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Social media has transformed how businesses recruit today. Consider that, on a monthly basis, more than 288 million people use Twitter and 300 million use Instagram. Even more, about 890 million a day, use Facebook.

Social platforms are marketing platforms, but hiring managers and recruiters are increasingly turning to them to find talent too. You, the small business owner, should be using social media to find employees as well.

It’s one solution to cutting the costs associated with more traditional methods of finding and hiring candidates. If you visit campuses and career fairs, you, of course, will need to pay for your travel and other expenses. Also the price of advertising (via digital and print vehicles) is growing costlier.

In addition, you can spend an enormous amount of it screening people via phone and in-person interviews. So social media recruiting can help you reduce those costs and also save lots of time — provided you do it right.

To help you save money as you search online for job candidates, you might consider the following when it comes to using social media to find employees.

1. Find Where Potential Employees Are

Find out which social media sites are the ones used by your potential hires. This requires that you do some research. Maybe you should consider asking your own employees, formally or informally which social media sites they prefer. Focus on the larger sites like LinkedIn as well as industry-specific social networks.

2. Don’t Forget Your Own Social Media Accounts

Social media is all about staying in touch with friends, as well as meeting new people. Remember to share with your own personal network that you are looking for candidates. The larger your personal network is the better. So be sure to connect with the proper influencers to expand your reach.

3. Social Media is a Two-Way Street

When using social media to find employees, don’t sit back and wait for job seekers to knock on your online door. Instead, make sure your profiles are updated and fresh. Also remember, corporate culture is what the new generation of employees wants to know about — so give them their fill. Communicate in a clear, honest way what it’s like to work at your company. Furthermore, the best approach is to constantly work on building relationships so you can access a pool of great candidates.

4. Create Social Media Value

Create a robust company profile and systematically tweet and post new job openings, as well as news about your company and industry. If you make your tweets and posts of genuine value to players in your industry, more people will follow you — and apply to openings about which you tweet.

5. Enlist Your Workforce

Allow your employees to share their experiences at your company with their friends via social media. Your employees can aid your recruiting efforts and help spread the word you’re your company is a great place t work. Insight into the organization provided by your actual employees tends to be a powerful way to reach job seekers.

Know it helps to learn about the differences between the “big three” – meaning LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter – so you know how to best utilize each.

6. LinkedIn is the Most Professional-Oriented of the Big Three

On this site, alone, you can find and meet and collaborate with qualified professionals. The site boasts more than 380 million members in over 200 countries and territories and claims that two new members join per second. Also, more than 39 million students and recent college graduates use LinkedIn, which is perhaps the most direct pipeline to new hires.

7. Facebook is the Largest

Of the social networking sites, Facebook is the biggest, with more than 1.5 billion users. It is intended to connect friends, family, and business associates. The model has expanded to include connections to organizations, businesses, and interests, which is worth noting. You can find where the passion resides for your business by spending time on Facebook. Once you gather some names, maybe a closer looker at their LinkedIn profile would help you to better evaluate potential hires.

8. The Strength of the Tweet

Twitter, the “microblogging” social networking service, is known for its 140-character tweets. Twitter is a handy way to spread the word in a multitude of ways. Tweeting needs to be done frequently, and the tweets need to be engaging enough to attract attention.

Now that you have the basics, the next step is how to better leverage each channel.

9. The Most Obvious Ways to Use LinkedIn

You can post job openings and search for candidates. You also can purchase job credits and pay less per job posting. You can sign up for LinkedIn Talent Advantage, which will provide you with tools specific for recruiting on LinkedIn, and you can use the LinkedIn Job feature. If you don’t have the budget to pay for job postings or join the Talent Advantage, you can still use the free services.

10. Join a Social Group

Aside from constantly building your LinkedIn connections, you can join groups that will expose you to potential candidates. For example, if you are always looking for writers, find a group that would have professional writers as members. Once you join relevant groups find ways to reach out to others by posting content or responding to what others post. Also try to watch people active in the group. They will usually ask interesting questions, as well as provide their answers to questions posted by others. Doing this could help you find good candidates.

11. Use Your Status Box

If you use your network activity box (or status box) to craft a post that says you are looking to hire people, you have yourself a free ad. Don’t forget to include contact info so interested parties can follow through.

12. Once You Find Someone Who Looks Promising

Once you find someone who looks promising, then you should review their profile, paying attention to how complete it is, for example. Also see if they have recommendations, noting how recent some of them are and whether they have reviews from peers, managers and colleagues versus only friends. Do they belong to the right groups — or do they belong to some that you weren’t aware of?

13. With Facebook, Turn to the Directory

Use it to search for users, pages, groups and applications. You can post job ads at a range of prices based on how long you want the ad to run, among other things. You need to provide basic information such as location, job category, subcategory, title, and description.

14. Facebook Pages: Free and Effective

A Facebook Page is a public platform that enables you to share your business and products with Facebook users. You can share that you are seeking to fill a position right on the page and then analyze those who reply to you.

15. Post a Facebook Ad

In creating such an ad, you can choose the exact audience to target. You can set the characteristics required of the people who will view your ad. This can be based on group’s age, sex and specific keywords. Facebook will then calculate different options for you, as well as a range of prices based on duration and ultimate reach. As an example of how to benefit from Facebook’ fine-tuning, if you seek to fill an entry-level position, you can target the ad to a younger age demographic. Just don’t make the criteria too specific or you may not get the applicants you want.

16. Tweet Your Job Openings

For example: “Seeking a Sales Rep in NYC. Salary is very competitive, apply at (your shortened url).”

You also can run a quick search on Twitter (search.twitter.com) to find if someone is discussing a keyword of interest. Searches also can be conducted by location, by industry or interest and more.

17. Use #Hashtags to Filter Searches

When using social media to find employees, include the hashtag with a keyword in your tweet and it will be instantly searchable. Examples of hashtags you might consider using: #job, #jobpost, #employment, #recruiting, #hiring, #career, #staffing, #salesjob, #NAJ (that is Twitter lingo for ‘Need A Job?’) Remember you are limited to 140 characters. Use as many hashtags as you want, but remember to be concise and engaging, too.

18. Analyze a Candidate’s Twitter History

When analyzing candidates on Twitter, you’d want to evaluate their activity to see how often they tweet, and what they tweet. Also worth considering is whether they fully utilize Twitter by retweeting tweets, say, versus tweeting about their own content only.

If you are seeking entry-level candidates, here are some tips to help you engage the college-graduate demographic on social media.

19. Be Specific and Informative

College students tend to focus on jobs that meet specific qualifications—and they tend to want to be truly interested in the specific job itself. The best way to engage them is to provide the most information you can about the position. You may want to focus on firing them up by telling “success stories” related to in-house promotions. Or maybe highlighting work-life balance is a strong way to go.

20. Cut Through the Noise

You need to be informative, but not wordy. And you need to pique their interest as well. Use pictures, video, even bright colors to grab their eye.

21. Avoid the Trite

Long lists of qualifications can be tiresome to read. You need to be creative when targeting college graduates. Use humor, maybe a more conversational tone as well. Talk to them on their level—but don’t talk down to them.

22. Engage in Hand-holding

Encourage them to ask questions. Let them know you are there to address any concerns they may have about taking the plunge. Here it’s very important to be responsive to them. This group needs to be cultivated carefully. They’ll turn away from anyone who tried to give them orders or is too harshly critical. You don’t want to seem to demanding, either.

There are countless ways to use social media to find new candidates. These tips can be used as your jumping off point. Shape them to fit your needs as well. Maybe concentrate on one platform, for example. And don’t forget that recruiting people will take time and may cost some money as well.

Social media is a difficult channel to master but can be highly rewarding in terms of helping you people your operation with the right professionals who enjoy working with you.

And for as many ways there are to use social media to find the next member of your team, there are definitely some things not to do.

Five Things Not To Do When Hiring Via Social Media

Using social media to recruit has two sides to it. We’ve mentioned the benefits. Now, here are the hiring mistakes to avoid:

1. Discriminate

State and Federal laws prohibit discriminatory hiring decisions based on color, religion, race, and more. Then, you need to be mindful of the hot-button issues like sexual harassment. Don’t inadvertently generate a problem, and do all you can to not discriminate.

2. Believe Everything

How do you know if what you read about someone on social media is true? Maybe the information is fraudulent or incorrect on some level, and this could be either intentionally or unintentionally on the poster’s part. Remember to check references, call past employers, even if only to confirm work history.

3. Forget a Hard Copy

It is wise to print out all the pages of social media content related to a hiring decision. In case of rejection, you also should print out that page as well in the event that your decision is challenged in some way.

4. Ignore Laws

Laws linked to social media recruiting processes are on the books. Even on social media, for example, companies that provide credit reports to employers—and employers using these reports also must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Be familiar with all the laws governing social media hiring so you can defend yourself if you have to.

5. Get Too Much Information

There is a lot of good information out there that will help you get to know your candidates. There is a double-pronged meaning to the word “good” in this sense. As a rule of thumb, it’s better not to sift too deeply through someone’s social media account, as you may learn answers to questions that would never arise during the typical hiring process.

What you know can hurt you. Many sites advise that you stay away from social media sites that provide more data than is needed to make a hiring decision. This will reduce, if not eliminate, the risk of a discrimination lawsuit.

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