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March 11, 2020

How to Use Social Media to Recruit and Hire: The Ultimate Guide

social media recruiting

Ask your Marketing Director, and they’ll be able to tell you exactly how many sales leads have come in via social media. 

But what about candidate leads?

Despite the fact that a whopping 84% of hiring orgs use social media to source and recruit high-quality candidates, the thought of looking for applicants in the same place you look for travel inspiration and cat memes makes many hiring execs uneasy. And we get it.

There’s a fine line between the kind of relevant, personalized social media recruitment that makes your dream candidates swoon—and well, looking like a total stalker. ✋

But at the end of the day, social media will help you find awesome new candidates. (Plus, it’ll help you spy on your competitors and help promote your company as the best place to work—but we’ll get to that later).

To help you on your way, we’ve pulled together this ultimate guide to social media recruiting to help you nail your strategy at every stage of the process, without ever feeling sleazy or sneaky. (Okay, maybe just a smidge sneaky. 🕵)

Why it’s SO worth becoming social media recruitment pro

Even with a Pulitzer Prize-winning cover letter, there are tons of things a social media profile can tell you that a job application just can’t.

From the Insta skills of a potential Social Media Manager to an applicant’s thought-provoking Linkedin posts that make them shine above the rest, tapping into social media can be a make-or-break deal for your next candidate.

And the best part? Everyone’s already joined the party. 🎉

According to a 2019 report by, 3.5 billion people are now logged on to some form of social media—that’s a massive 45% of the world’s population. 

*Pause for dramatic effect*

In the US, a large proportion of those social media lovers log-on on a daily basis (in fact over 50% of Facebook users visit the site several times a day)—which means the opportunity to connect with potential candidates on social media is HUGE.

Not convinced? Here are a few more reasons why social media recruitment is where it’s at: 

  • Social media is a great place to find hidden passive candidates.
  • It’s easy to get a feel for a candidate’s personality to find out if they’re the perfect culture-fit before you’ve even met.
  • Social media is free.
  • You can cut through the resume BS and check if your candidates actually walk the walk.
  • Social media recruiting makes it easy to connect with diverse generations (enter millennials and Gen Z).
  • Social recruitment reduces the need for cold calling and increases your social sell.
  • It works both ways—you can use social to show off your brand to potential candidates too. 

Social media recruiting best practices: Beware the bias trip-up 

We know we don’t need to say this, but we’re going to anyway. Be careful not to let bias enter the picture when engaging, screening or sourcing candidates through social media.

Looking at an applicant’s Protected Class information could get you into hot water.

At the Federal level, Protected Class information could include age, color, disability, genetic information, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex, and veteran status. And it varies at the State level, so you’ll want to take a close look at the rules in your state before going in.

While this will be much less of an issue on professional networking sites like LinkedIn and AngelList, other social media channels are rife with this kind of content. Unless your hiring managers have been trained on how to spot bias, this is probably a job best left to HR.

If you do decide to go for it, here are a few best practice social media recruitment tips to keep you legally sound:

  • Make sure to always check social media at the same point during each candidate check.
  • It’s not written in stone, but it is best practice to give candidates a heads-up if you plan to check out their social media presence. 
  • If you see anything that makes you question the professionalism or judgement of the applicant, take a screenshot and save it somewhere secure.
  • If you really want to ace social media recruiting best practices, wait until your top 5 applicants are in front of you then take a quick look at their social media profiles and posts to go after those deeper character insights that will help you seal the deal (or not) more effectively.

And remember, trolls, bots, and hackers are real. If you’re ever in doubt about something you’ve seen on a candidate’s profile, you can always ask them directly. After all, open and honest communication is what great recruitment is all about.

How to use social media to recruit employees: 8 steps to becoming a social media recruitment wizard 🔮

Step 1: Take time to create a winning strategy

Social media can be a bottomless pit when it comes to time and resources. 

That’s why you should treat it with the same TLC you would every other aspect of your biz—and make the effort to create a stellar social media strategy.

Grab a coffee, sit down and really think about how social media recruitment could work for you. Then get your plan down on paper. 

Here are some key questions to ask as you’re designing your social media recruitment strategy:

  • Analyze your starting point: Take a look at your current social media footprint. Are you in the mix? Are you active in the community you’re trying to engage or are you more of a lurker?
  • Aim for the stars ✨ (or not): Ask yourself what it is you want to get out of social media recruitment. What’s your end-game? Is social media the ultimate goal, or just a tiny cherry on top of your existing recruitment cake?
  • Think about your tactics: What type of roles are you recruiting for? If it’s an entry-level low-skill job, sending out some “Apply now” memes might do the trick—but if you’re thinking more long-term you might want to develop an online community (more on that later). 
  • Get your toolbox ready: Which tools are going to work best for you? Do you already have an online presence you can utilize or are you starting from scratch?

Step 2: Choose your social media recruiting tools wisely

While there are plenty of tools out there to help with your social media recruitment, we’re a fan of keeping it simple.

Don’t get us wrong. There’s definitely a place for Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat in your recruitment strategy—but for the sake of your ever-loving time (and sanity) these social channels are best used as an additional layer to support targeted outreach and screening after you’ve narrowed down your best options.

Because why not make things easier for yourself?

Rather than frantically splitting your time between X number of social channels, start with the trusted sources. 

Make things easier for yourself by choosing your social media recruiting tools wisely.

Here are some examples of the best social media recruitment tools:

  • Linkedin: Spare yourself some time and let candidates come to you. Candidates go to Linkedin purposefully to intentionally position themselves as experts in their field and engage on work-related topics—so all you have to do to source some A* candidates is work Linkedin into your daily social media recruiting strategy, and voila! 👌
  • Breezy’s Chrome extension: Already a Breezy user? You can use our Chrome extension to import top prospects from LinkedIn, Xing, AngelList, Dribbble, or Github in one click.

Breezy’s Chrome extension makes it easy to import top prospects from LinkedIn, Xing, AngelList, Dribbble, or Github.

Step 3: Build your brand

News flash: it’s time to change the way you use social media. 

A recent Deloitte study showed millennials and Gen Zers are feeling uneasy about life (read: information overload alongside life-admin overload).

But what does a world of unsettled millennials mean for your company?

Well, when it comes to social media recruitment: it’s your job to make your candidates feel safe. 😍 That means no more half-effort attempts at Facebook, no more hard sell and definitely no more spam.

Here are a few tips to reassure potential candidates you’re the new, warm and fuzzy breed of employer 💖: 

  • Lose the hard sell: Don’t hard sell. Ever. 
  • TRUST is your new favorite word: Trust should underpin everything you do, which means building a reputable, authoritative brand that does what it says on the label. 
  • Focus on engagement: Numbers are important but it’s the tangible connections you should really be aiming for now. Engagement helps you build relationships—and will ensure people remember you.
  • Consistency is key: It’s time to hone your brand voice. Use one voice, be open about your messaging and make sure everything you do aligns with your company values.

Which brings us on to #4…

Step 4: Keep your communications sleaze-free

At the end of the day, there are only two types of recruitment strategies: Recruitment that’s all about finding the perfect fit, and recruitment that’s all about hitting a number.

Star talent can always sniff out the difference.

Between spammy DMs and connection requests from complete strangers—social media can be a BIG can of worms, both for employers and candidates. 

Make the experience worth it for everyone by going in with the right mindset.

You’re there to find—and secure—the best of the best, and that means using a personal, relevant approach from your very first touchpoint to your last. 😍

Here are a few sleaze-free ways to get to know new prospects:

  • Work on building a community—prioritize building strong relationships with potential candidates.
  • Get current employees onboard to share company posts—when it comes to recruitment, chances are they already know your next unicorn candidate.
  • Participate in online discussions (LinkedIn Groups, Slack Forums, Facebook Groups).
  • Comment on your prospects’ public posts.
  • Share or retweet something they’ve said.
  • Get introduced via a mutual connection.
  • Invite them to a relevant group, webinar or event.

Once you have a legit reason to send them a message, don’t wait! Make your friend or connection request asap and always add a personalized message on why you think they’d be a great fit.

Not sure what to say? Check out our awesome suggestions here in Step #7.

Step 5: Know what you’re looking for

Social media recruitment can be daunting for first-timers. 

There’s a whole lot of info out there, and you want to avoid bias at all costs—so when faced with someone’s Linkedin or Twitter profile, how can you dig deep to find what you really need?

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What are the candidate’s personal passions and motivations?
  • How does your brand message align with those?
  • Do you offer perks and benefits you know they’ll love?
  • What do their posts say about their character?
  • Does this person love their co-workers? Or do they rant about their work situation?

Above all, avoiding bias is key. Just because you don’t like their Insta-style doesn’t mean they won’t be good for the role. If you’re worried you’re judging to harshly, ask a colleague to take a look too.

Step 6: Use the right recruitment metrics

We live in awesome technological times. 

Ten years ago, if we said you could connect with a specific pool of potential candidates directly whenever you want, you’d probably have told us we’re crazy—but that’s exactly what social media targeted ads let you do. 

Gone are the days of ‘post and pray’ hiring—instead you can define your parameters and target specific groups. PLUS you can also use insights to really rev your hiring engine by adding tangible KPIs to your campaign so you know its working.

There are plenty of metrics for recruiters to sink their teeth into, but here are a few that really count:

  1. Inbound Traffic: It’s been said ‘if you aren’t growing, you’re dying’. Here are two easy ways to check which way your stats are headed: 
  • Breezy’s pipeline analytics are the quickest way to measure inbound web traffic from social—so you can see which social networks are driving the most views, referrals, and applicants. 
  • Your web analytics are also a great way to track inbound traffic from social posts.
Breezy’s pipeline analytics make it easy to measure inbound web traffic from social

  1. Share of Voice: Share of voice is an advertising metric adopted to social notably by Jay Baer. It requires you to compare your brand’s social efforts to your competitors’ in a measurable way. Consider post volume, following, community involvement, and number of employee referrals. If you’re recruiting in extremely competitive markets, conduct this research before designing your social media recruitment strategy.
  2. Reach: Reach is the number of people who’ve been exposed to a post. To see your true reach, track the number of mentions, re-tweets, comments and shares to see how far your message is going—all the main social platforms will track this via insights.
  3. Cost per candidate: Once you get candidates in the mix, attribute your social marketing just like advertising spend. If you’re not set up to track hours, it can be hard to get exactly right. Breezy can keep track of who sourced the candidate and which network created the most inbound candidates.

Note: Remember your bias trip-up here. Facebook has been penalized for targeted ads in the past and most social platforms no longer allow you to target people by race, age or gender. Even so, pay attention to make sure your parameters are totally kosher. 

Step 7: Have fun experimenting

Change is the spice of life—and that’s why experimenting with new social media recruitment techniques is so darn fun. 🥳

From behind-the-scenes videos to hilarious recruitment memes, getting familiar with the creative side of hiring is what we love best.

And it’s not just about what you post—choosing where you post is half the fun.

Put a couple hours aside to experiment with different platforms and research what works best. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Linkedin: The professional network we’re all familiar with lets you connect with people on a work-basis and check out their resumes. 

What it does well: Blog posts and work-related images. Linkedin’s also a great place to create a group and let the candidates come to you.

What it doesn’t do well: Spam. Plus videos and headlines with questions (apparently).

  • Twitter: You don’t get faster-paced social media than Twitter. The well-loved platform is used by over 134M people per day to find out what’s happening in the world in real-time. 

What it does well: Conversational, personable, funny tweets, GIFs, images and videos.

What it doesn’t do well: Stale URL-less tweets with no images (basically, Twitter is all about having fun 🙌). 

  • Facebook: The age-old favorite, Facebook is like an old friend with regular updates that make them even more awesome.

What it does well: Facebook’s algorithm is all about engagement. That means creating long-form posts with images and videos that people can’t resist responding to. Facebook stories and live video are also fun to experiment with.

What it doesn’t do well: Spam. 

  • Instagram: Insta is the new, good-looking platform on the block. It’s all about images and videos—whether you choose to write lots or little alongside your image is up to you. This is one platform that speaks volumes for your brand. Think of it as an online magazine or store-front.

What it does well: Well thought-out insta-feeds that reflect your brand in every way. Insta stories and live video are also a hit.

What it doesn’t do well: Repetition, random unrelated posts and lack of variety. 

Try a little social media recruitment tenderness

Okay, we admit social media can be a major time-suck—but if it’s a means to hire new people you wouldn’t find otherwise, it’s totally worth your time.

It’s important to remember, once you’re on a roll the whole process becomes a lot easier—plus everyone’s doing it, and you don’t want to be the last to the party, right? 🎉🎈

So—before we go, let’s take a second to share some social media love. 

Because where else can you log on at any time of day to a tool that’ll connect you with potential candidates all over the world and help analyze your engagement—for free?

*Appreciative pause*

Basically, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it—so remember, no matter how you decide to weave it into your plans, social media recruitment will always be worth the effort.