Recruiting Top Talent in the Age of Social Media

x This post was originally written for the American Society for Training & Development website. Read it there.

social-media-iconSocial recruiting is no longer something for the future—it is here today and is already playing an important role, given the explosive growth of social media trends. The rise in adoption of social media, especially by active job searchers, presents new opportunities and challenges for talent management professionals. More than ever before, organizations need a global social recruiting presence if they expect to succeed in a world that is digitally connected.

Social recruiting has become a top priority for nearly every talent management professional—and for very good reason. Just a few years ago, building online relationships with top talent was considered a competitive advantage—a recruiting differentiator—against other digitally savvy companies. Today, it is more often considered a necessary business requirement for effectively acquiring “impact players” — people that possess high-demand talents that are in low-supply in highly skilled industries such as technology, chemical engineering, and health care.

So, what are the necessary steps in developing your social recruiting strategy?

  1. At the core of a successful social recruiting initiative is a clear and focused strategic plan. How will social media enable you to achieve more impactful efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to recruiting? What will drive the most impact for your talent acquisition efforts? To achieve the most measurable outcomes, you will want to start with your goals – what success looks like to you – in mind.
  2. It is important to ensure that appropriate and inappropriate uses of social media are clearly articulated and shared with employees of all levels. A strategic business plan considers the strategic uncertainties associated with it, and the same is true of your social media strategy. With the right policies and guidelines, and with strong training programs, organizations can gain tremendous benefit from online engagement.
  3. A comprehensive social recruiting strategy includes the creation of a robust content strategy. The content that you create should be determined by the goals and objectives that you’ve set for your social recruiting efforts. To develop content that is relevant and socially friendly, make sure that you know your audience, know where they hang out; also know your recruiting brand and your recruiting voice.
  4. Embrace mobile as part of your social recruiting strategy. Mobile technology has profoundly changed the way businesses interact with stakeholders, customers, employees, and now job seekers. Mobile is your opportunity to leverage marketing techniques, to create interactions, and to find those you may want to take to the next level.
  5. Create a meaningful candidate experience. Everything about the recruiting process can add to or subtract from how candidates experience the company – the company’s products and brand, the technology, the employees, and the recruiting team. Even when candidates don’t get the job they were seeking, you want them to feel that their experience is worth a positive post on their Facebook page.
  6. Transform employees into recruiters. Leverage your employees’ social networks to actively connect with and engage pools of talent, and to recruit on the company’s behalf.
  7. Measure what matters. The trick for talent professionals is to have good techniques for filtering and processing the vast amounts of available information, and to understand and leverage it for planning, campaign optimization, resource allocation, and program outcomes.

To maintain the competitive edge that can come with effective social recruiting, it is essential not only to implement a core strategy, but also to stay abreast of what future trends may bring. The top three trends include:

  • Workforce science. Workforce science will put big data at the heart of recruiting allowing recruiters to move beyond using social media as a communication tool toward leveraging big-data technologies. Recruiters can then mine data and drive customized social experiences that influence job-seeker behavior in ways that benefit the business.
  • Social graphs. Social graphs will seismically change how we recruit. The data collected through social graphing will become of great interest to businesses that are trying to connect and engage for the purposes of building a brand and driving consumer behavior.
  • Gamification. We can expect that gamification will continue to change the game of recruiting – especially as these tools are adopted more readily in organizations.


The content of this blog is a summary of a larger body of work, written by Annemarie Neal for The Conference Board. The report is titled Brave New World: Recruiting Talent in the Digital Age, published October, 2013. The report number is TCB_R-1534-13-RR.

Read more from Annemarie Neal in her new ASTD book, Leading from the Edge.

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