“What do you think about using Facebook for recruiting?” is a question I now hear several times a day. The individual asking me the question is hoping that I offer one of these two answers:
a. “It’s a waste of time.” The owner or manager is then relieved that they don’t need to do it.
b. “It’s a great idea.” The owner or manager is exuberant because they believe it’s free and applicants will just flock to their page to apply.
Unfortunately these individuals are greatly disappointed most of the time because Facebook is neither a waste of time nor the magic bullet of recruiting.
Despite the ambiguity, I believe every business should consider using Facebook for recruiting. Recruiting has become as much if not more about marketing and branding than human resources. Its success however depends on a number of factors and most businesses are not very good at evaluating when to use it or using it effectively.
Like any other media, recruiters must look first at the target audience. With 850 million users (and over half of them logging in every day), it is very likely that nearly every business has a future employee using Facebook. The problem is how to get that next superstar to see your page with the job opening. Once they get there it is important to get them to apply. But studies show that less than 1 in 10 candidates who view a job ad actually complete the application. That means recruiters must figure out a way for applicants to learn about their Facebook career page, engage visitors quickly, and make the process applicant friendly.
For employers who want to use Facebook for recruiting successfully, I recommend these 5 guidelines.
- Be proactive. The chances of creating a custom career page on Facebook and expecting anyone to find it is smaller than winning the lottery if you don’t have lots of fans who “like” your page. Before even considering using Facebook for recruitment, a company must consider its overall social media strategy. To get the word out, a company needs lots of “likes” but plus other social media engagement on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Craigslist to funnel applicants to the page. Creating a new page and expecting applicants to show because you have a job opening will get the same response as planning a big wedding but not having anyone to invite. Without lots of “likes” on your list, few people will see your announcement and few if any applicants will apply. Even if you don’t have a job opening today, plan ahead. Start building your fan base to be ready when you have something to offer.
- Be prepared. Facebook is a catch-22 when recruiting. The good news is that Facebook can be a fantastic source of candidates for many businesses. While the over 55 age group is the fastest growing cohort using Facebook, the 40 and under cohort still dominates. If your company is offering hourly or entry-level management jobs, Facebook is a great hunting ground. So what’s the bad news? Imagine receiving several hundred resumes. New research shows that it currently takes 1,000 views on the Internet to get 100 candidates to complete an application, out of which 1 applicant is a good fit. Most companies are unprepared to view, screen, and manually process applicants if the campaign is successful. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, an effective recruitment campaign must include automated applicant processing to weed out poor fit candidates fast and be able to contact good prospects quickly and professionally.
- Be realistic. Facebook is not a substitute for CareerBuilder, Monster, and other job boards…unless you have tens of thousands of followers. Since that excludes most businesses, sourcing candidates from multiple places is a must. Facebook should be on the list. It offers an incredible source of potential candidates especially for retail, hospitality, and health care. That’s because Facebook is word of mouth on steroids. Companies that use Facebook to engage visitors who like your page will spread the word to friends and family looking for work or a change in careers. Facebook can be a valuable asset in the war for talent but it is not a replacement for other effective strategies. It’s just not the the magic bullet…yet.
- Learn to optimize. A career page on Facebook is a web page, just like a page on your company website. Like every page on your website, it must be optimized to be found when a jobseeker searches Google or Bing. Here’s a good example of a poorly optimized job ad.
This might have worked for print media, but will likely be buried in the search engines. This business is seeking a graphic designer. To the search engines, relevance is extremely important and nowhere else is “graphic designer” mentioned. Page ranking for this ad will be very low and therefore few graphic designers will ever know about the job opening at this great company. Whether the page is on Facebook or not, it must be optimized. Recruiting employees is no longer a human resources function but a collaborative effort between marketing, public relations, and HR.
- Think! You wouldn’t place an ad in the newspaper, radio, or TV and then direct them away from your place of business, would you? Then why would you get potential job applicants to view your job openings on your Facebook page and redirect them to a third party job board? I mentioned earlier about the necessity for businesses to implement automated applicant processing. An applicant processing system (APS) allows a company to create a company career site on their website. Not only does this strategy drive applicants and more traffic back to the company website but it allows the company to collect all applicant data in one place. Why would you give all your applicant data to third party sites with no strings attached? In addition to faster, more accurate screening, the applicant processing center creates a talent pool of candidates for future job openings and improves compliance with employment regulations and guidelines such as EEO, too.