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ZD Guides: Should You Recruit Using Social Media?

22nd September 2023

Should You Recruit Using Social Media?

What are the advantages in using social media to recruit? And what are the risks? Here’s the ZD Guide.

We’re a retail recruiter. We spend our days either recruiting for brands who don’t have the time or resource to do it themselves, or working with brands who have some resource but need a little extra. 

Of course, you know as well as we do that there’s an alternative. You could simply keep all your recruitment in-house. In fact, some of our clients do that most of the time. They just get in touch when they have specialist or volume recruitment needs.

Like us, they recruit in a variety of ways: job boards, online advertising, staff referrals, their own website. Also like us, they’ll use social media. 

Social media is a vital tool for us. LinkedIn is our second home and you’ll struggle to find a recruitment company that doesn’t make extensive use of it. But it’s one thing for a recruitment company to use social media/social networking on your behalf to find you fresh talent because, most of the time, you’ll be hidden behind the recruiter’s cloak of anonymity. If we share a job via social media, it comes from us; candidates won’t know who the job is with until they’re deeper into the process. That gives you certain advantages.

If you share a job on social media, it comes from you, and that can change things in lots of ways. So the question is, should you be using social media to recruit?   

What are the advantages of using social media for recruiting?

  1. Reach a huge audience

    We won’t bore you with lots of statistics to tell you something you already know: social media can connect you with an enormous audience. According to Statista1, Facebook still rules with almost 3 billion active users each month, but even relatively small fry like Snapchat still rack up 635 million users a month. Inevitably, when you post your ad on social, a lot of people will see it.


  2. Reach passive candidates

    Most people aren’t looking for a new job, so you won’t find them trawling job sites. But if you could dangle the carrot of your job in front of everyone and show them what’s on offer, some might just get interested. Almost uniquely, social media has the ability to reach these passive candidates.

  3. Reduce your jobs board spending

    We’d put serious money on betting that, at one time or another, you’ve had the conversation about your job board spend. Everyone we speak to feels job board costs are too high. Most feel they deliver too many CVs that don’t quite cut it.

    It’s fair to say that things are changing. New challengers are making job boards far more effective (and far more cost-effective), but its also true that organic (that is, not paid) social media recruiting can help you reach candidates without shovelling money to traditional job boards.

  4. Reach your target audience

    Using social media to recruit is going to lead you to candidates who use that particular social media platform. Post your ad on your Tik-Tok channel and you’ll inevitably be targeting a largely Gen Z audience. As we’ll discover, however, you need to be extremely careful about such approaches.

  5. Background check candidates

    As the recruitment process progresses, social media could be a valuable screening tool to help you check the information a candidate has given you. As we’ll see below, though, there are risks here and recruiters must screen carefully and consistently.

What are the disadvantages of using social media for recruitment?

  1. Drowning under the response

    Reaching a huge audience is a good thing. Unless a lot of people in that audience all decide they want to work for you. That’s when you run the risk of being swamped by a huge number of CVs, many of them of questionable quality.

    One of the risks of using social media for recruitment is that you simply aren’t resourced to handle the overwhelm. There are solutions – such as asking a recruitment specialist to help – but without that support you could find using social media to recruit risks biting off more than you can chew.

  2. It takes time

    Even if you have the people power to manage your recruitment in-house, managing  it all can take time. And that’s before you’ve created the ads, posted them, monitored comments etc. For any brand thinking of using social media to recruit, there may be a major investment to make in terms of time, resource and cost.

    Working with a recruitment partner can help significantly offset this.

  3. Diversity issues

    As we’ve already explored, certain platforms appeal to certain demographics. Another risk of using social media for recruitment is that by focusing on one or two platforms which, for example, attract a younger demographic, you may open your brand up to accusations of disadvantaging people who don’t use social media at all or don’t use those platforms.

    To avoid this, you’ll need to ensure you use a variety of recruitment channels which give everyone a fair chance.

  4. Checking risks

    Using social media to make background checks can be a valuable way of ensuring the people who’ve made it through interview are who they seem to be, but any brand carrying out its own checks on social media must do so with extreme caution. 

    If you check one person, you must check all – you can’t cherry-pick the people you monitor. You must only search publicly available posts (which can be easier said than done). You can’t ask for passwords. And given the amount of work involved, you don’t want to carry the process out too soon (which is why post-interview is a reasonable option).

    Alternatively, ask a third-party agency to do it for you. 

  5. The risk of backlash

    You already know that everything you post on your social media channels can be subject to trolling. The same is true when you start to post recruitment ads. One of the risks of using social media for recruitment is that it spurs a whole new type of troll into action: the people who once worked for you and no longer do, or the people who once went through a recruitment process with you and now want to tell everyone about it.
    One of the real advantages of working with a retail recruitment specialist is that you are shielded from any PR pain.

Should you use social media for recruiting? 

Yes, but there’s a ‘but’. Social media is an essential recruitment tool, but as we’ve seen, using it as part of your in-house recruitment can present numerous risks and demands you may not have the resources to manage.   

That’s when working with a specialist retail recruitment partner can help you get more from social media recruitment without the risks.

To explore options for your next recruitment campaign, talk to us.

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