Recruitment & Retention Opinion

How Should Employers Use Social Media in Recruiting?

By Emily Douglas-McNab — February 19, 2012 3 min read
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In a previous post, “Staffing, What It Is and Isn’t,” I discussed the process of finding the right people and bringing them into an organization. An important part of this process is recruitment. (Note that recruitment is different from selection. Recruitment is finding and attracting talent, while selection is just that - picking who you want to hire.)

I am often asked by talent managers and other district leaders about using social media to recruit candidates. I believe, if used correctly, social networking can be an effective recruiting tool. Notice the phrase “if used correctly.”

Jeff Haden’s recent article in Inc. “If This Isn’t How You Recruit, You’re Doing It Wrong” investigates the struggles of many small businesses in recruiting and hiring high potential candidates. It provides a thoughtful list of suggestions for using social media in recruiting that is not only pertinent for business owners, but education leaders as well.

Hayden writes, “Most small business owners struggle to find and recruit great employees even when unemployment rates are relatively high. Partly that’s because finding new employees is just one of a thousand other tasks you perform.”

Now, think about this from a district perspective. It’s the same thing! Unemployment and underemployment rates are high, but not all unemployed or underemployed people are qualified (for various reasons), which makes finding the right candidate difficult. Additionally, Haden notes that recruitment is only one of many tasks businesses must perform. This is the same for school districts. Some districts don’t have an HR department, while those that do are also responsible for handling paychecks, benefits, retirement, and other essential day-to-day activities.

To address this challenge, Hayden gives six ways that anyone can take advantage of a professional recruiter’s tools and ideas. Two of these focus specifically on recruitment.

1. Ditch the job boards.

I agree! Here’s why:

Over-saturation: People become desensitized to technology. (That’s another conversation on how, when, why this happens). And, we generally gravitate to the latest and greatest product or tool. Think about it. When email first came on the scene, it was a big deal to have an email address, and most people opened and responded to any message they received. Now, it is not unusual to have multiple email accounts that receive hundreds, if not thousands, of emails a week. I currently have four email accounts that I check regularly. However, I delete the majority of items in my Google account without reading them. Most of the emails are spam. I never open messages that say “help” in the subject or “sale,” when just nine years ago I would have looked through all of them.

When job boards were first developed, they were seen as the new ‘hot’ thing. People would pay to post their résumé and businesses would pay to read about candidates. I have friends in HR who took classes on job board sites and had very expensive accounts with sales reps that visited for help. Initially, my friends were provided with information on qualified individuals from across the country, and overtime, the number of applicants on these sites grew as Internet use increased. However, many applicants did not have the needed skills. Recruiters found themselves spending hours sorting though résumés without much luck, while having to pay for each résumé they viewed.

Likewise, many people who posted résumés stopped hearing back from organizations as they were among millions of other candidates seeking a position. Job boards were once a hub for job applicants and businesses, but due to over-saturation, many users have become desensitized to the technology.

2. Put more emphasis on social media.

I agree in concept, but it needs to be the RIGHT social media solution. Here’s why:

Based purely on the volume of users, Facebook may appear as the best place to recruit for a job opening. However, due to a number of factors, it is not the ideal tool for a school district to find their next superintendent. A more professionally oriented site like LinkedIn would probably be more appropriate. If I was recruiting talent in a school district, I would use a site like LinkedIn to find candidates as well as resources from a professional organization like the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), or Education Week’s Top School Jobs.

How will this information influence your current recruiting practices? Does your district currently use social media for recruitment? If so, how? As always, please share your thoughts!

The opinions expressed in K-12 Talent Manager are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.