Targeting candidates via social recruitment

by Iain Hopkins04 Apr 2017

Employers have only just started tapping into the potential of social recruitment – and with the burgeoning “gig economy” and the increased transparency afforded by social platforms it’s time to lift the game

“Employees are customers who buy work opportunities from the organisations they choose, using the currency of talent,” says Shakun Khanna, Senior Director - HCM Strategy & Transformation at Oracle, Asia Pacific. It’s a nice summation of the key talent challenges facing many organisations in the age of social recruitment. In short, it’s a candidate’s job market – and for employers, how they engage with these candidates will be critical.

Social recruitment, which encompasses the use of well-known platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, as well as the social media and mobile-enabled careers sites of employers themselves, has resulted in employer/candidate interactions which are faster, more efficient and more transparent than ever before.

However, as Khanna states, there’s work to be done on the side of employers if they are to keep up with the rapidly evolving ways in which candidates expect to engage with organisations.

“In the ASEAN region, a job search is typically done using a smartphone,” says Khanna. “However, in reality, just about one in five job searches start on a mobile device. The reason for this is because most organisations do not have what we call a consumer-grade social recruiting experience. This means they don’t have a great careers site, and those sites have not been optimised for social recruitment across multiple platforms and multiple devices. In fact, according to my rough estimate, only around 10-15% of organisations in this part of the world would have such a careers site.”

While having a ‘consumer-grade’ careers website is a basic imperative, Khanna suggests that the actual understanding of social sourcing is also very limited. “Even within organisations that have invested in state of the art social technology, the recruiters are not really up to the mark,” he says. “There are of course exceptions, but there is a gap in terms of this technology is being used effectively. In the 10-15% of organisations that do have the right technology, I’d say 30-40% are still hindered in their ability to use it effectively.”

So how can hiring and talent managers utilise these tools more effectively?

“When we talk about social recruiting it’s the ability of organisations to tap into the social networks of their existing employees or existing talent pool,” says Khanna. “For example, if I work for Oracle in a particular role, to find other similar people like me, the best place to look is in my social network. It could be my LinkedIn connections, for example, or it could be my Facebook friends or the people who follow me on Twitter. Today, Whatsapp groups are also very popular.”

Technology allows employers to tap into these employee connections, sometimes with the active participation of employees, and sometimes without. “For example, when I talk about LinkedIn, once the privacy rights are taken care of, a large part of this can be driven by the system itself,” says Khanna.

Khanna says the key is not just recognising that this pool of talent is worthy of tapping, but rather it’s about actively engaging with them. He suggests having a “comprehensive strategy” in place to engage these candidates is vital. This might include creating online content for these people, which might include relevant information about industry trends, interesting opinion pieces or profiles of people who are successful in their field. It’s about creating online communities. This of course is a “value-add” service – but importantly, it’s a way of staying on the radar of these passive candidates.

“Importantly, these passive candidates can be made active by encouraging them to participate in these groups and forums,” says Khanna. “The end goal is not to hire these people immediately, but to ‘warm them up’ for the longer-term.”

Khanna adds that the way in which an organisation will engage with these passive candidates has powerful repercussions for the employer brand. “The way we engage with these passive candidates in these communities also reflects the type of culture we hope to bring to the table, which in turn feeds into the employer brand and perception within the marketplace,” he says.

Technology is also helping HR to leverage gig economy workers. This rapidly growing pool of workers, who take on short-term work as freelancers or contractors via websites like freelancer.com, will increasingly become part of the talent make-up of organisations in coming years. However, Khanna warns that long contract processes within organisations may act as a barrier. “Organisations will need to review their policies to make it convenient for a hiring manager to be able to get the work done using talent from this channel, he says. “Technology will play an important role there in terms of streamlining the hiring process and making it easy for hiring managers to use these workers. The contractor value proposition – which is about having the right remuneration, the right processes and the right culture in place – will be critical for getting the right kind of people at the right kind of cost.”

For example, the Oracle Talent Acquisition Cloud enables recruiters to capitalise on the power of Cloud to source talent across multiple channels. Be it social media, talent communities or employee referrals, the platform is streamlined from beginning to end in order to provide the most efficient hiring process. Recruiters are able to run targeted marketing campaigns and improve candidate experience via social media and mobile experience.

Finally, in this social age, the candidate experience has become paramount. The emergence of websites such as Glassdoor, which enables employees past and present to post ‘reviews’ of their time with an employer, means that HR must be on guard to ensure candidates have a positive experience. Khanna sees HR taking a leaf out of consumer product and service companies, which will proactively monitor social media sites and take action if and when negative reviews or comments are made.

“The emergence of websites like Glassdoor has put a lot of pressure on employers,” says Khanna. “In the past couple of years social media has also put pressure on consumer product companies to be on their best behaviour – now this is coming into the employer space as well.”

For Khanna, the key is how an employer engages with their audience. Sitting and hoping that talent will come to you will not work. Employers, he says, must seek out and engage with desired talent – and they must be treated as if they are customers. “Today, it’s about how well you work with communities and how well the community engages with you. That interaction will drive your success. And it’s not just the case for recruitment but all HR providers, including training and HR consultancy providers. Talent management technology, learning and recruitment technology is all changing how HR delivers its services to the business.”