In today’s recruiting landscape, when hiring is more competitive than ever, it’s crucial to understand and reach candidates in ever-more personalized ways. It’s no secret that social recruiting and the use of social media platforms to attract talent is no longer just an option — it is a requirement for every hiring strategy.
We recently sat down with Jim Conti, Director of Talent for Sprout Social, to learn more about how Sprout, an industry leader, is scaling an engaged workforce with a culture of employee advocacy — with an emphasis on social recruiting. Founded in 2010, Sprout now has more than 260 employees, and boasts a customer list of more than 17,800 companies globally using their social media management and advocacy platforms. It goes without saying that their recruiting team has developed a best-in-class social media playbook for sourcing, hiring, and engaging employees.
As the first hire on the HR team, Jim started out as as a recruiter. Fast forward a few years and funding rounds, and Jim is now responsible for everything from building the talent acquisition and onboarding processes to benefits, career pathing, and employee engagement. Now leading a Talent team of six and growing, Jim explains that hiring isn’t just his team’s job; instead, he says, “it’s a priority for the entire company.”
So, we figured, who better to talk to about the ins and outs of social recruiting, and how to build an employee advocacy program into your hiring strategy, than Jim?
To start, let’s set the scene of the average job search. Not only is a job seeker applying to jobs on their own, but they’re also likely being barraged by email and LinkedIn messages from recruiters. With all this noise and chatter, how do candidates figure out which companies they’re actually interested in? They go directly to the source.
In our recent global survey of employed adults, 34% of respondents said their very first action in a job search is to go to a company’s website and/or social channels. What does your brand stand for? What is its tone of voice and personality? These brand attributes are sought out by candidates because they are important signals about company culture — and provide unrivaled insight into what it’s like to work there day to day.
“Consistency is the key to social recruiting,” Jim says. Every candidate, no matter how active they are in the application process, looks to your employer brand to gauge whether or not your company is a fit. They can sniff out inconsistencies, which can be particularly hazardous as a candidate reaches further interview rounds or, even worse, Jim says, “if they end up being hired and their experience is inconsistent with their understanding of your brand.” But with dozens of social channels to choose from — and the average recruiter already using close to 9 platforms, per Entelo — social recruiting is not as simple as just blasting your followers with open recs. It requires a deep understanding of who your target candidates are, where they spend their time online, and what they’re looking for in the next step of their career.
The first step in any hiring strategy is, Jim says, to “go where the candidates already are and prioritize spending your time there.” You may be asking yourself, how can you have a message that bridges multiple social networks and platforms, maintains a consistent tone of voice, and feels hyper-personalized to every candidate at the same time?
Sprout tackles this from the inside out. Building a culture of consistency and engagement begins with your internal practices towards employees, then radiates outwards to your customers and candidates, alike. Fundamental to Sprout’s success is an emphasis on team happiness and employee engagement. “Take good care of your people,” Jim says. “Perks are not the same thing as culture. Benefits are a way to take care of and support your team to be their best selves at and outside of work — but offering meaningful work and connection to a greater mission is more important than any perk we could list.” Providing interesting projects, learning opportunities, and purpose-driven work allows Jim’s team to foster a culture of collaboration and empowerment.
Unsurprisingly, happy employees are social recruiting pixie dust. “Open communication is a vital part of our mission and culture at Sprout,” Jim explains. “When you’re transparent with your team about company initiatives, wins, and priorities, your employees are more likely to feel a sense of ownership — and they’re more likely to share your news and achievements with their networks,” says Jim. Partnering with your employees to encourage their participation throughout the recruiting process — from writing blog posts to job postings — can yield all sorts of benefits. Proud employees are powerful brand evangelists, espousing your company culture to all who will listen.
Of course, every successful social recruiting strategy includes arming employees with the proper resources and training to go out and spread the gospel. Without a real strategy in place, it’s easy to sink time into endless hours of social recruiting on every single channel — without benefiting from the reward received by a more strategic approach. To focus employees on the most impactful activities, Jim’s team embeds a lesson on social sharing in their onboarding process. Sprout’s Talent team uses Bambu, an employee advocacy platform, to regularly provide employees with curated content and optional social messaging that they can easily share if desired.
Social recruiting can be noisy, but it has become a crucial element of any company’s broader hiring strategy. Start by assessing your current social strategies and look for consistency and context. Building from those foundations will help build a sustainable culture of advocacy and engagement. Fulfilled employees mean satisfied customers, and satisfied customers mean company success. “The success of our customer and the success of our people are intertwined,” Jim says. “A happy and successful team drives more customers, which drives company growth — all working together in a delicate ecosystem.”