Social Media and Your Recruitment Strategy

Employers can access a larger pool of candidates by being where the conversation is happening

For over 10 years, social networking sites have been growing steadily all over the internet.  As social networking site reputations become more solid and users become more adept in navigating them, tourism business owners have started to see social media as a viable resource for finding, attracting, and recruiting new staff.

As social networking sites grow, so has the demographic that uses them.  Generation Y has been joined online by its parents and grandparents.  With millions of active users, social networking sites connect business owners with a diverse user base that spans demographic groups and geographic areas. 

Despite the overall benefits to implementing social media as part of a recruitment strategy, individual business owners must decide for themselves whether or not it will benefit them. Building a brand identity, attracting followers, and posting fresh and engaging content takes time and effort; if a business’ potential employees are unlikely to seek work on social networking sites, all of that time and effort could be wasted. 

With over 30% of tourism sector employees falling within the 15 – 24 age group, business owners must ask themselves, “Who do I want to attract?”  Industries with an older employee demographic, such as travel services and transportation, may not gain as much benefit from social media networking as the food and beverage services, accommodation, and recreation and entertainment industries.

Today’s job hunters are more likely to seek work online rather than use traditional methods like the local classifieds.  While large employment websites and job boards are costly, social media offers business owners a cheaper way to advertise opportunities.  Not only do they save money, but business owners also attract a more targeted group of applicants who are interested in the business and who have a general idea of the workplace culture.

Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn can facilitate the recruiting process for all kinds of tourism businesses.  LinkedIn is widely used to recruit professional level employees, while Facebook is better for interacting with students seeking frontline positions. 

With Facebook, business owners can set up a page or start a group that allows them to engage with current and past staff, while giving potential employees the opportunity to learn about the business and its culture.  By communicating frequently and openly on Facebook, a business owner can show company values in action, giving candidates a good sense of workplace values like respect, diversity, teamwork, collaboration, openness, and authenticity.

LinkedIn is a great resource for building and expanding a business owners’ professional network.  A springboard for developing genuine virtual and face-to-face relationships, an active LinkedIn profile can yield trustworthy referrals when a position needs to be filled. LinkedIn is also a valuable resource for filling management-level roles when needed.

Before starting a social networking page like a Facebook group, it is important that business owners consider the image they would like to project.  This is the business’s brand and it should be consistent throughout all content posted to the page.  To build a following, start by searching out current and past employees and invite them to join.  Take the time to develop and post fresh content regularly.  Ask questions, discuss issues facing the business, and link to relevant and interesting blogs, video clips, and news items.  Maintaining an active online presence pays off in building a list of loyal followers that can yield both candidates for employment and customers.

While building followers, it is vital to seek a wide audience and consider non-traditional groups like mature workers, people living with disabilities, new Canadians, and international workers.  By attracting alternative demographic groups, business owners can improve their chances of finding a top performer to fill a vacant role, which may help mitigate the effects of the labour shortage that is projected to remerge in 2012.
As in all human resource activities, it is crucial to keep hard copy documentation of all hiring practices and decisions.  When using social media as a starting point, business owners could have access to a candidate’s personal information, such as race, religion, marital status, and sexual orientation, which is often available on social networking sites.  When a business owner has standard established hiring practices and hard copies of hiring criteria, he or she is protected in the event that a candidate questions the rationale behind a hiring decision.