Photo by: Jason Howie / CC BY

Social media has become an important part of the job search process for today’s jobseekers — whether it’s creating a professional profile online, learning about job openings or researching employers. Social recruiting has therefore become an integral part of any good hiring strategy and many human resources professionals are now using popular social media platforms to source and engage candidates.

From Twitter to Facebook and even Instagram, more and more global development organizations are investing time into maintaining social media accounts specifically for their career and recruitment efforts. In order to reach a younger and digital savvy pool of candidates, social media is “critical” said Jackie Amoako, an international staffing specialist for West Africa with World Vision International.

“In terms of the talent I seek to attract I have to diversify my sourcing methodology,” says Amoako who also stresses the need to “be creative” to reach her target audience. “You cannot do without social media,” Amoako adds.

Here are five things HR professionals should know for developing their social media talent strategy.  

1. Content is key

Social media can be an effective tool for reaching a diverse and international audience but your followers will lose interest if your posts are just a constant stream of job adverts which are not relevant to them. Sharing a mixture of interesting and fresh content is important to engage active job seekers as well as passive candidates. Szilvia Nagy, recruitment associate with UNHCR, manages the Twitter account for the agency’s talent outreach and acquisition unit as well as their LinkedIn page. According to Nagy, the success of social media for candidate outreach comes down to creativity.

“I realized when we start getting more creative — posting some video content, showcasing company culture with staff testimonials — the reaction is good and the follower base is increasing accordingly,” she adds.

HR professionals who are successful in their social outreach and recruitment activities know that a career page shouldn’t only consist of career content — share links to events and news articles, and take advantage of the opportunities to post videos or host live chats on different social media platforms.

2. Maintain an online presence

Posting jobs adverts on an ad hoc basis is also not likely to build a great online following. Most young people are now active on social media on a daily basis and therefore expect fresh content and regular communication.

Social media allows Nagy to stay in touch with potential candidates and to learn about their expectations. According to her “they expect consistency” and she has taken this into account when developing the social media strategy for the unit. Nagy tweets four times a day from the UNHCR’s career Twitter account, sometimes scheduling posts ahead of time when she is out of office and ramping up the team’s online presence when the need arises for certain positions and projects. Jobseekers often reach out to her via social media for information on the organization or guidance on the job application process, and she uses these platforms to get the conversation started.

Amokoa agrees that social media is the easiest and most effective way to kick start communications with potential candidates. Based in Ghana, where 70 percent of the population now have access to the internet and many people are active on at least one social media platform, this is increasingly the way candidates are reaching out to her.

3. Focus on employer branding

Today’s job seekers want to know about an employer's reputation before applying for a job or accepting an offer and they often turn to social media to learn about organizations and the staff working there. Social media is therefore a great space to show why your organizations is the kind of place candidates would want to work, says Amoako.

“It’s all about sharing the culture, sharing the values, showing how people in the organization work and interact with each other,” she adds.

Hillary Jenkins, talent acquisition specialist with World Vision International, maintains active Twitter and LinkedIn accounts which she uses not just to advertise job openings and source candidates but to promote the employer brand. The organization also has a two person employment branding team who manage profiles on different social media platforms and are dedicated to creating “a community of current and potential World Vision International employees,” explains Jenkins.

HR professionals are increasingly using social media to share testimonials from staff ambassadors. Candidates want to see what it’s like to work for an organization but they “are looking for authenticity,” says Nagy. They don’t want to hear from the chief executive officer or from an HR manager she adds and “social media allows you to create that personal touch.”

4. Get social media savvy

Most organizations have one person, perhaps even a team, dedicated to their social media strategy and implementation. This internal expertise, along with analytics, can help HR teams understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to outreach activities. Amoako works with the social media team for the organization’s West African operations to coordinate content across the different social media platforms and ensure language is aligned. Improving your understanding of social media systems and management is also important she says to generate the results you expect.

Look for keywords within the job description to create hashtags which match your ideal candidate suggests Nagy. “Try to address geographic and gender diversity, and target functional groups through use of hashtags like #supply or #ICT,” she suggests. And with recruitment professionals using strategic keywords to search for candidates, job seekers should ensure their profiles are up-to-date and “include keywords that a recruiter might search for,” advised Jenkins.

5. Amplify your reach

Nagy found that working with partners has helped amplify the outreach of posts from the social media accounts she manages. It helped boost social media views and drive traffic to the careers website where candidates could then apply. Her advice is to work with colleagues and partners who are active on social media and can help increase your organization’s influence and build up an online following.

Over the next month, Devex, together with our partners the Career Development Roundtable and UNFPA, will take a look at how human resources can be a real driver for innovation, efficiency, and impact in global development. Join us as we share the people and ideas leading the next generation of HR by tagging #HRLeads.

About the author

  • Emma Smith

    Emma Smith is a Reporter at Devex. She covers all things related to careers and hiring in the global development community as well as mental health within the sector — from tips on supporting humanitarian staff to designing mental health programs for refugees. Emma has reported from key development hubs in Europe and co-produced Devex’s DevProWomen2030 podcast series. She holds a degree in journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University and a master's in media and international conflict. In addition to writing for regional news publications, she has worked with organizations focused on child and women’s rights.