Access to a galaxy of professionals is just a click away, but now it’s even more important to watch your brand and watch your step. Sally Mills weighs the pros and cons of using social networking sites to attract new employees.
It’s never been so easy to get connected. The internet has reduced ‘six degrees of separation’ to just one or two, but can we really use this phenomenon to attract the right employees?
Today’s online social networks are a great way to generate brand awareness. You can engage with individuals and online communities through a variety of activities, like contributing to forums, chat sites and business blogs (web logs).
Facebook in particular allows you to create a community around your company. This helps establish your business profile, and becomes a reference point for potential candidates when they want to find out more about your company. And depending on the nature of your business, if your Facebook group has the right kind of ‘sizzle’, people will seek to join you unsolicited, simply because your company is perceived as a ‘cool’ place to work.
Bear in mind that your online presence on a social networking site is an extension of your brand.
While an online profile provides an opportunity to present the lighter, more creative and more ‘human’ side to you and your company, it should still be thought through carefully.
Be mindful of some of the risks that arise when everyone is so well connected: your business profile, your personal page and the groups you join are all linked, and visibly so. Consider not only what information is available about you, but also what information is available about your friends and the groups you belong to. Does having “I like to party with Courtney Love” on your personal profile send the right message about you and your company?
It’s worth investing time to develop your online network across a number of sites. Alongside Facebook, for example, networking site LinkedIn also enables you to advertise a vacant role or position in your company.
LinkedIn is generally seen as the online network of choice for business and professional people. Both LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to check employee referrals and search talents or resources.
LinkedIn has powerful tools for locating people by keyword, job title, company name or geographic region, and provides a number of ways to contact the right candidates. It’s often these ‘passive’ professionals, who are not necessarily looking for a new role, that are of most interest to employers. Facebook has similar tools, though it tends to attract a younger group of members, and perhaps also includes those with more creative aptitudes.
Any candidate worth approaching will take time to research you before they respond. This goes back to your brand, so perhaps you should rethink that snap of you waving a whisky bottle around a bar in Amsterdam? This may appeal to some but repel others, so consider your brand objectives.
Finally, a word of caution: social networking websites are a breeding ground for subjective opinion and poetic license. Endorsements and recommendations from friends and colleagues have their place, but should never replace proper reference-checks. Similarly, make sure you read a candidate’s full resume: don’t rely on their online profile. Good luck!
This article originally appeared in Magazine January 2008