Google+ is the great recruiting anomaly. It has more active users than LinkedIn. Rich profile data. Offers access to highly valuable candidate niches. Best of all, it's completely free to use. Yet recruiters have been slow to come on board.
This may well come down to a simple lack of knowledge about how to recruit on Google+. That's why we've teamed up with TalentCulture to help inform recruiters about the essentials of recruiting on Google+. Both our companies are social recruiting advocates and we wanted to help accelerate the adoption of Google+ by recruiters. Once you're up and running on Google+ do follow us for more insights like these! (Social-Hire here and TalentCulture here)
An Overlooked Goldmine of Talent
One reason for the slow uptake of Google+ must surely be that recruiters question whether it can help them hit their recruiting targets. So let's start off by addressing this concern.
Here is a platform that has more active users than LinkedIn. Its total user base is over 1 billion people, making it second only to Facebook in terms of potential reach. Plus its active user numbers are considerably greater than LinkedIn's, meaning there's more chance of candidates responding to your approaches or updates in a prompt manner.
Google+ also offers recruiters access to some highly valuable candidate niches. Research user demographics with the CircleCount tool and you'll see Google+ has strong adoption amongst IT professionals and amongst students, to name just a couple that you may be excited to tap into.
Not all users have filled out their profiles as comprehensively as they have done on LinkedIn, but this is offset by the richness of information a recruiter can glean. By seeing the content users have shared and the
groups communities they are active in, recruiters can learn a lot about a prospective hire and find ways to engage them most effectively.
Hopefully I'm starting to whet your appetite as to what's possible in terms of recruiting on Google+? The only issue I can see is that some recruiters may have become hooked on the enterprise tools that LinkedIn provide. It's true that if you just want to quickly research a long list of candidates to approach and then quickly fire off messages to your targets, Google+ will seem arduous and time consuming by comparison. But if your company's success hinges on reaching a higher proportion of those targets - and candidates that are inevitably missed on LinkedIn - then adding Google+ to your recruiting armour is absolutely essential.
The two approaches you are most likely to be interested in are:
- Building Your Recruiting Brand on Google+
- Sourcing Candidates on Google+
... I'll be concentrating on the first of these - plus suggesting articles that cover the sourcing angle - after having walked you through setting up your profiles on Google+
Setting Up Your Google+ Profiles
You can think about your presence on Google+ in similar terms to your presence on LinkedIn. Individual recruiters can have their own profiles and be active on the site in their own right. Company brands can also have their own company profiles and recruiting presence on Google+.
The huge advantage over LinkedIn is that company profiles on Google+ can do almost everything that individual profiles can do. As a company or recruiting brand you can be active in communities (think groups), you can circle other people (think follow), comment on their posts and +1 them (equivalent to a 'like'). As we'll talk about in the section on building your recruiting brand, this allows you to be proactive in building your recruiting brand's following - something which on LinkedIn can only be achieved through paid advertising. The significance of this is huge, particularly for any recruiters trying to operate on a limited budget. Company profiles also elicit from people a different reaction than a personal recruiter profile, so it's well worth investing time in creating and maintaining both.
So the first step is clearly going to be setting up both your individual and your company recruiting profiles. Then we'll want to understand the workings of Google+ so that we know how to use these profiles in an effective manner.
There have been lots of outstanding posts written about how to create a visually appealing, keyword rich and targeted profile. So in the interests of brevity, for those needing help with setting up profiles I would point you to the following excellent resources:
>> How to create a Google+ profile (for individual recruiters)
- see the excellent step-by-step walkthrough on Google+ and further ideas in this Google+ profile tips post by Hallam Internet
>> How to create a Google+ company page (to represent your recruiting or employer brand)
- again the company page walkthrough on Google+ is a great starting point and you'll also find this video by Google+ expert Martin Shervington a helpful resource.
For now, let's turn our attentions to some of the basics you'll need to know once you've created your profiles.
How To Recruit on Google+: The Basics
Getting organised. One of the things I love about Google+ is the ability to follow people in a manner that allows you to be hyper targeted (which in Google terminology is"circling" someone...). On your profile (under 'People') you can create as many circles as you like, named in the manner you choose. Other people on Google+ know when you have circled them, but they don't know the name of the circle or circles you put them into.
As a recruiter, you can therefore create circles for each area of the business you recruit for, or for each job title in your business, or any other grouping that will help you to get organised.
Once you have circled people in this way, you can then view your homepage and filter to show only updates from a certain circle. Similarly, when you share updates you can choose to share them only with certain circles. In this way, you can really have Google+ tailored for whatever is most important to your business at any point in time.
Being smart. Google+ is no different to LinkedIn or Twitter in the sense that the majority of profiles you'll visit aren't what could be called "active" users of the site. There's the scope to lose a lot of time circling and messaging people who aren't likely to see your interest in them anytime in the next hours or days. So as with all social platforms, you always have to have one eye on whether what you're doing is reaching real engaged users or simply disappearing into the Google+ abyss.
Having said this, one of the huge advantages of Google+ in my experience is that active users typically respond or react in a matter of hours - much the same as you'd be used to if you're an engaged user of twitter. For anyone who's grown tired of waiting for a response on LinkedIn, only to get one months later, this is a real breath of fresh air!
This of course stands to reason. A logged in Google+ user sees their notifications flag every time they visit Google, YouTube, Gmail ... or any of Google's other web services. For most businesspeople, it's pretty hard to go through a day's work without being exposed to these notifications multiple times.
Getting Noticed on Google+
Which brings me nicely onto a look at the notifications feature. If we want to be noticed, we need to know what triggers our activities appearing in someone else's notifications stream, in a way that's natural and appealing - rather than aggressive and spammy. The following are worth noting:
- Adding someone to your circles or adding them back (reciprocating them having added you) appears in notifications.
- Commenting on someone's post, resharing it or +1'ing a post appears in notifications - of these, comments are most likely to be noticed.
- +1'ing a comment someone's made appears in notifications and is a good way of acknowledging those who are giving life to a discussion; it's also good for acknowledging you've seen a comment someone left you.
- Inviting your circles to join a community or to attend an event or live video broadcast (hangout on air) appears in notifications.
- A summary of all new posts into a community appears in community members' notifications
- Sharing a post with specific circles (rather than just publicly) results in your introduction to the post appearing in the notifications of those you targeted.
On this last point, it should be stressed that lots of people who have circled you will see your post if you just share it publicly, as active users tend to check their homepage frequently. Sharing with specific circles and therefore bringing the post into someone's notifications can become tiresome if not done sparingly. So only do this for your most valuable posts (valuable for those following you rather than valuable for you) or you risk losing "followers" or having them tune out your updates.
Having established how you can gain visibility with your profiles, let's turn to look at how you can actually leverage this to build up a strong candidate following - either for yourself as an individual recruiter, or for your recruiting or employer brand page.
Building Your Recruiting Brand on Google
Let me start by showing you how quickly it's possible to grow a following - and generate engagement - on Google+. This interactive chart (thanks again Circlecount) shows how my own profile grew at a phenomenal rate in the 10 months after I embarked on building a Google+ presence. You'll notice that both my follower count and the engagement on my posts accelerated dramatically once I started putting the right approach in place.
Generally speaking, my recipe for success on any social platform is as follows:
- Build profiles that ooze with valuable insights and quality content, so that people who come across them are given a compelling reason to follow you.
- Figure out ways on that social platform to identify the users who are i) active, ii) interested in the things your profile will become known for and ideally iii) already demonstrating that they like to share and comment on other people's posts.
- Make time to engage with your followers and fellow group / community members so that you give your profiles a real sense of personality and your followers a real sense that they "belong" to a community of sorts.
Building profiles that are valuable to your target audience (1) is not really specific to Google+. If you need help figuring this out - and it should be part of your overall social media strategy as a recruiter - I would direct you to a recent guest post I wrote for Totaljobs.
Engaging with followers once you've won them (3) is also not specific to Google+. But the basic principle (on any social platform) is that the more personal interactions someone has with your recruiting brand (or with you as an individual recruiter), the more inclined they will be to look out for - and engage with - your future updates. It's a step that I often see people fail to address and that can leave you with a sizeable following, but of candidates who don't really click on many of your updates or ever share them with their networks.
It's identifying the right people to try and engage with (2) that is crucial. This is true on all social platforms, but particularly so on Google+ where the overwhelming majority of users are only occasional users (it's not dissimilar to Twitter in this respect).
Just as on twitter, I suggest searching Google+ for the type of content you intend to share and any related hashtags. For example, a search for the URL social-hire.com on Google+ brings up shares of content from that website – plus all the people who’ve +1’d the content, reshared it or commented on it. Taking this approach, we know the types of content these people are interested in, we know they are active on Google+ and we know that they are the types of users who will engage with other people’s content. You’ll soon be circling people who have a high propensity to circle you back, be interested in what you’re sharing and inclined to re-share your posts. Bullseye!
Experiment and Incorporate Strong Visuals and Personality
It's well worth keeping an eye on the "What's Hot" section of Google+ to see the types of content that are generating the greatest user response. At the time of writing, I would say that posts incorporating striking or entertaining visuals are generating strong reactions. Similarly, occasional posts that reveal your personality or that show that your brand has a human side are also strong performers. Here's a recent example from my own profile which combines both these points and has attracted a lot of shares and interest.
You should keep an eye on what is working well for you and what is not though, as these things change over time. Also note that some Google+ Communities are particularly vibrant, while others are subdued - and some that were vibrant simply die a slow death if the founders cease to manage and nurture them. So always be trying to adjust your approach to reflect what's producing results. Incidentally, if you'd like some Google+ Communities to get you started I can recommend TalentCulture's World of Work community for those working in Recruiting / Talent / HR; our Social-Hire Job Search Advice + Recruiter Contacts community; Andy Headworth's Recruiting with Google+ community as a specialist recruiter help forum and the Plus Your Business! community for broader Google+ help and insights.
It’s only by monitoring reactions to what you are posting – and where you are posting it – that you’ll be in a position to adjust your strategy and maximise your effectiveness. Don’t assume that you can just replicate what’s working well on LinkedIn, or that what works well now will work well a year from now.
Sourcing Candidates on Google+
It would require a sizeable post just to do justice to the topic of sourcing candidates on Google+. Since others are more expert in this topic than I am, I will simply point you to some recommended resources. To dip your toe in the water and get a feel for the types of candidates you could reach out to on Google+, it's certainly worth taking a few minutes to have a play with Social-Hire's candidate search tool.
Anyone serious about sourcing will want to take this to the next level though and so I recommend taking a look at SourceCon's excellent Everything You Need to Know to Source Candidates on Google+. For a shorter read you could also turn to point 3 of Andy Headworth's 10 Ways To Use Google Plus For Recruitment.
I hope I've inspired you to think more seriously about using Google+ as a recruiting tool. I hope also to have made it easier for you to get started and to figure out how Google+ can be part of your wider recruitment branding (and sourcing) strategy. If you need more help getting your social strategy right, you're of course welcome to schedule a call with us to walk through the things you could be doing differently and more effectively as a recruiting team or recruitment business. Otherwise, I look forward to engaging with you on Google+ in the coming weeks!