Social networks for HR recruitment

Toddler wearing boss helmetMany employers run graduate recruitment programs as a long-term strategy to bring new ideas and fresh talent into an organisation while reducing the average labour cost of their employees. The HR deparment will run their graduate recruitment program to hire people to meet the future skill needs of the business as well as to develop future leaders of the organisation.

While recruitment strategy applies to all hiring activities, the graduate program has some unique qualities. Most graduates are from a younger demographic of the population, people who are digital natives, people who are checking facebook when they wake up (many before they get out of bed!). Let’s consider the reach of a social network platform like Facebook, the average user has 190 friends, with most friends just a short distance away and mostly around the same age. Connecting to a potential graduate employee through facebook is an opportunity to reach a larger number of other potential employees who are prequalified by location and demographic.

Graduate recruitment programs need to build a strong pipeline of potential candidates with the skills and aptitude that match the demand within their organisation. Social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, can play a strategic role in meeting this objective.

That’s not to say this strategy is without it’s challenges:

  • Recruitment involves personal information about candidates as well as confidential information about organisations and not everyone wants to announce to the world that they applied for a role but were unsuccessful.
  • Organisations with a brand presence on social networking platforms can face the prospect of an unhappy customer venting their disatisfaction on a Facebook page or Twitter topic intended for recruitment and not customer service.
  • HR departments may not have the expertise or the time to dedicate to a strong social network presence that involves constant monitoring, updating and engagement in conversations.

It’s important that any recruitment strategy involving social media is developed with these challenges in mind. There are two important pieces to such a strategy.:

  • Organisations need to take a decentralised approach that makes the most of their active and expert social network users; these may be managers, HR advisors, graduate employees and basically anyone working in the company.
  • Employees engaging with potential candidates through social media need training, support as well as clear expectations and guidelines.

Let’s take a closer look at how this strategy might be implemented:

Social Media Policy and Training

The social media policy will provide clear expectations and illustrative examples on appropriate behaviour for employees engaging in social media networks on work-related topics. This may include the expectation that they should identify themselves as an employee but not as an authorised representative, it may also set the expectation that they can always engage the HR department for an ‘official statement’ when the need arises.

HR Advisors who are authorised representatives of the company, such as the employees updating the Careers Facebook page, will be trained in best practices for working with social media with support from the marketing (or other delegated) department.

Facebook Careers Page

Current graduates will rotate the role of Facebook Careers ‘Guru’ during their time in the graduate program. This is a responsibility that would be shared between 3 or 4 graduates who will work with HR advisors on engaging in conversation and the wider community while also providing the opportunity to develop their communication and networking skills.

The Careers page on Facebook will have a clear goal to provide education and support to prospective graduates who may or may not become employees of the organisation: the goal is to connect to the community of job-seekers and contribute to the body information available to candidates who may be starting out on their careers.

Assessment Centre #hashtag

During the recruitment process, hiring managers and graduates attending the assessment centre might be encouraged to microblog, either externally through twitter or interally through yammer, using a provided hashtag. This will provide immediate feedback to the HR team as well as provide an opportunity for current graduates to provide support to the candidates who are confronted by an unknown process in a strange environment.


Employees who are active on Linkedin will be encouraged to post information about the graduate program to their network or engage in discussions about the opportunities.

There are a wealth of opportunities for graduate programs to connect with potential candidates in a new way through social media. There are new opportunities, new skills to learn a well as minefields to navigate. I’ve thought about a few ways to connect through social media but I’m sure there are many more … any suggestions?