Using social media to recruit workers remains a growing practice among businesses. The most recent survey of members of the Society for Human Resource Management on that topic found that most organizations use it for recruitment.
The 2015 survey, which had a 5 percent margin of error, showed that 84 percent of organizations recruit through social media, though only 5 percent said it was their only recruitment tool.
Jeff Luttrell, a member of SHRM’s special expertise panel, and senior director of talent acquisition at Alorica Inc., a business process outsourcing company based in Irvine, California, said using social media is an important part of the recruiter’s toolkit.
“Every company now has openings, for the most part,” said Luttrell as he was traveling for work. “I’m in Tulsa, Oklahoma right now and I can drive down the street and see a dozen places within five minutes that are hiring and pay rates are, for similar type roles, they’re all pretty similar.
“You’ve got to differentiate yourself and social media is a way to do that — to show your company culture and sell it to a potential applicant — because no longer is it the time where you can just put your notice out there and people come to you. You’ve actually got to sell why people need to come to you. And social media is amazing for that.”
For Fallston Group, a global reputation management firm based in Baltimore, Maryland, social media is the first place the company turns when they know they need to hire someone, said Andrea Lynn, the marketing communications manager at the company. The company is active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
“We of course put the posting up on our website, but rather than turn to a recruiter like a larger firm might do, we really try to push it amongst our networks. … It’s a free way to get exposure out there for your name.”
Part of why your organization might want to use social media for recruiting is because it can help attract a candidate who isn’t actively seeking a new job. The SHRM’s survey found that 82 percent of organizations that recruit for social media do it to attract passive job candidates.
“I think it’s a way to really help humanize your business,” said Lynn. “We actually have had people reach out to us interested in working for us because they say ‘wow, this looks like such a fun team and it looks like such a cool place to work,’ purely based off of social media posts.”
If your company is just getting started with recruiting on social media, Luttrell doesn’t recommend trying to use every channel at first.
“Focus in on one and do it really well,” Luttrell advises. “Learn from it, learn from your mistakes and then if you need to add another or want to explore in others you can. Get really good at one because they’re all going to be fairly similar after that.”
When Alorica began using social media for recruitment, it started with Facebook. Each of the company’s locations had a Facebook page, and employees were encouraged to like and share posts. Eventually, Alorica started becoming more sophisticated on the platform, using fee-based features like boosting posts and using some geotargeting (which lets you promote posts within a specified geographic area).
Lynn said Fallston group uses Facebook’s new job posting tool.
“We’ve found that to be highly effective,” said Lynn. “It’s a way that people can see the job description upfront. They can Facebook message us their application immediately and then we can share that posting into some of the employment groups that are available out on Facebook around Baltimore city and beyond.”
The social media platforms you use to promote your workplace can vary based on the users of each platform and the kind of positions you’re trying to recruit for.
For professional positions,
LinkedIn is a good fit, Luttrell said.
“And the cool thing is, you can use a lot of the functionality for free,” he said. “And then, of course, if you have the money in your budget, you can pay to do different things and have your ads out there.”
Fallston Group has also seen success from using the free features of LinkedIn.
“We have seen a tremendous amount of response just by posting on our company page and then sharing onto our individual employee LinkedIn profiles without even having to pay for a promoted job,” Lynn said.
One of the free techniques that Luttrell uses on LinkedIn and Facebook is joining groups. Using the example of needing to hire
someone with expertise in SAP software, Luttrell said he could go into a group that already exists about SAP on LinkedIn and mention that he’s hiring, or he might find a post in the group from someone whose contract is ending and is looking for a new opportunity.
Alorica has also made use of Snapchat at its recruiting events.
“Any size company could buy a Snapchat filter for a day,” Luttrell said, describing the technology that lets users apply special effects to their photos. “ It’s super-cost-
effective and builds excitement. If you’re trying to attract a certain audience that uses Snapchat, it’s definitely a big plus, and there’s all sorts of cool functions on Snapchat where other people can see that you’ve got an event happening at your location.”
Now, the team at Alorica is looking more closely at how use Twitter for recruitment, Luttrell said.
Social media can give your organization a way to learn about potential job candidates based on what they have posted and shared.
“I think it should be standard due diligence for any company to look and see what’s out there when it comes to an applicant’s social media presence,” said Lynn.
Often, the information gleaned from looking at an applicant’s social media habits can provide clues about how that candidate might work as an employee, and how they would fit in to an organization.
“If you are hiring for a communications related position they should have a Twitter presence,” Lynn said. “So it’s usually a good indicator to see even just how active they are on social media, period.”
Lynn described some research she was doing on a person she recently hired, whose Instagram account suggested strong compatibility with the company.
“We’re all foodies here at Fallston Group, and we noticed all of his fun food pictures that told us before we even interviewed him, ‘this is somebody that we might get along with.’ And that might seem like a silly example, but when you’ve got a small team, I think trying to find the right cultural fit is really important.”
In the SHRM survey, 36 percent of organizations disqualified a job candidate in the past year because of information they found in social media or an online search. And 39 percent of organizations allow candidates to explain any concerning information that the search turned up, according to the survey.
When Luttrell speaks to students, he cautions them about the things they post on social media, because some of the information they post could work against them when they’re applying for jobs. It’s not just posts about youthful indiscretions that can haunt an applicant: Lynn related information about someone interested in working for Fallston Group who misspelled the company’s name.
“That gives you a good indication about their attention to detail,” she said. “Little things like that, I think, make a difference.”
Some kinds of information your business finds about job candidates on social media or in online searches can’t be used in making hiring decisions. Because of federal laws against discrimination, as well as any state or local laws that may apply to you, you’d have to disregard any such information you may encounter.
Alorica’s team is well-trained on equal employment opportunity law and protected classes, so they know not to consider that information, Luttrell said.
In face-to-face job interviews, “you don’t ask questions about their race or where they’re from,” Luttrell said. “Those are all protected. So why would you consider any of that when you saw them on social media? That doesn’t matter. It can’t be part of the hiring decision.”
Fallston Group is an equal opportunity employer, so it’s also not looking for that sort of information, Lynn said. “We’re typically looking for red flags and just personality-
Some of the capabilities for targeting messages on social media could get a company into trouble if they’re used in an inappropriate way in recruiting, Luttrell said. “We’re we’re very careful that we don’t put in something that could be seen as discriminatory or a disparate treatment to certain populations.
“Make sure that as you’re setting up any of your targeted messaging on social media that you keep in mind all of those EEO rules and the protected groups.”
Information you may encounter
When recruiting on social media, just as in an in-person interview, you may run into information that you can’t use when making hiring decisions.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal employment laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee on because of any of the following:
sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation)
age (if 40 or older)
Most employers with at least 15 employees (20 in age discrimination cases) are covered by EEOC laws.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
State and Local
There may be additional protected classes, such as veteran status, conviction history, previous compensation, at the state and local level, Luttrell advises. Check with your local governments or an attorney.