The six mistakes recruiters make on social media



Here’s a post from one of our favourite writers Phil Welch – he often helps us create great work for our clients – and he’s also very interesting.

With the inexorable rise of first Facebook, then Twitter, LinkedIn and plenty more, there’s a massive audience of potential job candidates now using social media. So, if you’re a recruiter and you’re not using them, you’re missing out.


But it’s not just a matter of using social media. It’s about using it in the best way. Because using social media for recruitment requires a different skillset to the ones you’ve been using in the past.

What do I mean? Well, in the past if you had a job available, it was a case of broadcasting the fact – either through an ad in the local paper or trade magazine, or through word of mouth. In simplistic terms, you said “Hey, I’ve got this great job – are you interested?” and then waited for people to come to you. But the way social media works is different. It’s not a one-way conversation that you can switch on and off whenever you want. Instead, the buzzword in social media is ‘engagement’. Why? Because people are on social media many times a day. And once you’ve got their attention, you can’t just leave them alone – you have to keep their interest by giving them stuff they value. Interesting stuff. Entertaining stuff. Engaging stuff.

It seems that, while there are many recruiters who’ve embraced social media and are using it creatively to find, engage and recruit the people they need, some are still struggling to come to terms with the new era of social recruiting.

So, if you’re still feeling your way in social recruiting, here are my six things that you need to avoid:

1.    Only posting job opportunities

Whichever social platforms you use, this is the number one #fail when it comes to social recruiting. To engage your audience, you need to offer them something they’ll value. That could include opportunities, interesting and entertaining links, educational tips… In fact, anything that adds value and encourages them to keep looking out for what you’ll post next. Otherwise, they’ll soon switch off and either just ignore your posts or even stop Liking or following you.

2.    Being too corporate

There have been quite a few studies looking at what people respond to best on social media. And without exception, the thing they respond to best is other people. So, no matter what social media platform you’re using, don’t talk like an organisation.

This doesn’t mean you can go completely off-brand. But it does mean talking in your own voice, as a representative of your organisation. And talking about the kind of things that interest you as an individual – from graduate employment statistics and your CEO’s latest speech to whether you’d ever consider employing any of the contestants on The Apprentice.

In short, just be yourself.

3.    Only talking about yourself

And if you’re going to be yourself, try not to come across as a raging egotist. Yes, it’s your Facebook page, LinkedIn page or Twitter feed, but you’re allowed to talk about other things. Honest.

So, link to interesting stuff that other companies are up to – whether they’re recruitment-related or not. If you post stuff that interests you, then there’s a good chance it’ll interest your followers too.

4.    Only focusing on one social platform

Many recruiters tend to concentrate all their social media efforts on one platform (LinkedIn seems to be the most popular at the moment). But this is the equivalent of, in the past, advertising all your jobs in the Sunday Times.

As with all media, you need to do your research and decide which ones are the most appropriate for reaching your audience. If you’re likely to be recruiting people for a wide range of roles, then you should probably look at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter all together. But if you recruit into a very narrow, specialist field, there may well be a specialist platform that’s specifically used by people in your industry. The important point is to find out which platforms are used by your target audience.

5.    Not devoting enough time to it

Engaging your followers on social media is all about keeping them interested. So, once you’ve set up a social media account, the worst thing you can do is neglect it. If you use up a lot of energy getting a page up and running and gathering followers, then you need to keep that page up to date.

What does this mean in practice? Well, posting at least once a day should be the minimum. Also, set aside a couple of times a day where you can answer any questions from your followers – there’s nothing worse than contacting an organisation and not hearing anything back. And on social media, that’s magnified. So you need to reply as quickly as possible – even if it’s just to acknowledge that you’ve got the message.

This doesn’t mean you have to sit there keeping an eye on your feeds every second of the day. There are a number of useful tools such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck that’ll help you to automatically schedule updates to your posts throughout the day.

As for a maximum number of posts – well it just depends on how many interesting things happen on any given day. But there is such a thing as overkill, so don’t feel the need to post every ten minutes or so, or you’ll just clog up your followers’ feeds to the point where they’ll block you.

6.    Broadcasting, not engaging

This is the most difficult one to get right. Because old-style recruitment advertising was all about broadcasting – honing your message, getting it spot on and then sending it out in the hope that it would attract the right people.

But with social media, you need to keep updating your message. And sometimes, it won’t even come from you, but from your audience. It’s a two-way conversation, and there’s nothing your audience will enjoy more than telling you their opinions. So, why not ask them?

If you’re posting a link, tell them why you like it and ask them what they think. If you’re planning a campaign – for instance to recruit for a specialist role – and you’re not sure where to advertise, ask your followers. Some of them may have – or may know someone who has – the skills you’re looking for. And even if they don’t, they may well pass the opportunity on and help you find the best people.

The more you engage with your audience, the more they’ll regard you as an employer of choice. So when the right opportunity comes along, they’ll be more inclined to apply. 

So, those are my six key tips for social recruiting. I’m sure there are more – so what would you add to the list?

About Phil Welch

Phil is an award-winning freelance creative copywriter with 26 years’ experience in recruitment communications. From press advertising, brochures and online banners to email marketing, Twitter campaigns, full careers websites and Facebook game apps, he’s been there, done that and would have the T-shirt if they made it in his size. He has extensive experience of working with organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, developing employer brands and helping them make the most of the latest social technologies to recruit the right people.