"Thank you for your interest. We will check out your information and be in touch with any questions! You can always tweet me. Even better… SNAPCHAT me why you belong here.”
Marketing firm Likeable Media snuck the above line into its boilerplate reply to candidates who emailed in their job applications. It might sound radical – that is, until you consider that more than 3 billion “snaps” are created everyday by more than 160 million Snapchat users around the world.
Meanwhile, Facebook hosts more than a quarter of the world’s population on its platform. Even in Singapore, a report by Hootsuite has found that three out of four people use social media; a vast majority of whom also use it on the go.
Given those numbers, any HR professional who isn’t using social media to aid the recruitment process is very much the exception, rather than the norm. Social platforms are especially important for anyone trying to attract young, tech-savvy millennials.
“Generation Y and the millennials grew up with technology. Thus technology is one of the best ways to reach out to this generation and to the masses,” notes Diana Tay, Regional Marketing Manager at recruitment firm RGF.
Social networking empowers organisations to shape their employer branding on their own terms. According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2016 report, almost half of the near 4,000 hiring managers surveyed named social media as the most effective employer branding tool in their arsenal.
Networks like Instagram, which are as much about presenting a certain lifestyle as they are about posting pretty photographs, are a potent platform from which businesses can give outsiders a sneak peek into their company culture.
“With the convenience of accessing social media sites, naturally talent would use such sites as a means of gaining an insight into the company, their employees, and even HR or their potential boss,” says James Miles, Senior Director of RGF.
“In fact, we have had potential talent who told us that their interest in us was sparked off by our social media postings, as we have a good brand, are serious about our corporate values, and seem like a fun company to work at. They have since become our employees.”
As Tay points out, however, “One should not jump onto the bandwagon without creating a proper social media campaign or calendar. This allows for the right content, messaging, and targeting of talent. Time is required to not only create the social media plan and content but also the full recruitment cycle which includes receiving of applicants, filtering, and negotiating.”
Dell, which won a special recognition award for Best Social HR at the HRM Awards 2016, provides an interesting case study in the area of targeted social recruitment. Its talent acquisition team started an Instagram account @lifeatdell, where it posts and “regrams” (shares) everything from department “wefies” (team selfies) to pet pictures and office doodles. The team also created a hashtag under the same name, #lifeatdell, and encouraged employees from around the world to post to it. It currently has more than 2,400 entries.
In China, on the other hand, talent acquisition leaders focus on the locally popular WeChat platform – a shrewd move given that WeChat has more than 700 million active users in that country, with the vast majority aged between 18 and 36.
“In less than a year, Dell’s percentage of hires through WeChat [were] higher than any other social media source,” Yvonne Su, Talent Acquisition Analyst for Dell, writes.
“We have found WeChat to be a great platform for our talent acquisition team to reach out to a broader and wider target audience easily through special postings exclusively to followers. We want our followers to stay engaged and help us to expand by re-posting our posts to their friends and network.”
As Dell’s experience demonstrates, even if you aren’t reaching the candidates themselves, you might be reaching their friends and family. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given that social networking is essentially the digital equivalent of that most useful of recruiting tools: word of mouth.
There's an app for that
Of course, anyone with enough dollars can advertise jobs on Snapchat – and these days, it seems like everyone is doing just that. Even Wall Street titans like Goldman Sachs have jumped into the fray and are running recruitment campaigns on the app.
But when that is the status quo, how can any single employer stand out? McDonalds, for instance, didn’t limit its campaign to posting ten-second video clips of employees discussing the benefits of working there. Its campaign also made it possible for intrigued candidates to simply swipe up and be led to the restaurant chain’s careers page. These “Snapplications” have launched in both Australia and the US, and the company says it might branch out onto Hulu and Spotify platforms next.
E-commerce business Zulily, which sells lifestyle products, brought social media into its recruitment process from a slightly different angle, by inviting candidates to submit an Instagram post that “best represents themselves and what they would bring to the company”.
Digital marketing agency Fetch combined the best of both approaches when it created two Tinder profiles – one male and one female – to find interns located in the New York area. Interested “matches” were asked to send their best pick-up lines, and from there continue conversing with the company’s recruiters. In crowded metropolitan areas like New York, a regular job posting can easily be buried under dozens or even hundreds of others. With its 50 million active users, who spend an average of 90 minutes on the app daily, Tinder isn’t as strange a platform as it may sound for sourcing candidates.
Fetch says it did, in fact, find its perfect intern, and plans to repeat the experiment soon.
New ways of connnecting
Brian Murray, the director of Likeable Media who asked candidates to drop him a note on Snapchat, notes there is an increasing need to find new ways to identify outstanding candidates. Even though his company did not hire directly through Snapchat, a few people managed to get interviews. They included a candidate who was fast-tracked through the process, and received an offer less than a fortnight after their initial message.
RGF’s Miles adds, “Competing against rivals at a time when there is a war for talent, the company would need to either stand out from the rest or be more targeted in its talent acquisition methods.”
He shares the example of software company Red 5 Studio, which used social media to source 100 high-potential candidates. Red 5 did not simply reach out to these with an email. Rather, it proceeded to send each a personalised iPod with a recorded message from the CEO inviting them to apply. 90 of the candidates applied, and three of those eventually left their existing jobs to join the company.
As Red 5’s experience demonstrates, the secret to social HR is perhaps in how well a HR professional is able to exploit it to reach and hook in potential candidates. As it stands, social networking is certainly not going anywhere – but for anyone who continuously strives to make real connections in an increasingly digital world, experience shows that the talent will come.