Recruitment using social media : a short how-to guide

Social media in recruitment is so important these days that there is an entire industry dedicated to it. Researching this industry it quickly becomes apparent that success in matching candidates to jobs does not come from posting lists of job vacancies on Twitter, Facebook or blogs. What works is the promotion of vacancies within the context of ongoing conversations within relevant online communities.

Brand building through social media

Recruiters who use social media successfully talk first about brand building. Brand building is just another term for making friends, getting yourself known, building a reputation, or, in social media parlance, building an online community.

Building your online community is the first and most important step in any attempt to leverage the power of social media to recruitment as the interviewee of the following Youtube clip sourced from the website Max McGillvary – Redfox Executive Selection, will attest.

You can watch the clip embedded below, but let me summarise its most important messages

  • It takes up to six months to build up your social media community into an effective channel of communication with your target audience
  • You have to “give, give, give”  – provide useful and interesting information if you want to attract readers to your social media and give them a reason to return and to recommend you to their friends who will likely belong to your target audience too – software engineers know software engineers, right?
  • You should tailor social media to your different audiences including suppliers and end users, or as is the case with recruiters, job candidates and client companies seeking new staff. Max at Redfox has a YouTube channel showing three different types of videos – 1. Promoting company to candidates 2. Promoting company to companies seeking candidates 3. Promoting company to future colleagues
  • Get going on social media now and be at the forefront of developing the go-to LinkedIn group, Twitter account and blog for your industry or niche within an industry. Once you are ahead there should be no catching you. Redfox administer a 1,100 members LinkedIn group dedicated to recruitment for the fresh food industry and is the go to group for recruitment that industry
  • Vary the medium. Keep your social media interesting and dynamic by using all types of media including text, photo, video and audio.

And this is important so let me repeat it





McGillvary says that after the initial six months his company spends just five hours running their social media per week and it has become “part of the normal day to day process” and they can already see the benefits. In the old days (that’s 2006) they paid top dollar for expensive print advertising in national newspapers. Today they reach a larger, more diverse and relevant audience of potential candidates and clients from around the world at practically no expense.

Selling through the brand

Once your brand is built in social media, once you have those online communities, it will become the a direct source of visitors to the company website and searches on the vacancy database. More interestingly once communities are established it will be possible to start promoting vacancies in inventive and more subtle ways in the context of the fabled social media ‘conversation’. The following stories from an excellent article by Jessica Lee and accompanying comments at, provide several interesting illustrations of how conversation in social media communities can successfully link jobseekers to vacancies and square perfectly with my oft repeated mantra “Social media is word of mouth times a million”

Jessica Lee writes

 September 17th, 9:13am. I put out a tweet using my personal account  and it’s pretty harmless. I say I’m going to be looking for some entry level folks interested in health policy/healthcare comms. That’s all I wrote. I didn’t include a link to a job posting. I just made the statement.

September 17th, 1:08pm. I receive an email via Facebook from someone interested in the health policy role. It turns out that her friend follows me on Twitter, saw my tweet and told her about it.

They go to this blog which is linked to my Twitter profile. They find a link to my Facebook account which is linked to on the blog. And then I received the email. And then I asked for her resume.

September 21, 12pm. I did a phone interview with her.

September 23, 12:30pm. She comes in for her first round of in-person interviews.

And then a few more interviews a few days later. Then a final interview. And then I made an offer just a few days after that. She started working for APCO last week and we’re all thrilled to have her on board.

Ben Gotkin recounts a positive LinkedIn story.

At my prior employer, I was handed a job in HR to fill that had been open for several months. We needed someone with OD and Coaching experience, plus they needed to walk on water…

I did a search on LI and found someone who lived locally, but worked in another city. I reached out to see if she was interested in talking, and it turned out that she was. She was commuting long-distance 50% of the time, and that was starting to get old. She was on LI for networking purposes primarily, but she was not actively looking for a job and didn’t have her resume or profile posted anywhere else.

Long story-short, she was perfect. Several months of trying to fill this position via job boards and headhunters had resulted in nothing. One search on LI (a couple years ago when LI was less than half the size it is today I might add), turned up someone that we would not of found otherwise. Needless to say, I’ve been a huge LinkedIn advocate ever since.

Pete Radloff of Recruiting in 3D reports that

We hired our first employee from Twitter about 1 month ago. Considering we started using Twitter in earnest for recruiting in May, it was a huge success.

We had put out some tweets about hiring recent college grads, especially those with a concentration in Advertising or digital media.

I received a tweet from a recent (May 2009) grad, who was in a job that was just a job. She was keen on our company and sent a DM to me. Within 5 minutes, we had shot a few DM’s back and forth and I had her resume.
Long story short, she was the perfect fit, especially since she was so in tune with our business space, and her use of Twitter was a key indicator of her relevance. Just another example of how SM can change the way we recruit.

and Tara Repucci adds

During a client meeting with an HR VP, he mentioned his open Director of Recruitment position. I posted the opportunity as my LinkedIn status. One of my other clients saw it, shared it with an unemployed colleague and the rest is history.
What I love most about the story is that the unemployed colleague is a former client of mine with whom I lost touch. I get to work with him again! He was also about to move out-of-state for a less-than-perfect opportunity after five months of job searching. I feel like I really made a difference in his life, as corny as that may sound.


Do you have any recruitment through social media stories. Why not comment below.

If you work in recruitment and would like help building your brand online, building those all important communities give me a call at 0791 297 9567 or just drop me a line at



About jonhartl

Jon Hartley is a former manager in international online and traditional publishing. He has over 20 years experience in marketing, training, editing, copywriting and translation.Jon Hartley Internet Marketing is a collective of professionals expert in all aspects of internet including design and IT

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