5 Basics To Make Social Media Work For Recruitment

So many blogs. So many opinions. So many failed attempts, but also some awesome case studies. Yes Social Media & Recruitment is a minefield of confusion, misdirection, and advice from folk who ain’t never done it.

child fiveHere’s 5 useful little guiding lights, from a bloke who’s been doing it hands-on since 2009; that remind you, and encourage you, that you don’t need to tip your recruitment agency/team upside down.

1. Start with your CRM

Well, you’ve been dying to get some proper use out of that damn thing for months and years. Well it’s the perfect place to try and do something with clients and candidates who refuse to pick the phone up to you. The confusion of social media so often stems from not knowing who to target. So, if you chose to populate your CRM with seemingly relevant people, then do the same with your social prospects. Candidates, clients, contacts – take the journey from CRM, to LinkedIn, to beyond. Hopefully you have chosen a modern day CRM, that allows you to integrate social media naturally anyway; then your social media communications can sit on a level playing field, with your telephone call activity. In fact, done well – it outshines it.

2. Think Brand

Please no, not Russell Brand. The scary bit about branding on social media is that it is marketing. Let’s be honest, most recruitment entities don’t like or understand marketing. It’s ok to admit it. You weren’t made that way. Actually, the branding bit is pretty easy – but I would suggest you need advice. (I can do that bit, if you need) But what you are doing in building your brand well, is in essence increasing the potential for people to say nice things about you. That’s good – it gets you business, gets you people, and increases inbound enquiries, profile and kudos. Now branding does *not* mean, your logo. Nobody buys logos. It means the substance of your people, your service, your interaction with your community, your stories, your original content, your thought leadership, your value and credibility within your marketplace. People buy from good people; we all know that. You can’t share those stories on the phone, and your brochure is out-of-date as soon as it’s printed. Social Media gives you platforms to keep rolling news and content alive and current.

3. The Best People For The Job – It’s Not For Everyone  

Ok, so let me start with this. If you are the CEO, MD, Founder, Head of Talent Acquisition, or whatever you want to call yourself; then YOU should be on social media. Not as your company brand, but as you. You’ve gone this far to create a good agency or team – now go stand out proud from the front. But aside of that, if we haven’t the budget to hire a social media specialist; then we have a habit of asking our sales people to manage social media channels. Invariably, your best sales people hate change in method, they like tried and tested methods; and they are great already. Don’t screw them up, by trying to make them write tweets 5 times a day then. They’re not going to stop and listen to the conversation they might create; and their work will be outbound. Bad social media. Find the unsung superstar in your team, that everyone loves – who you hired because they have awesome people potential, can select well, gets the industry you serve; but it turns out is utter pants at sales. I bet they’d be great at social media. Given they they no doubt want to succeed proactively, they will more likely *want* to be great at social media. If I come to train your recruiters to integrate social media, I will ask them at the end of the first session who actually wants to do it. Anyone that is honest, and would rather go back and continue make sales or headhunting calls, I would willingly set them free – they will *never* want to embrace it. Pointless for me, pointless for you. Find your superstars who can run with it, don’t crowbar in the nay-sayers. The other people to choose, are people already highly conversant and technically aware of your industry. Difficult to do ‘social’ with a .Net developer on a social channel, if your best shot at conversation is “How the devil are you?”.  

4. Social Media is for Business Development, not just Sourcing

Everyone talks about sourcing, finding hard-to-reach talent, etc – when we hear about Social Recruiting. For the recruitment agency out there, and for the executive hiring team; the need is for business development. Wins, not just Finds. At CloudNine, 100% of business came from social media potency and visibility, or recommendation from the reputation we created through that visibility. (see 2. Think Brand). B2B is about building relevance, relationship and trust – and where sales calls fail, is that they are, well… salesy. By targeting prospects expertly through social media, with conversation, market integration, relevant content and offline purpose,  the entrance to the relationship is more human and mutual than the pressure cooker of an unplanned sales call.

5. Choose Platforms & Emerging Technology With Care

Most social media platforms, are probably not for you. The problem with social media integration is that some bright spark will say “XYZ did this thing on Snapchat – you could do it too!!”, and then we all think we can do it. Stick initially to sound and solid bases; based on where you already have a hunch your industry is. Use existing specialist communities, conversations and groups as your catalyst for identifying socially active connections; and where relevant – use ‘dark social’, i.e. niche forums and specialist discussion areas – to find relevancy in your communications. Your inbox will also be full of apps, extensions and tech-wet-dreams that will promise to make you a better recruiter. Choose these carefully, and from good neutral advice. Too many will complicate what is a perfectly human process we’ve been doing for years; but people would have us believe that it’s a mystery online.

And that’s the point, it’s a human process that you are already probably pretty good at. If I could have added a sixth, I would say don’t fear online and business. (I could add more too, naturally…) It’s what your competitors are doing, and large and progressive brands are already leading the way and have been for years. Don’t get left behind, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. (I can do that too) 


Steve Ward is an early-adopter of hands-on social recruiting and following 22 years as an agency recruiter; is now independently helping recruitment teams and agencies improve the perception of the way they work, by helping integrate social media & digital transformation into hiring methods; to enhance inbound traffic. Still recruiting, but also available for training, mentoring and advisory roles. Connect & message me if you’d like to chat. 

#SocialRecruiting 1976-present day. About People Not Technology.

What is ‘Social Recruiting’?, I asked,  in 2010 one of my first ever blogs. As I read it today, I could write the same words in most part – with the same consistency of thought. In fact I utter many of the same words now. I also refer to the start of my recruitment career in 1994, and claim fairly, that I was a ‘social recruiter’ then too. I also hat tip Angela Mortimer, who was also doing the same in 1976. She was absolutely a social recruiter. And I bet there are more before her.

child laptop blog

The reason? Well, because only one thing has changed. (besides my 1994 hairline & waistline). That thing is technology. And because of technology, we have turned social recruiting into a circus of misdirection.

The thing that has never changed, is people. Recruitment is about People. By nature, Social Recruiting is even more so, about people. 

So when I read a blog or watch a talk or seminar on Social Recruiting, where the words ‘Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram’ etc, dominate the content – I am frustrated. You’ll see that I very rarely talk about platforms. Platforms are vehicles, different modes of transport, avenues of access, and providers of increasingly helpful analytics for website & applicant traffic measurement.

But social recruiting isn’t about Twitter, etc. It’s about people. Yet we recruiters seem to be entrenched in a technology fog, where our natural instinct to develop potent relationships, trust and gain face to face credibility; is shrouded by the need to consider technology & platforms first, and thus instils fear in the many who fail to see the point of social media channels and the like at first sight; or conversely it all provides opportunities for others to make recruitment a short-cut process where relationships and human interaction are no longer necessary.

I would much rather hear from people who talk about human behaviour, understanding audiences, how the digital age has changed our inclinations and actions in job seeking, networking, social media use, and human interaction; and how we can apply that to the way attract talent. Off the back of *that* we can choose our technology carefully, and consider the channels in which we need to operate – and how. Not based on a cut-and-paste ‘How To…’ guide, but tailored in correlation with our specific audiences, talent markets and influencer & advocate networks.

So recruiters, please don’t get caught up in the confusion around social recruiting being about multiple sources of tech, and a time drainer. Instead, it’s a terrific opportunity and network enabler – and why it should compliment what you do already, with many of the skills you already have and employ.

There’s a reason the word ‘Social’ exists in Social Recruiting. It needs people to be social. Technology is optional.

Welcome thoughts.


Steve Ward is an award-winning Social Recruiting Strategist, who as well as continuing to partly be a front-line digital recruiter; is now an advisor, mentor, trainer to recruitment teams on using social media effectively in talent attraction and recruitment marketing. Contact me if I can help your business. 

Measuring Word-of-Mouth in Recruitment: Source of Source of Hire.

When I led a discussion last week on social media in recruitment – one of the challenges that marketers and directors within recruitment organisations experience – is putting a measure on social media activity. I wrote about Social Selling recently, but what is the effect of good social media marketing and business presence?

kids whispering








You see it cannot be a blunt measurement like ‘we got this hire through Twitter’, and tick a box. That’s too basic. We advise that organisations should have content and presence across all relevant channels; and that social media is not a post & pray environment, but one where you build a profile of credibility and visibility. There’s a degree of consistent and subliminal marketing to it; rather like why brands still spend large portions of budget on billboard advertising. Pretty un-measurable stuff, that has a combination of variable speeds of impact across different channels.

But of ‘Source of Hire’ is a phrase we hear about. When we collect data on the candidate’s way in, we often ask “where did you hear about the job?”; or indeed track the link of where the application came from. Easy measurement.

However, I’m not convinced this sufficiently tells the story.

“Your website” is sufficient for your website manager to be proud; but insufficiently accurate to denote the actual source of hire. What directed someone to the website? Equally, when someone quotes “recommendation”, well great, that’s awesome for company profile stats – but, from where and why did that recommendation come? Are tracking this.?

The actual source of hire, therefore is the SOURCE of the source of hire.

To get a good one-dimensional idea of how effective our marketing is – we can measure direct source to apply/hire. But in doing so, we merely support our website portals and basic application behaviours. If we really want understand how our marketing, especially across social media marketing; is working, then we need to consider how word-of-mouth behaviour takes place and where the key activators are.

So who is sending people to our jobs? The reality is, that the source of source of hire, is rarely a platform – which most metrics would ask us to measure impact from – but instead it is a series of people. Social Media marketing is not so much about platforms – it’s about the people who use those platforms and working out their behaviours, and attempting to influence their decisions.

Taking that a step further then, identifying the people whose behaviour on platforms is sending people to our jobs, or to our website to raise a query; is pretty important right?

These, ladies & gentlemen, are called your advocates. Yes, if you have strong brand and word-of-mouth working for you in this way, then you have advocates. Offline and Online. Sounds nice. But we will never know who these people are, unless we start to look at asking for the source of the source of hire.

So what of them? What of these ‘advocates’ I speak of, or ‘activators’ – that places like McKinsey call them. Well there could be many of them, but they are pretty special people. They willingly, without reward or intent of thanks, recommend you as an organisation or recruiter – maybe because they have had a good experience, maybe they support your online presence, maybe they can just see you are a credible player in their field. They are a channel of leads, candidates and also quite likely, new business. And, they have influence – they influence the behaviours of others to act. Yet, more often than not, recruitment teams rarely venture to find out who these people are.

Well, I propose that when you get working on your Social Media presence; you start to understand these people.  Start asking questions beyond the obvious, and recognise who ignited the relationship.

Then what? – Well don’t ignore the people who have been recommended– they deserve a dose of VIP treatment whether you can place them or not. And start to spend some more time appreciating your advocates – they are your non-paid, all-willing external sales people. We always schmooze our clients and key candidates; but never think to understand or reward the people who deliver us both. They are often your Source of the Source of Hire, and can become a part lifeblood to your business without even trying. 


Steve Ward has just ended a 21 year career in the recruitment agency industry, and is a Social Recruiting Strategist, Trainer & Retained Consultant. Integrating Social Media into actual and natural day to day processes within agencies and in-house to impact inbound business & candidate flow is his specialism. Please do drop a line to request how he could work with your recruitment team or marketing function. 

Job-seeker Tips: Applying with Covering Letters

Covering letters are sadly a dying art. They’re either too long, so I won’t read them; so curt, as to be rude in the extreme; or too short – meaning there’s no relevant information. Furthermore, method’s of applying for jobs are so cripplingly automated these days, that the opportunty to think about a clear, concise and relevant covering letter to your CV submission is almost discouraged by job boards, ATS based application systems, and those that want to turn `Apply With LinkedIn` as the standard form of application. 

Hear this frome me: Applying for a job should NOT be a fast-food process. Automation in job application is bad, and does nothing for the individual strength of your application.  

Sad to say though, that I very, very rarely see what I would perceive to be a great cover letter – and I see 50+ applications per day. 


So, the first step in writing a good covering letter, is to choose the right format to apply. 

Some say Email is dead? Well it’s not. It’s the perfect format to apply for a job from your own portal, with your own lay out, and attaching documents and portfolios. 

Some say the CV is dead? Well it’s not. It’s the perfect format to best display your individuality, written and layout skills; your credibility; and stands you apart from the competition. 

So now we’re using the right format – now decide what to write in the covering email.

Well, start with the job description, or advert content. If the employer has written it in their advert, then it’s important in the filtering process, and therefore is important in your application process. Don’t apply for a job as a Social Media Manager with the opening line, `I am a fantastic Secretary`. Find 3 to 5 key factors about your experience and suitability in relation to that content, and they will make up 3 to 5 key bullet points in your covering note. We’ll come to those in a minute. 

The opening line is important, and match the tone of your application, to the tone of the company for whom you are applying. Either way though, sound respectful, but immediately interesting. The opening line should be a short paragraph of not much more than 2 lines, and should include:

  • your interest in the role – i.e. recognise the name of the role
  • your interest in the company – with proof, i.e. I’ve been looking at your website… 
  • an introduction to suitability – “and due to my experience in … I believe I would be perfect for the role. 

The Bullet Points will then follow. These are the key indicators as to why someone will open your CV. They match the key requirements role, the industry of the company for who you are applying, and the individuality of your own application. The reason for bullet points? – well rather like your CV, it breaks key pointers into almost highlighted status, visually, and breaks the monotony of long paragraphs with hidden gems. 

The Close should come now. No waffling required. The close should re-iterate your interest, suitability and suggest availability to be considered for interview, and the opportunity to discuss if necessary. Again, be warm, appraochable and welcoming.

So the format will look something like this: 


Note the use of highlighted text to demonstate mirroring technique. These are in a sense `buzzwords` that I have assumed would be evident within the job description or advert. Mirroring those words with highlighting quickly demonstrates relevance. The covering letter only ever talks specific interest and suitability to the role. If it’s not relevant, don’t put it in. 

I hope this has helped. I’ll hope to do more practical job-seeker tips as time allows over the coming weeks. Certainly, I would love to see more great covering letters out there. Your written skills will be more pertinent than ever, so make sure you get the front cover looking sharp.