Use Social Media to Screen Applicants? Why Not to Recruit?

There appears to be a huge disparity between the use of social media to evaluate an applicants's suitability and the use of social media to attract suitable candidates.

Another call for managers to use social media as a recruitment tool.

Jobvite's 2015 Social Recruitment Survey found that 60% of recruiters never used social media to identify candidates - and that 54% of those didn't plan to use it at any point in the future. The last major report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in 2012 found that as little as 3% of British businesses were using social media to recruit (see point 3.1).

Yet a 2015 CareerBuilder survey found that 52% of employers screen potential hires using social media and that a further 10% planned to do so. A joint survey this year from Monster and YouGov put that figure at 56%.

So here's a question: if the majority of businesses are screening using social media profiles then what do you think the majority of employees are doing?

We have been talking about the benefits of blogging and social media for a while now: to attract candidates by showing them what it's like to work for you; to build a network of potential hires; by showing people what interests or motivates you; or even by convincing those 'hard to get' people that can transform your business to pay attention.

So here's another call for employers to use social media to help recruit.

Change can be difficult, and a fear of 'the new' is common, so let's start by dealing with the major stumbling blocks.

Excuses people make to not give social media a try

What's all the fuss about?

Imagine a continuous networking event where you can listen to as many people as you want at the same time, never miss (or forget) a word they say, and ask them questions directly - no matter how many people are talking at once. That report they mentioned? Go back and grab a copy after the event without needing to ask. That point they made earlier on that has only just assumed significance? Go back and ask them a follow-up question any time you want; their reply will be waiting for you when you have time to check it out. THAT's what all the fuss is about.

What's wrong with email?

First, social media isn't meant to replace email, but it is better than email for faster-moving conversations between two or more people. Second, email only goes to the people you send it to. The point about social media is forging NEW relationships.

Isn't this just for young people?

No. Growing up with new technology does makes it easier to understand, but social media really isn't rocket science, and has even been shown to be beneficial to the elderly - because it made them feel more connected to others. The latest data for the UK reveals that the majority of Facebook users are over thirty, with more users over forty than between twenty and twenty-nine.

I don't understand how it works / it's too difficult

If vulnerable seniors can get their heads round it, surely you can too! None of the big social media websites would be as ubiquitous as they are today if they were hard to use. If you get stuck on any issue then you can either search (there is no shortage of step by step guides or video tutorials online) or even ask your friends/contacts within the social media site you're using.

I / we don't have the time

Social media is a very convenient way to share and receive business information and make new business contacts. A strong social media network can benefit your bottom line in many different ways - just one of them is by attracting people who might improve your profits. Does that sound like something worth making time for?

I don't pay my employees to chat online

Nor do you pay them to phone or email their friends, but no-one is questioning the value of the telephone and email in the workplace - at least not these days. It's better to think of this as 'working out loud' or 'networking while you work'. Remember that everything that happens on social media is public. You don't even need to get directly involved yourself to see what's going on; just have your employees as contacts.

My business isn't right for social media / people won't be interested

No matter what your business, these days your customers, employees, potential employees and competitors most certainly ALL ARE on social media. They could be on some or all of the well known websites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or YouTube), or maybe they're on smaller niche-specific sites, but they will be out there somewhere. Individual social media websites will come and go, but the concept is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

I wouldn't know what to say

First, look at what others are discussing. Can you join in, either as yourself or as your business? Then do! Your actions will show people what you're like, and what it's like to work with or for you. If you want to feature your business then what are you working on personally? What is your business working on? Have you got a new member of staff? Can you share some valuable experience or knowledge? Whatever it is, put it out there and see what happens. Just remember that you learn by asking and by listening - the real value is in interaction. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

By now we hope that you're persuaded to give social media a try. There's all sort of information out there about maximising the impact your activity can have on your business (from when to post, how often to post, the language to use, whether to use images or not and so much more) but we think it's far better to just get stuck in and worry about the details once you have some experience under your belt. So here's a few basic pointers for beginners.

Social media myths

You DON'T need to post something yourself every day

We'd advise that you check in every day to see if there's an interesting discussion that you could get involved in, but that doesn't mean you have to make a post of your own every day. Only post when you actually have something to say, and not for the sake of it. Be the signal, not the noise.

You DON'T need to be on every major social media website

Don't spread yourself too thin, especially if you're new to this. What would we recommend? Anyone looking for a job these days should be on LinkedIn. Some people will be on Twitter; many will be on Facebook. Try a few different ones and see what works for you.

You DON'T need to be 100% professional 100% of the time

Most candidates want their work to be interesting, challenging and rewarding - but they also want to have fun and enjoy themselves. We've long known that laughter is healthy, and it's finally beginning to be being widely accepted that playful behaviour improves both creativity and productivity. So be sure to show some personality.

And, while we're at it, please do assume the best from your potential candidates. Judging people by what they get up to in their spare time is not fair to them, and could see you miss out on some committed and talented employees.