Is investing in social recruiting the right decision for your SME? It's a question that I hear a lot of Recruitment Managers grappling to answer. As with much social recruiting advice you'll see me share, this question needs framing in light of your company objectives. Let's try to walk you through this and make sense of whether social recruiting is the right option for your SME.
First up, what are you being tasked to achieve? Critical hires needed within the next couple of months? Keeping your cost per hire low as the company grows? Positioning your SME as a great employer in the minds of the future stars you will want to recruit in the coming months and years?
Stop for a moment and try to answer this before reading any further...
Now let me share whether social recruiting is something you could rightfully be advised to engage in to meet each of these goals. Note that this advice is given with an SME recruiter in mind, since such companies are of the scale that they can't yet justify doing everything. If you're recruiting in a bigger corporate you'll probably use a dose of social for all these scenarios and more.
Let me start by saying that my first business was a successful job board business. With that medium I can say one thing with certainty; if you post the right roles for the job board's audience then you will undoubtedly make some low cost hires within a matter of months. What I can also say is that it's a game of roulette when it comes to determining which of the roles will be successfully filled that way.
For SMEs considering using social recruiting, I'd have to stress that exactly the same uncertainty of results holds true. Try to fill multiple roles this way and some will be successfully filled - and at low cost. But others will not. I would argue that that holds true whether you are approaching candidates direct on LinkedIn or advertising to a highly targeted audience on Facebook. The cost is incurred up front, without any certainty of outcome. For an SME that could really suffer if critical hires aren't made, this uncertainty of outcome simply isn't acceptable. By all means do some social recruiting and activate the networks of your existing staff - but also bring on board a quality contingent recruiter or two. They will not cost you anything unless they produce results - and so will fight to bring you those hires in the critical timescales needed.
The above rationale should make it absolutely clear that social recruiting has a big role to play when it comes to keeping your broader cost-per-hire low. The same I would argue is true of job board spend incidentally. Both will allow you to attract relevant candidates to apply for your vacancies. Both can be effectively monitored to ensure they are contributing to the goal of keeping your average cost per hire down. With a bit of experimenting, you'll be able to discover the approaches that consistently bring your SME a stream of the types of candidates you would want to hire.
I remember from my days of playing chess that the greatest players are those who are able to think several moves ahead. And so it is with SMEs that are really going places. There's a reason large corporates continue to advertise in newspapers and on airport billboards. The immediate hires they're attracting they could make far more cheaply via other channels. But they need to capture the aspirations of their target employees, make them more and more receptive to joining the team at some point in the future.
Social recruiting allows SMEs to do the same for their businesses, but targeting the micro demographics that will be most valuable to them. Imagine if those developers you can envisage you'll be crying out for 18 months from now were to be befriended by your recruiting team. That over the next 18 months they will consistently be exposed to your brand and interact with some of your team. How much more receptive do you think they would be to an employment approach by you or a fellow recruiter? It's a no brainer right? Well yes, provided your timescales for payback on these social recruiting activities aren't too skewed to the short term...
Hopefully these thoughts will have helped you to see the importance of setting your objectives from the outset - and to use these to guide whether social recruiting has a realistic prospect of delivering on your objectives. I hope I have demonstrated that the answer will often be yes, but only as a function of the timescales and certainty of outcomes that are acceptable to the business. If you'd like to get some more tailored advice on this for your SME, you're very welcome to schedule in a time to talk about social recruiting with one of our team. Or for more insights from me, do sign up for one of our series of free social recruiting Q&A sessions and training calls. Good luck - and I look forward to seeing your company conquering social media sometime soon!