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If there’s a job you need to fill, it’s likely the right candidate is on social media right now – but which platforms are they using, and how do you reach out to them? A recent study by the Australian Academy of Business and Social Sciences looked at recruitment processes and the unique challenges faced by SMEs or small and medium enterprises; known most colloquially as “small businesses”.

The report found that “the effort to attract, compensate, motivate and retain employees is becoming a daunting task for small and medium enterprises as the war for talent becomes highly competitive.” Could recruiting via social media be a potential solution?

What are the unique challenges for recruiting for an SME?

SMEs are smaller in size and scope and therefore may have less time and fewer resources to expend on the recruiting process. As well as this, their focus might be on day-to-day operations so they might be less organised with spot projects such as role recruiting and may have few or no existing processes in place.

Another challenge is that SMEs might be not as well known to potential candidates who are used to interacting with the big brands on their social media feeds; therefore, they might be considered “less attractive” to the millennial jobseeker. As well as this, hiring is expensive. According to an SME recruitment study commissioned by HR firm Michael Page, “56% of SMEs would use an external hiring agency if value for money was demonstrated” but  “43% consider the cost of hiring as excessive.”

How can social media answer these challenges?

Could recruiting via social media be an answer to these problems? Across the board, “46% of SMEs agree that they struggle to find suitable jobseekers for their roles” whether the industry they’re in is manufacturing, IT, health and medical or creative.

The Academy report stated that prospective job applicants make decisions to apply for a job “when organisations put effort in generating viable candidates” so making yourself and your SME known to potential candidates is key. Social platforms can be a way of engaging in disruptive and personal messaging with candidates, one-on-one.

“Two strategies (to use) at this stage should be emphasising targets and messages. Targeting strategies focus on timing and types of prospective candidates sourced whereas the messaging strategy looks at the various sources used to recruit, in this instance the web, social media etc.” Honing your messaging and platform is an essential first step.

Four strategies for recruiting via social media

Here are 4 tips for recruiting for small or medium businesses by using social platforms:

1. Understand the difference between the platforms

There are countless social platforms your potential candidates could be on and this may also be specific to your industry, however most SMEs will find relevance by focusing on the “Big 4” for recruiting: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +. Each of these platforms has different elements you need to understand and take into account.

It’s essential that you have someone on your team who understands the nuances of the platforms and spends native time using them. Setting up a great profile for your SME is essential as well as this is your “face” to potential candidates. Pay attention to the images you use, the tone of your engagement and the content you share. Also ensure that all contact information is up-to-date and spend some time auditing your past content to make sure it’s still a brand-fit and isn’t jarring with your current messaging.

2. Reference and experience checking

When you’ve only got a small team, spending time and money ensuring a candidate is who they say they are can cost not only time but money. Where reference and academic, industry and police checks are needed, there may be costs involved. SMEs can’t do all of their checking via social media (nor should they) but a first round of checking to create a shortlist is made easier when your potential employee has populated their relevant online data, such as placing their current resume on LinkedIn and having the correct privacy settings on their Facebook and Google +.

However, when contacting a candidate’s referees, be conscious of privacy issues. “Before you contact anyone’s references, you need to make sure that you have permission from your potential job candidate to do so,” explains Duncan McGufficke of social recruitment platform Employers Connect. “A good way to get this is to contact the candidate via direct message or email and get written confirmation that it’s OK for you to go ahead and make contact with their referees.” Err on the side of caution.

3. Interacting with the candidate/s

Social media platforms operate in real time which can have its advantages in the recruitment process. With social media, you can view how someone responds to an idea, piece of content, message or request. “If someone takes the time to comment, share or like one of your social media posts then it’s imperative you remark back – don’t leave conversations on social platforms hanging,” warns McGufficke.

“Say thanks for their feedback or opinions and give them answers when they need them. Offering interaction like this on your official page builds engagement with your audience and will help new audiences discover your content and product. This then corresponds to your job role advertisements and other opportunities.” When you’re looking for the right candidate, having the option to interact with them is a huge advantage, and one that many large companies might not be able to make best use of, when compared with SMEs.

“Go hard at making connections every time you meet new industry colleagues,” suggests HR Manager and professional trainer, David Lang. “Ask their expertise, find their niche, ask how you can help them, join them on social networks immediately, update contacts with what you learnt from chatting as a reference for later. Use readily available free apps to build your own blog, podcast or video channel. Aim for quality but just try to have a lot of fun.”

4. Assessing “culture fit”

“Recruiting for culture fit” is now such a relevant part of the modern workplace that Harvard Business Review recently commissioned a study on this. “Cultural fit is the likelihood that someone will reflect and/or be able to adapt to the core beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that make up your organisation,” says the report.

“Employees who fit well with their organisation, co-workers, and supervisor had greater job satisfaction, were more likely to remain with their organisation, and showed superior job performance,” so it’s easy to understand why this is so relevant to SMEs.

Reading someone’s resume or going through their portfolio might give you some indication of who a persona really is but by doing relevant and respectful checks via social media, you might become interested in someone who might not translate well “on paper” but might be just the sort of creative or analytical brain your SME needs.

About the author

Yvette McKenzie is a writer for Secta Security. She works for a leading online educator and has a background in broadcast media, with a passion for digital marketing, SEO, promotions, journalism and content strategy.

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Yvette McKenzie

Yvette McKenzie

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