Online outreach

More employers using social media as a recruiting tool

Posted on Oct 29, 2019 :: Pipeline
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

The hiring process has changed dramatically in the past few years. Businesses looking for workers can no longer just post a listing about an open position and sit back while the resumes roll in.

“You have to change up how you share your job openings,” says Sarah Pantol, HR manager with Flash Inc. in Green Lake. “It’s not just about that job but about the business itself and why someone would want to work here.”

When it comes to job seekers, a recent survey estimated 79 percent use social media in their hunt. That means businesses need to go beyond job websites, such as Indeed, in making their pitch to prospective employees.

“With the job market the way it is, it’s likely you are hiring someone who already has a job. They’re passive job seekers and you need to meet them where they are,” says Chris Riba, a manager with Wipfli LLP’s human capital management group. “Right now, that is social media. You need to develop a post that engages people and makes it easy for them to apply.”

Pantol has found success with using social media to recruit at Flash, a family-owned company specializing in the transportation of dry bulk products on pneumatic trailers and dump trailers. Flash has approximately 135 employees in seven states, so it’s key to come up with messages that connect with prospective applicants from different backgrounds.

“However we promote our openings — and it depends on the market we’re in — we need to be consistent,” Pantol says. “We can post something on Indeed or Facebook, or in some markets in places without reliable wireless coverage, we use newspapers. It’s all about having a basket of tools to choose from and knowing your market.”

Businesses right now seem to have more success with attracting employees through regular Facebook posts versus an official LinkedIn posting or on Facebook Jobs, Riba says.

“People are just scrolling by and happen to see your message and get pulled in,” he says. “You can do a lot with targeted, promoted posts to reach the audience you’re looking for.”

As for concern that using Facebook to find employees will limit the job applicants to millennials, Riba says that’s a fallacy. “I’ve had organizations use Facebook after trying other methods and not getting anything, and with Facebook, they get responses from workers of all ages. Being on social media isn’t just for the young,” he says.

The hiring process should be guided by both human resources and marketing departments, says Melinda Morella-Olson, director of strategic engagement for Imaginasium in Green Bay. The HR department knows what positions need to be filled and the necessary qualifications, while the marketing department can put together the best message and develop a plan to reach the most people, she says.

“The HR and marketing departments need to be in alignment, and it needs to be consistent,” Morella-Olson says. “The hardest thing for businesses is to not blast out, ‘We have jobs, come work for us,’ since that’s really not going to get what you’re looking for.”

She says businesses need to do the hard work and develop a value proposition for prospective employees. “Why would someone want to work for you? Is it the wages, the benefits, the stability? No, those things are table stakes and you need to take it further and differentiate yourself as an employer of choice. You need to figure that out before you put out the message that you’re hiring. Otherwise, you could be wasting a lot of time.”

Videos are a key part of that message. Riba says more businesses are investing in producing videos featuring current employees to promote the company and its job opportunities.

“Your current employees are your best recruiters. Putting together a short video where employees talk about why they like working for you can say a lot, especially to those passive job seekers,” he says. “The other key thing is to make it easy for people to apply for a job with a couple of clicks. If you make it too hard, they may be turned off.”

Morella-Olson says the marketing rule that “you need to touch someone seven times with a message for it to sink in” also applies when it comes to attracting employees. “(Putting together a solid plan) is something that takes time, but the worker shortage isn’t going away anytime soon.”

Riba echoes the comment, adding that 2025-2026 is when the number of available workers is expected to reach its lowest point based on demographic information before slowly increasing. “You need to plan for the long term and get down that message about why prospective workers should leave where they are currently and join you.”

Once you attract people interested in your business, Pantol says it’s important to respond quickly so they don’t lose interest.

“The employer brand is so important, as is being responsive. It shows you care,” she says. “For us, we have a response plan for Facebook in place. There are three different layers to make sure messages are responded to in a timely manner. It really shows that commitment from the business and something employees can expect once they are on board.”

Texting with candidates?

Whether it’s because employers want to show their responsiveness or are looking to be hip, more businesses are exploring the option of texting with their job candidates. Since people are more inclined to read and respond to their texts, it is seen as a better way than email to connect on setting up or confirming an interview time or other time-sensitive messages (even if the text asks the person to check their email for more information). Experts say that before you adopt such a program, make sure you allow candidates the ability to opt in and that you initially identify yourself and keep messages short.