Social Recruiting: Focus On Engagement Rather Than Promotion

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With the mass adoption of social media, the recruiting arsenal is far broader than ever before. The number of tools and approaches available to recruiters to attract candidates has ballooned – as has the conjecture about the most effective routes to hiring in our socially networked world.

What is increasingly clear is that some recruiters get Social Recruiting – and others really don’t get it at all.

The good news is there is a simple litmus test you can take. Simply look at the current ways you are using social media in your hiring strategy and ask yourself this:

  •  What proportion of your social media use is aimed at engaging potential hires, informing people about you as an employer and interacting with candidates as they consider applying for – and joining – your company?
  • What proportion of your social media use is actually advertising jobs, shouting about your vacancies, calling out to people to apply?

In the first article in this series, we defined Social Recruiting as being those activities that put interaction and engagement with candidates as a primary strategic goal of the company. This opens up the possibility of candidates being able to interact with a prospective employer before, during and after the candidate selection process has taken place. It places the emphasis firmly on befriending people, building up trust and enthusiasm towards your company – and thereby securing interest and applications from candidates who otherwise might not have considered your company at all.

Now look back at the litmus test above. It should be self-evident that any recruiter simply pushing out job adverts on social media is actually not doing anything that different from before. They’ve just taken this new media and used it as a channel to push out the same old job adverts they’ve always promoted. There’s no attempt at engaging with a whole new audience of prospective (but as yet unengaged) candidates. There’s no pretence that candidates can now interact with the business where previously they could not – or indeed that such interaction would be welcomed. It’s rather a case of “business as usual”.

The recruiters really carving out competitive advantage for their organisations are those recruiters who have instead grabbed social media as a way of talking to candidates and engaging with them as much as possible. To salespeople, this is of course the holy grail. The more conversations one has with quality prospects, the more one has the chance to inform about the offer, to understand what motivates the prospect, to overcome their objections… and to solidify their decision to buy.

Recruiting is no different.

Social media has given recruiters the tools to be able to converse with talent en masse. To influence. To inform. To engage. To persuade.

Those who have grasped these possibilities are building up followings of intrigued – and often devoted – advocates and candidates. People who increasingly aspire to join the business. People who may also evangelise about the products and services the company has to offer and who will speak warmly about the company as a prospective employer. The truth is that you have to give to get in social media – and social recruiting is no different.

Going head to head against such a recruiter with a simple promotional feed of jobs is like pitting a caveman with a spear against a modern day soldier. The only explanation is that many recruiters simply don’t understand they’ve left themselves at such a disadvantage.
So take away this key message. If you will focus on engagement – rather than promotion – then you’ll leave yourself well positioned for success in social recruiting. You’ll also find it a more rewarding way to spend your working day.

Tony Restell
This monthly Social Recruiting column is contributed by Tony Restell. Tony is the Founder of and a respected commentator in the online recruitment and social media sectors. A published author and Cambridge graduate, Tony spent his early career in strategy consulting before going on to build and sell an online recruitment business to Jobsite. He is focused on helping candidates and recruiters use social media to find their next career or their next hire. +Tony Restell
Tony Restell


Social Media Marketing for Recruiters is my area of specialism | Follow for tips + insights that'll help both Recruiters + Jobseekers | #SocialRecruiting
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Tony Restell
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  1. says

    Tony – this is such a spot on post, I will recommend that every recruiter I know reads it!  As an open networker, I naturally have a lot of LinkedIn connections who are recruiters.  Who seem to be the noisiest people hogging the status updates with their “marketing” blasts?  Recruiters!  They should listen to you and learn from the master: Engagement is social media is the only effective way to use it and the “spray and pray” approach used by some recruiters is very similar to how many internet marketers incorrectly use social media.

    • says

      Thanks for the positive feedback Neal. I’ve also seen the behaviour you describe on LinkedIn. On Twitter too there’s a similar difference in behaviour between those recruiters who “get it” and those who see it simply as another advertising channel. Hopefully with time and education the majority of recruiters will see the light in terms of how best to generate results via social media.

  2. says

    Great piece, thanks Tony. 
    I agree! These days, building an employer brand has never been more important for HR managers trying to minimise turnover and achieve productivity targets. The right staff profile is critical to developing a committed, stable and high performing workforce.
    It’s actually not ok to ignore the impact social recruiting will have on HR. Social recruiting is not a nice to have initiative that sits alongside other recruiting efforts. Done well, it will replace traditional channel spend and create a regular flow of potential employees to your organisation. 

    It’s something we’ve been offering where I work at a small PR/marketing firm for some time now and we’ve had some great success working in conjunction with HR teams. Feel free to take a look a a case study or two >>


  3. says

    Thanks for the positive feedback Katherine – and great case study link! So many recruiters haven’t fully understood how best to leverage social, it’s refreshing to see a team that’s really making it the core of their recruitment strategy.

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