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06 April 2009 6:52am

The recruitment industry is proving slow to take advantage of social media’s low-cost and free opportunities for recruiters to source candidates and brand themselves, according to Adlogic director, Craig Schuetrumpf.

He believes that while there is increasing take-up in the area, recruiters haven’t yet adopted social media, blogs and videos on a large scale because they don’t have time to understand how it works and how it can benefit their business.

“Yet innovation is going to be crucial if agencies want to differentiate their offering and increase their value proposition in this tough market.”

When you start connecting with candidates in places such as Facebook, he says, “you’re reaching a talent pool that your competitors aren’t. A good social media strategy will also help to build relationships, by creating a dialogue with clients and candidates and moving beyond the static, one-way conversation of traditional websites.”

Now the largest social network in the world, “Facebook is great for recruiters because it gives them unparalleled access to potential candidates”, says Thomas Shaw, whose company Recruitment Directory provides advice on social media recruitment strategies.

Recruiters should use the medium to build their brand – company and individual – and to interact socially with potential candidates and clients.

You can notify users of your job opportunities but this shouldn’t be your sole focus, he says. Jobs can easily be posted via multi-job-posting software, or by using the “share” function on many jobsites. “But you’re not just there to sell a product – if you want to do that pay for an ad. It’s not just about posting jobs.”

Shaw says recruiters should use Facebook primarily to build networks and engage in two-way dialogue with other users.

“Use it to engage in conversations with groups that fit your speciality, and add to your market knowledge. Get to know these people. Engaging with them is the first step. You’re there to find out what they’re looking for, and offer support and your expert advice.”

Recruitment companies should set up a business profile page, he says, but individual recruiters should consider setting up separate profiles if they plan to use Facebook for both their work and social networks.

LinkedIn has already proven its worth to many recruiters in the network, Shaw says.

It’s evolving into a digital resume database, he notes, and ATS providers overseas now allow job applicants to apply for jobs using their LinkedIn profile. This makes the process simpler for candidates, he notes, but it also ensures that recruiters’ databases contain up-to-date information instead of static CVs that date quickly.

To get value from LinkedIn, use it to update your network on your activities, he advises. “Let them know what you’re up to. Use feeds, comment and update your status. For example, ‘I have great candidates for ‘X’ roles; contact me’, or ‘I just placed a great candidate a ‘X’ company.

“Use feeds to your advantage. Join groups, add to the discussions, and be seen as an expert in your niche.”

To maximise the value of your network, he says, you should “do a spring clean” and remove unwanted contacts, instead of letting it grow bigger and bigger.

“Once you get to 500 it’s too many,” he says. “How can you maintain that network? A lot of your contacts will be obsolete.”

“Recruiters should use Twitter,” Shaw says. “You can tweet that you’re looking for people and word spreads across the world, to someone who knows someone. It cuts down the six degrees of separation.

“It’s not time-consuming,” he adds. (‘Tweeting’ involves posting a message of up to 140 characters to the ‘twitterverse’.) “It’s part of a branding exercise, not only personal but recruitment branding.”

Using Boolean search strings, recruiters can find candidates in their specialist area and join conversations. “Don’t be afraid to directly engage a professional in your niche. Demonstrate your recruitment expertise and share your wisdom, hints, tips and sites. Build your brand and refer back to your job ads or website – it will increase visits to your site along with referrals and networking. It also shows you can keep up with digital media.”

He advises setting up twitter streams to follow certain people and to invite others to receive your job opportunities via feeds.

Recruiters should also be aware of the power of Twitter as a forum for complaints and its potential use to do background checking on your agency.

But any social media site, he says, can be used to create loyalty to your business, and to have others promote your brand and build business through word-of-mouth.

Get started
Schuetrumpf offers the following advice to recruiters just starting their social media strategy:
Familiarise yourself – make the effort to understand the different media, from social networks through to Twitter. Look for examples of how business is using them effectively – or not;

Start small – begin by signing up to just one social network in the industry you recruit for;

Stay up to date – use, for example, Facebook applications that send job ads to candidates or Twitter and RSS feeds that go straight to their mobile phones or desktops;

Keep it interactive – keep people interested by giving them space to share your views or provide content;

Keep it as a business tool – listen to advice from professionals about how to make social media work as a business tool and not just a place to catch up with friends.


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