In the recruiting world, the career site operates as the sun - the center of your social universe. All other platforms, tools and technologies revolve around the sun, and the ultimate goal is to drive those candidates to the conversion act, which means they either apply for the job or they join your talent community. That is your candidate conversion.

All other sites, all of these other tools outside of the career site, really, are just rented space. However, they are increasing in importance for effectively reaching diverse candidate audiences with the goal of driving them to conversion, which is applying for the job.

In a recent RiseSmart #SmartTalkHR Webinar, I discuss “Digitizing Talent: Creative Strategies for the Digital Recruiting Age.” During the webinar I explore specific tools and examples of companies who use digital recruiting effectively.

Digital strategies for better candidate engagement

At the heart of digital is social media. Even though we are now living in the age of social media, there is still a lot of misinformation and assumptions around how social media is being used, especially by those non-believers and those that don't use social media in the way that a power user does.

Social media is extremely important for today’s HR leaders and recruiters. Today, candidates are doing research and wanting to get to know us even more before they apply. Once they engage with us, they are likely to share their experiences and talk about their interview process, the application process, and getting in the organization, or not, and they're willing to do that online.

Related content: The Candidate Experience and the Corporate Brand

The rise of social media hasn't replaced existing strategies and tools. It's only added to them. There are a variety of choices right now, including:

  • Text messaging,
  • Social media
  • Live video on Facebook
  • YouTube

To make the candidate landscape even more complex, we are now faced with the fact that we're living in a mobile world. Mobile internet traffic eclipsed desktop internet in 2017. Mobile is now the first computer of choice for most of your candidates, and it is the most important piece of technology in their lives.

Candidates expect the same type of experience from us as recruiters and HR leaders and their employers as they do from consumer products, services, and technologies they purchase. You may not be surprised that the most common use of social media by candidates is just to check up on the status of their application. They just want to know where they stand. All candidates have this expectation for resources. As recruiters and HR leaders, we need to find a way to anticipate these questions and automate some of these processes because we don't have the time to sit on Twitter and wait for somebody to ask a question on the status of their application.

Candidates expect the same time of experience from us as recruiters and HR leaders and their employers as they do from consumer products, services, and technologies they purchase. @jmillermerrell #SmartTalkHR @RiseSmart

Social is all about the candidate experience. And in order to attract the best talent, it is our responsibility to provide an experience that is creative and engaging.

Live video

Live video allows recruiters the opportunity to engage candidates in real time. You can ask questions or point them to resources. It allows you to build trust, which is critical for candidates who are passive and casually researching your organization even before they become an active job seeker. And lastly, video helps you to humanize the hiring process. We're not just robots behind a screen, we're real people, just like them. Using live video, you can share about the culture, tell stories, and build the connection. The thing I love about live video is, oftentimes, it's free.

The humanizing aspect is key because employees are the most credible and trusted resource or individual representative of a company. Your employees, combined with video - the most human and engaging type of technology - becomes the killer combination.

Related content: 5 Key Elements of an Employer Brand that Attract and Retain Talent

Social media might seem confusing and complicated. It may seem like there's a different platform growing every single day and you have lots of options. Before you dive into this, I suggest polling your employees. Ask them what social media channel they frequent most, as a job seeker and also as an individual. So many of us are casually surfing on personal websites that personal versus professional gray area comes into play.

If you're comfortable, talk to your new hires and possible candidates who've recently applied. If you are wanting to help improve your candidate experience, you need to talk to not only the folks that were hired, but also those who weren't the final candidates or weren’t extended an offer.

I feel like Instagram is hard to use in recruiting, but it’s a great place for candidate engagement and sourcing.  Automation has been a challenge, although there are new tools that will allow you to grow and automate your Instagram following. You can now schedule messages using some third-party tools. Instagram and their stories and Instagram Live  features provide another great way to engage job candidates using social media. I love Instagram. I love photos because they tell a great story in very little words.

Live video doesn't have to be high tech. It doesn't have to be expensive or overly produced. You can just simply log into your social media account, whether it's Instagram or Snapchat or Facebook, and shoot your live video.

I’ve seen creative uses of virtual reality. It’s a little more technical, but really has a big impact. I had the pleasure at South by Southwest to visit the Gap careers booth, and I took part in their virtual reality recruiting experience. Visitors to the Gap booth strapped on the VR headsets and were able to experience a 360-degree tour of the San Francisco and New York offices. It gave people of the feeling of really being there and it was a great way to impress technical candidates.

Taking a page from marketing

Programmatic advertising is where we're taking our nod from marketing here. So much of recruiting is a marketing function and a marketing opportunity. We're engaging candidates, and there are so many parallels to how your own marketing team engages customers.

Programmatic advertising is where we're taking our nod from marketing here. So much of recruiting is a marketing function and a marketing opportunity. @jmillermerrell #SmartTalkHR @RiseSmart

Programmatic advertising offers an opportunity to target candidates using a pay-per-click model, similar to what happens with social media ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Depending on which programmatic platform you use, and there are several, you can pay-per-click just like in marketing.

I'm sure you've had a time where you’ve shopped online and afterward these ads seem to follow you around. This strategy is called retargeting. You can also do retargeting using programmatic and some of these other ad tools for recruiting. Using these marketing methods, you're able to follow your candidates around and remind them why you're a best place to work or prompt them about a job opening they reviewed.

Related content: 5 Ideas HR Should Steal from a Marketer’s Playbook

These candidates are tagged once they visit your site. When they leave, your employment ad will pop up all over the web. You can also use retargeting on job boards. By monitoring activity, you don't have to spend all your budget in one place. You can wait until you have 15 candidates or so that you want to target and then you can move that spend over to another ad posting.

I see a lot of promise in retargeting in programmatic advertising. Candidates who visit your communities, job boards, or career sites, can be tagged for retargeting, allowing you to follow them and reach them throughout the web. Sometimes, it takes a little bit more education and information to convert them from a prospect to an applicant.

Social media automation

When it comes to candidate engagement, automation is your best friend. Social media doesn't always work by your schedule, and candidate engagement might happen when you aren’t available. According to Nielsen, the busiest day on Facebook and Twitter is Sunday. This is the time that candidates are sharing and connecting with friends via social media or looking for a job. To be responsive, you need to have content scheduled, or the ability to respond on that Sunday timeframe.

You should be engaging your candidates when they're the most active. According to research by Dice, the best day or the busiest day for candidates is Monday. Candidates encounter those Sunday job blues. They realize that the weekend is almost over, and about 2:00 p.m., they realize they have to go back to work on Monday. And that's when they begin researching companies and applying for jobs. It’s extremely important if you are launching your digital talent and recruiting efforts to think about when your candidates are looking for work.

Text Messaging

One of my other favorite ways to automate candidate engagement comes in the form of text messaging. I've had job offers accepted over text message, it's a great way to be able to engage your job seeker community.

Texting offers you a great way to increase the engagement. Ninety-nine percent of text messages are read within 90 seconds. This level of responsiveness allows you a great way to conduct cold reach jobs and receive quick responses from candidates from offerings to scheduling interviews.

We live in a mobile-first world and text messages will allow you to engage your candidates in different ways. Some examples of text messages might include "Hey, just confirming our interview." Follow that up with a Google map and your address to make it easy for them to find your offices arrive on time. You could also use it as a recruiting cold call, "Hey, are you interested about hearing about the senior manager role?"

I've also seen companies use text messaging in the hiring process, just giving them a gentle nudge to complete an application. You may have someone that is really great for a role and you screen them as a recruiter, you push them through to the next stage, remind them that they have to take an assessment but they haven't taken the assessment. You can use text messaging to send them a reminder to complete the assessment. If you're working a lot with contractors or temp workers, text messaging is a great way to remind somebody to fill out their time sheet.

Our phones are our number one computer and the best way to engage those job seekers. I don't think a lot of us have a business card with us anymore, so your text message can be a great way to provide a digital business card. Normally people say, "Hey, connect with me on LinkedIn."

To make it more personal, and to make sure you can keep in touch easily, you can simply set up with a short code. You can text, first name, last name, or initials. People who text in your code will be connected back to your social media accounts, and you can ask clarifying questions.

You can set this up for all your recruiters, and every time they go to campus or to visit a job fair or they're just out and about doing their thing, they don't have a business card, you could say, "Hey, just text in my digits. You can get my information, and let's connect." And 99 percent of text messages are read within the first 90 seconds, can you say the same thing about your business cards?

Metrics and Measurement

Not all metrics are created equal, and I think they do require some sort of education on your part with your sponsor in your executive team. I also think it's important to work with marketing to discuss the importance of how they value things like impressions on social media, conversations, engagements and clicks.

Google Analytics is an important tool to understand how your paid and organic digital efforts are actually contributing to your recruiting efforts and resulting in qualified candidates. The real key is understanding the activity on the most important asset that you have in your social recruiting and digital recruiting universe, which is your career site. Which means that you need to understand what candidates are doing on your career site, where they're spending their most time, where they're coming from, and the source of hire.

I love Google Analytics. You just need to work with your IT team to set it up, and you can have access immediately to this data. Now, you're able to arm yourself with the right data to effectively assess your candidate sources and then determine how you're going to spend your recruiting dollars.

Start small and build

Social recruiting, in my mind, is a creative marketing strategy built on the foundations of metrics and measurements. It's important to try new initiatives out as pilot programs. You’re going to fail sometimes, but you'll learn so much from that experiment. Before you launch into a fully committed program, a pilot allows you to make tweaks and move on to something a little bit different when one thing doesn’t work. Through trial and error, this experiment, things will be able to really start to work.

Prioritize your digital talent attraction efforts. We can't afford to let this go by the wayside any longer. Mobile activity in social media is so important in our target candidate demographics everyday lives. The importance is to create momentum with these small wins, and then you kind of grow from there.

If you’re interested in hearing more about this topic, you can view the webinar in its entirety here.

13 November 2018

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