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Recruitment Strategy: Attract passive job seekers with social media

Social media has transformed the recruiting process across the board. HR departments use social media platforms to target candidates with niche skill-sets, to sort by geographical region or demographic, and to facilitate two-way communication throughout the hiring process. Social media is an optimal tool for targeting one type of candidate in particular: the passive job seeker.

Why passive job seekers?

A passive job seeker is defined as anyone not actively seeking work. They are already employed, and relatively comfortable at their own position. However, they would be open to a career change if the right opportunity fell into their lap—there’s always something better out there.

According to Recruiting Times, a whopping 44% of employed workers are passive candidates. These candidates might look at other career opportunities but almost never do anything about them. In other words, almost half your potential candidates are passive candidates. Passive candidates, if you can get them to apply, are the among the most desirable for your company—they have proven skillsets and proven longevity. They also are often less in-demand as many do not take interviews. If you only cater to active candidates, you sell yourself short. Passive candidates are an untapped goldmine of talent and experience.

Social Media

Social media is proven to be the best way to access passive job seekers. Social media profiles contain tons of information—more than resumes—and are frequently updated. To target passive candidates, you must understand their life goals, preferred browsing habits, hobbies, and external interests. The advertising tools offered by social media allow you to account for all these external factors with surgical precision.For example, through Facebook, you could hypothetically target newly-engaged white female Americans who previously purchased streetwear apparel who have a net-worth between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000. Social media also offers readymade networks, all in conversation with each other through Twitter conversations, LinkedIn posts, and Facebook shares. These mechanisms allow you to get the most relevant eyes on your brand. As Dylan Redmond for socialtalent writes, “your objective as a recruiter is to be noticed by your target audience.”

This is why, according to the Society For Human Resource Management, 82% of HR professionals cited recruiting passive candidates as the main reason why they use social media in their recruiting process. There’s simply nothing like it. However, each social media platform is different, and offers different strategies and tools to target passive job seekers.

Strategies and Tools

It’s unsurprising that LinkedIn, the most ostensibly career-oriented of all social media platforms, offers tools for recruiters to locate and contact passive candidates. LinkedIn allows you to sort potential candidates by skill level and experience. You can also target people who have received praise from current employees at your organization. Once you’ve found your target passive candidate, you can direct message them and make them aware of the role that you are recruiting for.

Direct messaging is not the best strategy on Facebook. Facebook shines as an advertising platform. Facebook allows you to target according to demography, skillsets, interests, and keywords. It has highly optimized algorithms to ensure the accuracy of your targeted postings. 

Twitter is unique as a recruitment platform because the latent potential for virality is much greater compared to other platforms. For instance, Facebook and Instagram are constituted by many micro-communities that are relatively “closed.” People tend to follow, friend, and group themselves with like-minded people that they mostly already know. Twitter, on the other hand, is a discursive platform and posts tend to circulate freely across many communities. When recruiting on Twitter, make sure you use hashtags, which will enable your post to be disseminated further and to potentially trend. Also, use humor and quick punchy visuals. This can make candidates pause their scrolling and view your ad.

The last aspect of social media marketing that transcends all platforms is the event. Interest-based groups as diverse as graphic design professionals, potential political candidates, hobbyist musicians, nursing students, and local sports leagues use a combination of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and MeetUp to promote their events. These events could include networking mixers, visits to relevant talks, or resume-building workshops. Recruiters should use these platforms to trace what kinds of events their ideal passive candidates are attending and reach out in person. Social media does not only need to be a digital endeavor—the goal is to always get that face-to-face meeting. 

Social media has changed the recruiting process. Passive candidates who were previously notorious for being difficult to reach are now accessible through a highly diversified recruitment strategy that includes analysis, direct correspondence, and targeted advertising.

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