Social media mistakes


Love it or loathe it; social media is a valuable recruitment tool. Used well and it will transport you into the candidate’s world and give you the opportunity to target a phenomenal number of potential employees.

Used badly and you risk damaging your company’s brand or even facing legal action. So inject a bit of savvy into your social media recruitment strategy with this guide to the biggest mistakes and how to avoid them.

Not having a plan

A survey by the ONS discovered that 90% of candidates who are perfect for your business are passive. Social media helps you reach these passive candidates, so not having a proper strategy is crazy. But it’s understandable, as Tony Restell, founder of explains; “For an industry guided by short-term targets and results, it takes a forward-thinking strategy to allow recruiters the time needed to properly leverage social channels.”

Even if time is short, though, don’t just farm it off to someone else. Jessica Miller-Merrell, CEO of Xceptional HR reveals; “I’ve had several interns at large Fortune 200 companies reach out to me as they were charged with developing a social recruiting strategy. This is a big mistake. These interns don’t understand the high level business strategy it takes to establish a recruiting presence.” So even if it takes longer than you thought, spend time on a plan and hopefully you will avoid the mistakes listed here.

Getting in hot water

A study conducted by Reppler of 300 recruiters found that 91% used social networking sites to screen candidates, 47% used social networking sites to screen candidates after receiving an application and an astonishing 69% rejected a candidate because of what they had seen on a social networking site.

Although social media is ridiculously useful in researching a candidate, Jessica Miller-Merrell advises caution. “Hiring managers have unrestricted access to the private and possibly protected information of candidates. One wrong search could be exposed, go viral and have a serious negative impact on your company long after the candidate interview.”

By all means visit a candidate’s social media profile, but be careful how you use the information.

Damaging your brand

There has been countless examples of companies experiencing social media howlers, such as an employee of Chrysler’s social strategy agency mistakenly making a colourful tweet regarding the driving abilities of Detroitians.

While gaffs like these are a good chuckle, don’t get too smug. Even a minor thing like not replying to comments can damage a brand. As Richard Dedor, Social Media Consultant says; “I have seen a few recruiters say to contact them in their LinkedIn profiles, only never to respond. When that happens, I blacklist you from my network and that is not good for a recruiter.”

Not understanding the format

It sounds obvious, but social media has to be social. Engage with people and make posts that aren’t just about jobs. A Twitter feed that is just a stream of job vacancies won’t attract many people. And ensure you tailor your messages appropriately. The professional tone of LinkedIn, for example, doesn’t work on Facebook.

If you are using dedicated recruitment tools, use them wisely. As Pete Kazanjy from TalentBin says; “a good example of poorly utilised social media recruiting is how recruiters use LinkedIn Recruiter. Rather than taking the time to sort out if the potential candidate is going to be a fit, they’ll just use their 50 InMails to blast anyone with a pulse.”

Scaring away candidates

When you’re busy scouring social media sites for candidates, it is easy to forget that the candidates you are hunting for aren’t necessarily looking for a job. So suddenly bombarding them with a job offer could scare them away.

Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade has advice for avoiding this. “Something as simple as sharing or liking a tweet can open the door for more meaningful engagement.”

While it is important to take part in discussions, don’t go too far. As Neisser explains, companies can “alienate prospects and customers by talking too much and listening too little.”

Also, although you want to embrace the more relaxed arena of social media, don’t get so relaxed that you start peppering your text with text speak. That’s the online equivalent of a dad dancing at a wedding.

Do’s and don’ts of recruiting with social media

Don’t get accused of unfair treatment; make the same searches at the same point for every candidate.

Don’t put your online recruitment strategy in the hands of a lower level employee.

Don’t expect instant results – social media excels at recruiting a few quality candidates.

Don’t post critical comments on social platforms.

Do have a social media strategy that creates a strong brand identity.

Do share content on your social platforms and engage in discussions.

Do update contact regularly.

Do adapt tone for whatever platform you are on.

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