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Using Social Media as a Recruiting Strategy? Here's How to do it Right

In November, the Financial Times posted an article that discussed the growing trend in the use of social media by recruiters. In addition to talking up a variety of social media tools (LinkedIn in particular, which should feel pretty predictable), the article goes on at length about how social media does not replace a headhunter’s skills but merely gives them a medium through which to really shine.

This struck a chord because, well, it’s true: social media is something more and more companies are using to find new recruits. Without a skilled recruiter or headhunter at the helm of the mission, though, using social media to find new employees is kind of like visiting a museum: you can see a bunch of great art but you can’t take any of it home.

Here’s how to match your recruiting skills to the social media landscape:

1. Go Where Your People Are

Everybody knows about LinkedIn. It’s the networking tool of the new millennium. In our article How to Social Network with Nerds, Raghav points out that it isn’t the only social tool for job seekers out there—particularly for recruiters tasked with finding IT staffers. He advocates finding the social media sites where your recruits will be spending time. He points to GitHub, TopCoder and a few others for IT professionals.

To use another example: according to Jonathan Silver at 29 Prime, YouTube is a social network that is being utilized more every day by companies and corporations hoping to build their brands. Pay attention to the video production credits and look for people who make and produce their own videos. When you need to find talent to place in web or media positions, you may be able to tap resources from YouTube...if you do your research.

A quick Google search can help you find social media portals for specific types of people (and people with specific interests and skills).

2. Remember that Not All Jobs are Filled by Job Seekers

This is another strike against LinkedIn—a network used primarily for finding new positions of employment. The best people for a specific position are likely already employed doing that exact job somewhere else. Building up a network of people that you can mine to find the best in the field, regardless of employment status, is important.

How does this apply to social media? You can haunt a few forums and other social portals through which experienced pros talk about their own projects and offer advice to newbies. Work on building relationships with these people. You might be able to lure them away from their current jobs and into the position you need to fill. Even if you aren’t able to recruit them for a specific position now, you know that they might be valuable network contacts for helping you find someone else who will fit the bill perfectly.

3. Relationships are What Matter

The thing that matters most when you’re trying to find recruits through social media is the building of relationships with those people. You already know that finding the perfect candidate can often take time. During that time, you need to be actually talking with potential recruits and building a reliable conversation and relationship with them on social media. Like we’ve already said—even if the relationship you’re building doesn’t result in an actual placement, it can result in a great network contact who can direct you to potential recruits who will fit your needs.

What are some of the ways you’ve found to use social media in your recruiting efforts? Which networks best help you use your already existing skills?