Let’s say you write a top-rate wanted ad and place it in THE trade magazine for the professional you need. You send out e-mails asking for referrals. Then you wait.

In this day and age, you probably have not done nearly enough to compete in the marketplace for minds. Is your company doing enough to leverage social media for the hiring process?

A well-defined social media strategy can help a company meet multiple objectives — not only sales and marketing initiatives or customer service, but also recruitment and many other business functions. Having recently added a new team member for Digital Park made me reassess the whole idea of hiring in the digital age and how social media has altered and enhanced the recruitment process.

I’ve written before about job candidates and the need to be mindful of your online brand. This time, I’m turning the interview table to examine what companies should be doing to better manage the hiring process – given the significance of social media – and how they can leverage useful online tools.

Last year, just seven percent of hires came from job boards like Monster.com, according to a survey by recruiting firm CareerXroads. Whether you’re a small company or a big corporation, there are some basic tips and tools you should use to reach a greater pool of potential candidates to find THE one you’re looking for.

The first thing you need is a job description or posting on your website or blog, as well as a mechanism for receiving candidate resumes. Once that’s in place, getting the word out is actually pretty easy.

1. Twitter

You knew this one was coming, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Yes, your company should have a Twitter presence for other uses too. But for now, let’s just focus on how you can use it for hiring. There are job and resume postings on Twitter every minute of every day. Luckily, there are some ways to filter these.

• Stick to your industry. Use appropriate hashtags such as #pr or #journalism or #construction. Resourceful, knowledgeable job candidates are already conducting searches using these.

• Use other relevant hashtags such as #jobs or #hiring.

• To make the most of Twitter, you have to remember it is much more than a one-way communication stream. There are already a bunch of job seekers out there that might be a perfect fit for your job opening. Don’t just post jobs; use Twitter as a database to find available, qualified candidates.

One way is by taking advantage of #HireFriday. Started by human resources professional Margo Rose, #HireFriday aims to feature available job seekers, give them visibility and connect them with a larger network of contacts. “HireFriday is not a glorified classifieds,” Rose says. “It’s like recruiting in reverse. It’s a community that is vibrant, viral and alive.” Rose says she has heard of thousands of potential hires brought together by #HireFriday. Twitter affords recruiters and job seekers a phenomenal multiplier effect so that one tweet can be seen by hundreds and thousands of potential fits. Rose sees it as a sort of “pay it forward movement” where tweeps help out fellow friends and followers by retweeting and passing along leads to their networks. That’s exactly the type of nuance that social media can add to the job-filling equation.

Rose’s advice for recruiters:

• “Filter baby filter.” Use a tool like Tweetdeck to set up global filters to source and “hand-pluck” your best-fit candidates.

• Don’t spam sites with job postings. “Post and pray” doesn’t work. Be strategic. Think of Twitter as a way to crowd source your pool of potential new hires.

Once candidates apply, follow them on Twitter. Their updates and Twitter personalities can serve as a pre-screening. I created a private list of all candidates and checked it every couple of days to help manage this task. Tweet directly with people who have the right skill set for your place of work. Build relationships. Even if there’s not an immediate opening for someone, a new relationship today could lead to the right person for the job tomorrow.

2. Facebook

According to Bureau of Labor statistics, nearly half of all job hunters obtain their jobs through referrals – that is, word of mouth. That means peer-to-peer, social connections. Since Facebook is the #1 social network, you can’t afford NOT use it. If your company has a page, post the job there and link to your website posting, and ask your fans to share it. Do it often. Even if you don’t have a business page, you can post a link from your personal profile and ask your friends to tell their friends about it. Watch that ‘70s hair commercial happen: And so on, and so on, and so on.

3. LinkedIn Jobs

Since LinkedIn is THE social network for professional use, it’s no wonder they have dedicated tools for the recruitment process. According to LinkedIn, jobs posted there get a “viral boost.” On average, jobs are forwarded 11 times by LinkedIn members. Paid job listings are also Search Engine Optimized so they can be found in related searches and posted on Twitter. The service also scans its entire database and recommends the best candidates for your opening. They have built-in tools for candidates to submit their resumes and other means to automate the process.

4. Online interviews

Save yourself some time by pre-screening your candidates. It used to be you just had a resume to lean on to learn about prospective employees. Now you have online profiles, portfolios and personal blogs to help you. Pre-interviews can be done via Skype or other online tools such as GoInterview.com. With GoInterview, you type in your questions, e-mail your interview link to as many candidates as you wish and watch the completed interviews at your leisure. In your pajamas if you want. (Employers don’t need a web camera, but applicants do.) Then you can do live interviews with a shortlist.

Looking for new employees in the digital age brings to light a lot of the reasons why companies should already have social media strategies in place. By having a pre-existing social media presence and engaged community, you may find this process a lot easier. For instance, we already have a lot of college PR students, graduate programs, reporters and other PR professionals who follow us on Facebook and @rbbpr. When a job opens up, our already-engaged community is the first to find out.

Lastly, if you think social media has complicated instead of improved the recruitment process for your business, maybe it’s time to bring in a professional or strategic partner to help with your digital approach.

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