according to Statista. With a highly engaged pool of candidates, it’s not surprising that 92 percent of recruiters use social media as part of their recruitment process, according to Jobvite’s Recruiter Nation Survey. In addition to the significant pool of potential candidates, social media can provide your recruiting with other benefits, which can include the following:

  • Increases job visibility: Nearly half of all job seekers in the U.S. used social media to search for their most recent job, according to Jobvite’s Job Seeker Nation study. As a recruiter, you can take advantage of the high number of potential candidates using social media by engaging with them as well as posting beneficial content and job openings on the different platforms. This increased exposure can help you reach candidates that you may not otherwise have access to, such as passive candidates.

  • Enables you to narrow the scope of your search and directly target the ideal candidate: In general, there are two main strategies in recruiting: targeting a specific type of candidate and targeting a broad range of potential candidates. Social media enables you to screen candidates and narrow your search through the use of granular searches to better target what would be the ideal candidate for the position.

  • Offers you better insight into potential candidates: Social media can provide a candid look at a candidate that you may not have met yet. With this opportunity, you can see how well they communicate, their temperament, examples of their professional work and whether they’re active in their industry. In addition, this insight into candidates can help you craft more personalized messages, which can help you build rapport.

  • Allows you to connect with passive candidates: Passive candidates are not actively looking for a new opportunity, which is why social media can be a beneficial method of connecting with them. Social media provides a casual, unobtrusive way for you to introduce yourself and the opportunity that you have for them.

Most Popular Social Media Platforms Used for Sourcing

  • LinkedIn: Since its launch nearly two decades ago, LinkedIn has become an essential tool for both recruiters and job seekers. In fact, it is used by 94 percent of recruiters to post jobs, establish professional connections and build rapport with candidates. What’s more, there are an estimated 154 million users in the U.S., which includes 50 percent of all college graduates, according to the Pew Research Center. As the site has become fundamental in the hiring process, it is important that you understand the best practices to ensure that you can effectively source qualified candidates.

    • Write accurate and descriptive job listings: Be concise and provide enough information in a job description to avoid ambiguity. A good practice is to keep descriptions between 700 and 2000 words, as these receive 30 percent more applications, according to Indeed. (For more information about how to write an effective job posting, you can read our best practices article.)

    • Use LinkedIn Advanced Search: This feature enables you to conduct a granular search by selecting specific options for a variety of categories (such as industry, nonprofit interests, seniority level and years of experience) to better refine your search. If you are unsatisfied with the results of your search or if there are too many profiles, you can narrow your search by using Boolean operators. (To learn about Boolean searches, read our brief guide.)

    • Participate in groups: Groups provide you with access to professionals that have the specific background and skill set that you are looking for. Identify a handful of groups that would be most beneficial for your recruiting efforts and begin regularly participating in the discussions. In general, a good practice is to identify specific industry groups or those affiliated with an official organization. Regardless of which groups you join, try to post comments, ask questions, provide answers and share industry news three to five times every day. By actively participating in discussions, you are able to build a rapport with not just potential candidates but professional contacts as well. In addition, if you post frequently, LinkedIn may promote your content—increasing the visibility of your posts.

    • Promote your job postings with Sponsored Jobs: Sponsored Jobs is a pay-per-click feature that places your job postings in front of more relevant candidates—even if they’re not actively searching for a new opportunity. (If you would like more information about how to set up a sponsored job, you can read LinkedIn’s help article.)

  • Facebook: Facebook is the largest social networking site in the world, the world’s third most-visited website and its app, Facebook Messenger, is the top mobile app, according to We Are Social. With its popularity, Facebook has become one of the most popular social recruiting platforms. However, you nevertheless need to know how to effectively use it before you can start to see beneficial results with your recruiting efforts.

    • Conduct granular searches: As there are nearly 2 billion active Facebook users across the globe, identifying those that may be a good fit for a position is made easier with Facebook’s search function. Enter a specific location, profession, educational background or other important criteria, and the site will bring up a list of matching profiles. Even though you can conduct granular searches on Facebook, you may benefit from using Boolean operators to help narrow or expand your results.

    • Create engaging job postings: A traditional job posting would appear too formal and out of place on Facebook. Instead, come up with an elevator pitch that summarizes the type of work the candidate would get to do along with the company culture. For example, a job posting for a graphic designer at a craft brewery may read something like the following,

      “Do you enjoy the artful dance between hops and malt across your palate as you enjoy a cold, refreshing craft beer? Do you believe in the age-old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’? Do you think you can distill the riot of flavors and coquettish subtleties into a single iconic image? If you answered ‘yes’ to all those questions—cheers—you may be Exceptional Craft Brewery material.”

      Additionally, unlike traditional job boards, Facebook allows you to include photos and video as part of your post. Posts with a visual element receive 94 percent more views than posts without, according to research from the Pew Research Center. For that reason, it would benefit you to include a relevant photo or video with each of your posts.

    • Promote your job postings: You can promote your job postings by participating in Facebook groups. Just like with LinkedIn, there are numerous Facebook groups for essentially every interest, city and profession. As Facebook is more casual than LinkedIn, a good practice would be to only participate in groups affiliated with an official organization, such as a university or industry group.

      In addition, you can promote your postings if you have a Facebook Ads Manager account. Promoted postings enable you to target specific candidates by categories, such as location, age, education and interests. You can also create your own customized audience for promoted postings by importing your contact list. (If you would like to learn more about Facebook Ads Manager, you can visit its website.)

    • Communicate with candidates with Facebook Video: Facebook enables you to post live-streaming video that viewers can then comment on. You can use these opportunities to introduce key individuals, give a tour of your client’s organization or give your pitch for the open position. As the video is live, you can interact with users’ questions and comments.

      In addition, similar to Skype, Facebook Video Calling enables you to interact with candidates in real-time through a video call. A video chat can be a more convenient option for you to get to know a candidate before inviting them in for a formal interview. (If you would like more information about Facebook Video Calling, you can visit their help page.)

    • Be diligent in engaging with candidates: Lack of communication is the leading cause of poor candidate experience, according to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder. Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to communicate with candidates and build a rapport with them through posts and Messenger. However, you should try to build a rapport in comments or communities before reaching out via direct message.

      When you’re not communicating with candidates, you can post relevant content (such as industry news and upcoming conferences) in order to establish that you are an expert and trustworthy authority.

  • Twitter: Twitter is one of the most underused social media platforms by recruiters. However, the users that are on Twitter are highly engaged and are 31 percent more likely to remember something that they read or saw on the site, according to research conducted by the social networking platform. You can take advantage of that captive audience by adopting the following beneficial practices:

      • Use advanced search: With Twitter’s advanced search, you are able to search for candidates using specific criteria such as location, keywords, languages and hashtags. Then, you can filter your results by accounts, tweets, videos, photos and news. In addition, you can track specific users’ tweets to get a better understanding of who they are, which can help you write a more personalized tweet or direct message to them. Alternatively, you may want to use Boolean operators to help narrow your search.

      • Create a sourcing list: A Twitter “list” is a collection of accounts, which enables you to only view those specific users’ tweets. Lists can either be private or public. In general, private lists are used to keep track of potential candidates, whereas public lists are more about building a rapport with candidates and piquing their interest. For example, if you were trying to recruit a graphic designer, you may create a public list called “Picassos of Digital Art” or some other title that would flatter their skills. (For more information on how to create a sourcing list, you can visit Twitter’s help article.)

      • Use hashtags effectively: Hashtags are a community driven way to help categorize tweets either by keywords or trending topics. Used effectively, hashtags can help you identify potential candidates or help you promote a job posting. When using hashtags to promote a job opening, keep these guidelines in mind:

        • Use only one or two hashtags in a tweet. In general, a good practice is to include a job title and location.
        • Use either the city’s full name or its abbreviation. For example: #Minneapolis or #MPLS.
        • Use either the general term for an industry, such as #tech, #sportsmedicine and #civilengineering. (In general, industries don’t often have abbreviations. If they do and if they are well known, feel free to use them.)
        • Use the job title, such as #graphicdesigner, #professionalphotographer and #technicalwriter.
        • Consider including #jobhunt, #jobopening or #jobposting to help candidates easily find your tweet.
        • Check to see the history of a hashtag with a hashtag search engine (such as Hashatit.com) to see its popularity and how it’s being used.

    • Consider the character limit before writing a job post: You only have 280 characters to craft a creative and engaging tweet, which may sound like a lot, but in actuality can prove quite challenging. A good practice is to consider each job post tweet as a colorful and engaging one-sentence pitch. For example, an opening for a graphic designer at a craft brewery may read something like the following:

      “Up-and-coming craft brewery is looking for an extraordinary #graphicdesigner that can capture the bombastic hoppy awesomeness that is #craftbeer in a single image. [URL to application page]”

    • Actively interact with users: Tweet between three and five times a day. Your tweets should contain useful information (or links to relevant information), relevant hashtags, and either a photo and video. This helps you establish professional context, so when you approach a passive candidate, you will be seen as a trustworthy authority.

How to Source Passive Candidates with Social Media

Social media enables you to identify potential candidates that may otherwise remain hidden to you, such as passive candidates. These candidates are not necessarily more qualified, more talented or in any way better than candidates that are actively looking for new opportunities, but they do make up 70 percent of the available candidate market, according to LinkedIn. To effectively source passive candidates with social media, consider the following strategies for each platform:

    • LinkedIn: Rather than reaching out to passive candidates on LinkedIn, use the site as a research tool. After you find a promising candidate, use a contact data provider, such as ZoomInfo, to collect their phone number and email address. Then contact them through either of those channels, which can provide a more personal interaction. However, if you do choose to contact a passive candidate on LinkedIn, keep these factors in mind:

      • Keep your message brief (i.e. less than 500 words).
      • Highlight the culture of your client’s organization along with the aspects of the position that the candidate would find the most interesting.
      • Place the responsibility of continuing the conversation on yourself. Let the passive candidate know that if they would like to learn more about your client or the opportunity, you would be willing to discuss it at their—not your—convenience.

  • Facebook: Sourcing passive candidates on Facebook can be cheaper and faster than using LinkedIn or other job boards. One of the site’s strengths is that it enables you to conduct granular searches of its users.

    If you do find a passive candidate, consider whether you should reach out on Facebook or on another platform. Reaching out on Facebook may not be the most effective method, but if you do choose to do so, emphasize that, while this is not typically how you would go about contacting an individual, you have an opportunity they would be a great fit for.

  • Twitter: Twitter can be more of a challenging tool for sourcing passive candidates. However, used correctly, it can be effective. Follow these guidelines when using Twitter to source:

    • Complete your profile, which should have a profile picture, a banner image and a bio. Your bio should provide candidates with a clear summary of who you are and what you do. You may also want to include your email address to provide candidates with a way to reach you other than through Twitter.
    • Search industry-related and location-based hashtags to identify potential candidates.
    • Follow industry leaders, organizations and events, and observe who is liking and retweeting posts. In addition, participate in relevant discussions to help build rapport within those communities.

How an ATS can Help You Source on Social Media

Even if you know how to effectively use social to source candidates, doing so is not always a simple task. That is why, it is important that you use all of the tools available to you, including your applicant tracking system (ATS). Designed to automate the recruiting process as well as dramatically reduce the time-to-hire, your ATS can provide you with an advantage when you source and attract candidates.

The most effective applicant tracking systems are those that offer features to help identify potential candidates and begin a dialogue with them. While each ATS may include different features, the most beneficial include the following:

  • Browser extension: Some ATS providers also offer a browser extension, which you can use to import candidates’ social media profiles into your ATS. These extensions will bring in things like their name, website, profile picture, and email/phone number (if available).

  • Data enrichment: If you’ve found the profile of someone, but you’d like more information, an ATS with data enrichment built in can help you out. Add a candidate by inputting their email address, phone number or Twitter handle. Or, add a company by entering its domain URL. Then, the ATS will autofill the rest of the profile from the information available on the web. This allows you to quickly create a database of potential candidates that you can contact.

  • Job posting: An integration between your ATS and social media accounts means that when you publish a job on your website, the system will automatically post links to the job on your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds, if you so choose. This expands the reach of your postings to more than just your website.

  • Meeting scheduler: Sometimes, it’s easier to make a connection with a potential candidate if you provide them with the ability to schedule a time to talk about the opportunity right away. A meeting scheduler enables you to share a specific URL that provides candidates with all your available times. Once they decide what time would work best for them, the meeting is immediately added to your calendar.

If you’re curious about what features CATS offers that can help with your recruiting, you can view our features page.

Easily Source Candidates with a Tweet, Post or Comment

Across the globe, there are nearly 3 billion social media users. Here in the U.S., nearly half of all job seekers have used social media to search for their most recent job. With so many active users, social media can be an invaluable resourcing tool for recruiters. With the right messaging strategy and formatting, a candidate can be sourced with something as simple as a post.