Social media has become a near-constant feature in almost every American’s life, and for that reason it must also be major component in any successful talent acquisition strategy. Today, 69% of American adults use at least one social media site, according to Pew Research.
Manufacturers, meanwhile, are engaged in a no-holds-barred war for talent. Part of the problem is that they don’t know how to reach job candidates effectively anymore.
As a hiring tool, social media allows manufacturers to reach large numbers of prospective employees at relatively low cost. But leadership often underestimates the resources and planning required to execute an effective social media plan.
Fortunately, there are strategies manufacturers can deploy to establish a powerful social media presence that enhances recruitment efforts.
Find the Right People for the Job
Many manufacturing company leaders make a crucial early mistake by tasking their human resources teams to manage their companies’ social media pages. This can pose two major challenges:
1. HR professionals—while typically excellent at assessing candidates, improving company culture and ensuring compliance—often lack expertise in social media. Without the right people handling social media, companies can send mixed messages to the marketplace or even make mistakes that harm their brands.
2. The 24/7 nature of social media requires companies to provide nearly instantaneous responses to inquiries. Manufacturers that fail to respond quickly to a potential applicant can lose out to competitors that are immediately engaging with prospective talent online.
Consider recruiting skilled communicators from other departments to the social media effort. In some cases, it might be a good idea to form a larger committee of employees who can work together to plan and execute social media content. Human resources staff can certainly contribute to the effort, but they should not be the sole contributors to a manufacturer’s social media operations.
Play by the Rules
Often, companies extend their social efforts into applicant screening processes. In fact, according to CareerBuilder, 70% of employers will search applicants on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter before hiring.
But using social media as a screening tool often provides more details than a company needs to make its hiring decisions—such as religious affiliation, political views or sexual orientation. If a company makes a decision based on personal information that it mined from social media, it could quickly become vulnerable to a discrimination lawsuit.
To avoid this scenario, a manufacturer should create a written social media policy that outlines employee usage guidelines as well as HR screening guidelines that discourage problematic hiring practices. This policy should clearly prohibit hiring decisions based on personal information and beliefs that are irrelevant to the open position. It should also clearly detail the factors that are relevant when considering an individual for employment, such as professional qualifications and credentials, work experience, and facts gathered during the interview itself.
Start Planning Today
Manufacturers who are new to social media will want to start with a very targeted social media strategy, involving only one or two channels. The channels that they select should depend on the positions they seek to fill. LinkedIn may be a good place to reach management personnel, but it won’t be the best option when searching for entry-level plant workers, who are more likely on Instagram, Craigslist or Facebook.
No matter which social media channels they choose to use, manufacturers can’t afford to ignore Glassdoor, an online platform that features employee reviews of companies. Many applicants rely on Glassdoor for the “inside scoop” about a company. Though an employer can’t control the reviews current and former employees post on the site, it can actively manage its Glassdoor page and ensure the page features valuable information about company benefits and culture.
Once a manufacturer has developed a social media strategy that aligns with the company’s global mission, vision and values and puts it into action, the next step is to monitor results and continually tweak and refine the strategy as the company’s needs evolve.
Nobody is going to create the perfect social media plan on the first attempt. It takes time to master online activity and optimize messaging. As the social media team gains capacity, manufacturers can consider adding new channels to the mix to reach new talent.
The manufacturers that invest the time and effort to develop a robust social media strategy will put themselves in a position to recruit the best and brightest employees – and come out on top in the war for talent.
About the author
Joy Duce is partner-in-charge of the human resources consulting services practice at professional services firm Sikich.