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The Brave New World of Social Media Sourcing

Shanil Kaderali discusses searching for talent via social media

More and more recruiters are turning to social media to find talent, scouring social media profiles, blogs and online communities to find information on passive candidates. Employers also use social media to advertise jobs, either through vendors or via job seekers sharing job openings over their online networks.

Finding talent through social media requires a different approach and different strategies than finding talent using traditional techniques.

Shanil Kaderali is executive vice president of global talent solutions at San Jose, Calif.-based Pierpoint International, a global recruitment process outsourcing firm. He spoke with SHRM Online about how to do social media sourcing well, the unique challenges of finding candidates through social media and the emerging role of the social media sourcer.

SHRM Online: What makes a social media sourcing strategy successful?

Kaderali: Being focused. The most influential social networking channels have an estimated 2 billion unique monthly visitors. You may want to implement your recruitment strategy across all these sites. However, being everywhere requires serious time and energy, while your brand may risk becoming diluted. You can’t be everywhere. Intuit and Microsoft are good examples [of companies] that have dedicated, targeted social media sourcing strategies.

Knowing when to use either a push marketing or pull marketing strategy is also important. Many recruiting professionals make the mistake of thinking that social media is just a quick and easy tool to blast their job ads and recruitment posts out to large numbers of prospects. Then they’re stunned when nobody is clicking on their posts or applying to their jobs. This is a push marketing strategy. It’s effective when done in a targeted manner with smaller campaigns aimed at 25-50 candidates with very specific skills.

But to win on recruitment with social media, you have to attract or pull talent toward you. Candidates are attracted to you via your message and the meaningful content you share on social media. Sharing content that is valuable to candidates gets noticed, versus sending only career-related information.

It’s essential to be authentic and helpful on social media also. The U.S. Coast Guard uses both Twitter and Flickr effectively as part of its pull marketing strategy.

SHRM Online: After LinkedIn, what are the most popular social media channels being used for sourcing? What about emerging channels?

Kaderali: LinkedIn is the most widely used. Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world and is becoming more closely tied to professional or association networking sites. Recruiting via this platform has the chance to be more widely successful because of the average age of its users. The world is rapidly getting younger and this generation is growing up on Facebook, so this will be their eventual go-to guide for career-related activities. I think in three to four years, it’ll be tied with LinkedIn, based on current trajectory.

Then there are emergent channels, which include Snapchat. It’s a picture-based chatting app that has taken the world by storm. Its audience is mainly Gen Z and younger Millennials but its technology is incredibly versatile, playful and engaging, so I see opportunities here but at a nascent stage. Building relationships with snaps [photo or video stories] will appeal to certain industries such as advertising, entertainment and retail before gaining broader appeal.

SHRM Online: Tell me about the emerging role of the social media sourcer. What are the responsibilities for the role and what skill sets are required?

Kaderali: This new role carries a variety of unique attributes and a mix of hybrid responsibilities. Part researcher, part social media strategist, part online relationship-builder and part marketer, all integrated into one with the express goal of qualifying candidates for potential hires. Intuit takes a cutting-edge approach to its talent attraction strategies and has created a number of these specialized roles that blend the utilization of traditional sourcing tactics, while taking it one step further and incorporating a heavy emphasis on direct marketing and social media as the leading platform to generate candidate leads. The reach of this new role will continue to grow. More-traditional staffing firms have begun experimenting with it.

SHRM Online: What are some of the special challenges of social media sourcing?

Kaderali: Social sourcing is time-consuming. The key point here is about developing relationships. Social media can expedite the process, but don’t assume it’s instant. It’s not.

Also, finding the balance with privacy is crucial. In some countries, using Facebook to source isn’t developed due to culture and privacy issues. In Latin America, it’s not widely accepted. Twitter is less of a problem globally, but for Facebook, it definitely is a balancing act.

Methodology is another challenge. The challenge here is when you begin sourcing in nontraditional talent pools, you must understand that potential candidates are not posting their resumes there. They will add some personal information, but more importantly, they will be active with pages and other members that relate to them. In this scenario, you can still use keywords for finding candidates, but it will not work as effectively as on a job board. Since keywords are not as strong, the next challenge is to become very good about finding out where the people we want to find congregate. It’s important to talk to the hiring manager, and people already on the team, to ask about the social communities, blogs and people they follow and are interested in.

Engagement is essential to get the candidate’s attention once we know we’re headed in the right direction, and that our message is going to resonate with that audience. With a phone call, you can engage the candidate in a two-way conversation. With an e-mail, direct message, mention or post, it’s a one-way conversation unless the candidate decides to respond. Candidates are getting bombarded from other recruiters. And it’s very easy for them to just ignore the outreach. This is why it’s important to build a good social presence that is tailored to the target audience. That means being active every day, and with content that will be interesting and attract the desired audience. It’s a lot like marketing and branding.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMRoy


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