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Andy Headworth is one of 37 contributors to SmashFly’s 2016 Recruitment Marketing Ideabook. In this guest blog post, he expands on his recruitment marketing best practice for 2016: leveraging social profiles to better target communication to candidate leads. Read more from Andy on his award-winning blog, Sirona Says

Whoever thinks that recruiters have it easy with the avalanche of social data available, need to think again. The significant growth over the last two years in information sourcing technology and the subsequent sheer volume of social media data available has had a real impact on recruitment.

Firstly, from the recruiter’s perspective, the volume of unstructured (and sometimes conflicting) information you find on social media can cause uncertainty and confusion around candidate engagement and (in Europe anyway) personal privacy. Secondly, from a candidate perspective, they are on the wrong end of the output of this available data – recruiters sending them bland, unoriginal and bothersome messages offering jobs and opportunities. LinkedIn is the best example of this, where recipients have definitely become completely apathetic towards InMail (and the recruiters sending them).

With the advent of the new Facebook Messenger changes, I genuinely fear that many recruiters could have a really negative affect on the fantastic (and still under-used) “recruitment platform” that is Facebook.

Social media – in all its forms – is such a fantastic tool for recruiters because it tells us so much about the people we are trying the engage with (potential candidates) often for the first time. All the social networks provide a recruiter with a large array of content that makes it easy to engage with someone – from the structured (and formal) work information on LinkedIn, to the content of the pictures people post on Instagram, to the groups they’re a part of, to what they like on Facebook, to the comments and conversations people have on Twitter.

To truly benefit from social recruiting, recruiters first need to fully understand the people and roles they are actually recruiting for. It is not about matching two or three keywords anymore – it needs to be much more than that. Recruiters need to focus on building detailed personas of their target candidate audiences, which would enable them to source, engage and (ultimately) recruit the right talent for their organization.

Aside from LinkedIn and its structured dataset, all other social networks are unstructured with the information they ask for from its users, making social media profiles completely full of user-generated content and, as such, potentially as random as it gets!

Recruiters don’t have time for random, they need to be able to identify who and what they are looking for, relatively quickly. This is one of the challenges of social media for recruiting, and why, I believe, many recruiters only search on LinkedIn for candidates.

Taking the time at the beginning of the recruiting process to create candidate personas will help you better understand who you are looking for, giving you an outline of details that could potentially be found in social profiles.

We all use social networks in different ways, adding information that meets our needs and agendas on different networks. Creating personas helps recruiters think about the different types of information people add in their profile and what might help them identify potential candidates by their interests, updates, posts and personal interactions.

For example:

  • Identify information about the role profile you are recruiting for – Job titles and all the associated synonyms; likely companies they work for; the roles they will fill at those companies; tools, systems and platforms they will use at work; and relevant experience they will need to have.
  • Build the bio data – Education (type of degree, subject, modules, university or college); where they are likely to live; the companies they work for (thinking outside of the normal competitors); and what remuneration packages they are on.
  • List out challenges/goals – consider the aspirations and goals for your target candidates. This isn’t as hard as you think – speak to people doing the same or similar job, they will help.
  • What do they value/fear? –Try to gain insight into this, as it really helps with the next point (again speak to incumbents).
  • What is the marketing message? – This is the message to use to reach out to people on social media. What is the hook, interest, message, idea or angle you can then use to get their interest, on whichever social network they are on.
  • What is the pitch? – More relevant for companies: why should they be interested in your company? All of the above now comes into play for this next level of communication.


When you have done all this, you will find you have a much larger chance of not only finding people on social media, but more importantly a better chance for them to reply to your approach.

With recruitment content marketing playing such a key part in attracting and engaging talent, the personas that you build will also help you to share content that these audiences will be interested in, starting the engagement process with them.

You can then use this valuable information to build targeted social media and remarketing campaigns across the social networks you know your target audiences are on. You can’t engage talent and build relationships with them unless you know where they are online.

Research tells us that people are members of at least five social networks, so for recruiters that want to engage more candidates on social media, they need to get into the habit of getting the social media and messaging details (WhatsApp, Messenger WeChat, etc.) details when they communicates with candidates, every time. Not only will it give you more access points (and push notifications on their smartphones), it will allow you to find more information to further leverage the conversation.

While email communication is still as popular as ever, social media and messaging platforms offer recruiters a chance of a more immediate conversation and engagement with candidates. The more information that you can learn from the social networks about someone, the better affinity you will have with them when you reach and connect with them during your communications with them.

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