Six ways to recruit with Facebook

LinkedIn remains the kingpin of online recruitment, but Facebook is a bigger network, with five times the users.

According to a 2011 survey by recruiting software platform company Jobvite, Inc., 84% of job seekers have a Facebook profile, and 63% of them have used Facebook for at least one job-hunting activity.

Watch: Tod Maffin talks about the Facebook generation

Facebook friends also refer jobs to one another and share opportunities. And some recruiters are experimenting with BranchOut, a professional networking application on Facebook that boasts more than 25 million users and 400 million professional profiles.

Here’s how to maximize Facebook’s potential to recruit top-notch talent.

1. Gauge your online reputation
The best way to see how you’re being perceived online is to visit the source: go ahead and Google yourself! What are the online sentiments surrounding your brand? Is your organization viewed as conservative or outgoing? What are staff, former staff and customers saying about you? Your online reputation audit should include customer review sites such as Yelp and geo-location networks such as foursquare, as well as the usual suspects (e.g., Twitter and Wikipedia).

2. Prioritize page design
Online and off-line, first impressions matter. Your digital presence should reflect how you want to brand your organization, conveying your company’s values, internal culture and HR policies in a way that resonates with the types of employees you’re looking for. Any images used on your organization’s Facebook page should be in line with your overall branding and communicate the right visual message. Facebook has strict guidelines for brand pages, so make sure to abide by them so that you don’t run the risk of having your page removed.

3. Create a recruitment page
Depending on the size and nature of your organization, you might consider creating a dedicated page for recruitment purposes, separate from your main company page. This can be a great way to foster interest and tout the benefits of being an employee. Just make sure you have the resources to maintain it: there’s nothing worse than abandoned Facebook pages.

4. Use targeted ads
Facebook ads use detailed filters to allow you to reach targeted demographic groups. These filters are so detailed, in fact, that you can even create ads to target your competitors’ employees.

5. Seek participation and engagement
The more you appeal to what interests your potential hires, the more success you’ll have in recruiting them. Engage people at every opportunity, and be responsive, informative and personable. Staying relevant and on brand is crucial.

Drive engagement and cultivate relationships through videos, photos and real-time dialogue on your page. Present your policies on work/life balance, cultural values and attitudes. Share company blog posts, job postings and announcements; interact with students and recent grads, and find out what’s important to them. Put your mission or values statement into practice.

6. Take advantage of page features
Facebook pages incorporate tools that can be useful in recruiting, and these tools have been further enhanced with the site’s Timeline page redesign. Stories form emotional connections with people, and Timeline allows you to publish compelling stories about your organization’s history, significant events and achievements. Pin highly relevant content to the top of your Timeline for more prominent positioning.

Hosting a hiring fair? Want to get soon-to-be-graduates thinking about you as a potential employer? Spread the word by posting the information to Facebook Events. You can also target possible attendees with an ad.

Finally, be accessible. Make sure that you have enabled messaging—both commenting on your “wall” and private messaging to your Facebook mailbox—so that potential employees can contact you.

Facebook can be a valuable recruitment tool, but be sure to respect the boundaries between public and private. Taking an opt-in approach with candidates works better than sending private messages from a recruiter’s account that may be perceived as invasive. Let candidates come to you—but make sure the content of your page keeps them engaged so they’ll stick around.

Tod Maffin is president and strategy lead of engageQ Digital Communications.

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