Think Like a Candidate: How to Build Social Media Profiles That Attract Top Talent

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Before a potential employee clicks “Apply” on your job ad, they’re going to take some time to learn about your brand. And where will they start that digging? Social media.

Your social media channels should reflect your company’s culture, values, and ethics so that prospective candidates can see what you’re all about. That way, people who share the same values as your brand will be more likely to apply.

But does your social media strategy put out what you hope to get back?

How to Use Social Media as a Hiring Tool

Your social media channels should be a key part of your recruitment strategy because they allow you to connect with candidates in ways that other channels don’t. Here are a few of the most powerful recruiting tactics you can use social media for:

1. Show Off Company Culture

Company culture goes way beyond pizza on Fridays, a casual dress code, and whatever you threw on your “About Us” page. What candidates really care about is the goals and vision that unite your employees in a shared mission.

Social media gives candidates a window into the work/life balance, motivations, concerns, and relationships of your employees. You can broadcast your company culture to candidates on social media in the following ways:

Celebrate your employees’ important milestones. If José from product development has been with the company for five years, post about it! Posts like these show candidates that you truly value your team members.

Show people the range of team dynamics and activities at your company. People thrive in different environments. Some thrive in groups, while others are more comfortable working solo. Some like formality, while others seek informal spaces. Try to showcase employees engaged in various activities, like brainstorming sessions, working remotely, and interacting with customers. This will help paint a full picture of what it’s like to work for your organization.

Promote the ways in which you help employees grow in their careers through training and development. For example, you could post about recent occupational health and safety workshops or talk about how your company is improving its anti-bias and diversity training.

Share the stage with causes you care about. If you’re raising money for a charity, let the lead organizer take over your social channels to discuss where those funds will go. Using your social media platform for the greater good shows candidates that your company cares about making a positive mark on the world.

2. Connect With Industry Experts

Recruitment is about connecting with people. The more people you connect with, the stronger your talent pipeline will be. Hanging out in LinkedIn and Facebook groups can help you reach talented candidates who would be perfect for your organization.

But connecting with industry experts on social media isn’t just a good way to fill specific roles — it’s also a good way to make your recruiting process more effective overall. By soliciting feedback and input from people in relevant industry communities, you can learn to create a tailored hiring process that specifically speaks to your target audience.

3. Screen Your Candidates

A candidate can learn a lot about a brand on social media — and you can learn a lot about your candidates, too. Looking at a candidate’s LinkedIn profile, professional network, and other relevant social media activity can give you a better understanding of their experience and work ethic.

You don’t need to violate anyone’s privacy. Many candidates make valuable professional information publicly available on their social platforms.

4. Promote Your Brand 

Many people who look at your brand’s social media accounts won’t necessarily be active applicants. They may be curious customers wondering what it’s like to work for your company. If you use your social media accounts right, you can strengthen your brand reputation — and maybe turn some of those customers into candidates, too.

Take a company like LEGO, which has done a great job of showcasing its career opportunities in a way that speaks to customers and candidates alike. For example, look at how LEGO uses its @LEGO_Careers Twitter account to simultaneously appeal to candidates and promote important brand messages to customers:

Think Like a Candidate: How to Build a Social Media Presence That Speaks to Talent

Social media is a great way to convey your company’s goals, mission, values, office life, initiatives, philanthropy, projects, and more — in theory, at least. In reality, translating all of that into your social media posts might be an unrealistic undertaking.

The good news is that you don’t need to. The average person doesn’t broadcast their entire life on social media; they usually stick to offering commentary on trending topics, liking and sharing interesting posts, and occasionally divulging some personal anecdotes.

Your brand can do the same. Stick to a few elements that set you apart from your competition, engage and inform your readers with valuable content, and try to sound as human as possible. Here’s how:

Optimize Your Profile

Let’s use LinkedIn as our example — but don’t forget there are many great social media channels you can use.

A person who is actively looking for a job on LinkedIn will optimize their profile to attract potential employers, usually through a combination of:

• A high-resolution profile photo
• Recent testimonials about their work
• Instructions on how to connect and engage with them (e.g., writing “Shoot me a message!” in their bio or placing a big arrow in their banner that points to the “Connect” button)

Similarly, you should optimize your brand’s page on LinkedIn to attract the attention of potential candidates. Here are a few things to focus on:

1. The “About” Section

Use this section to highlight your company’s mission, goals, and unique value proposition. You can also include a message inviting candidates to connect with people on your team and reach out to your hiring managers.

2. Pictures

Adding photos to your profile puts a human face on your company. Candidates will see real people actively engaged in their careers — and they may want to join them. Consider having a photographer come in to take professional pictures of any special events your company holds. You may also want to have professional pictures taken of all your individual employees, which you can use when you’re doing special recognition.

3. Posts and Activity

The feed on LinkedIn (and any other social media platform) is a great way to draw a crowd. Share interesting content to generate discussions. Make sure your posts include calls to action or questions your candidate can use to engage with you.

If you’re having trouble getting the conversation started, consider asking employees to hop in with preset responses like “Love this!” or “Happy to help!” This can make it so other commenters don’t feel shy about leaving a note. Recruiters should stay active on posts and respond to each candidate comment.

Posts are also a great way to generate employee testimonials. Your existing staff members can share insights about your company culture or other interesting information your candidates might like.

For example, take this interview I conducted with some women at my workplace, Mailbird. It shares insights on how these women balance work and their families:

This post really helped boost our brand presence among women and other caretakers in the tech industry.

Make Your Content Shine

The more shiny something is, the more likely it is to catch your attention, right? Candidates go through the effort of creating really strong resumes, portfolios, and social media presences to stand out to employers.

Well, guess what? Your job isn’t the only one out there. Just like your candidates, your company needs a wow factor to set it apart from its competitors. In other words, you need interesting content that catches candidates’ attention.

“When I was applying for my role at Looka, I did a thorough scan of all their social channels,” says Christine Glossop, an SEO Manager at Looka.

Glossop, like many candidates, used her prospective employer’s social channels to vet the company. What she really wanted to know was whether Looka lived up to its own values: “For a company that values great design and branding, well-run social channels were an essential way to check whether that was really the case.”

Candidates for all roles will comb your social media for clues about what it’s like to work for your company. Here’s what your content needs to stand out to them:

1. A Personal Connection

Your social media content should convey your company’s mission and help candidates form a personal connection with that mission. That you, you’ll attract people who are passionate about the same things as your company is.

2. Mobile-Friendliness

Your candidates might be perusing your social profiles on their lunch breaks. Make sure your content is mobile-friendly so that interested applicants can access it on any platform. That means keeping your text posts concise and scannable, putting the most important keywords up front, and including a lot of images or videos where possible.

3. Engaging Ideas

You want content that gets likes and shares. When candidates see a lot of positive interactions with your content, they’ll feel more positively about your brand, too.

What kind of content is most engage? You have a few options.

Share user-generated content made by customers and staff members — with their permission, of course! — can compel others to engage in the hopes of attaining the same spotlight. Here’s an example of Whole Foods showing off a customer’s photo on the company Instagram account:

People also like to share memes, clips, quotes, tweets, infographics, and images that resonate with them. Make sure you’re developing highly visual, shareable content that speaks to candidates and can be easily shared. For example, Allbirds hosts a Pinterest board full of cool, shareable product shots and quotes on climate change:

Fun content that puts a new spin on things can also attract a lot of positive attention, like doing a product demonstration in a unique way or hosting an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) where users can talk directly with your team members.

You could even ask your employees to take over Facebook Live for the day, showing prospective employees what’s going on in the office at the time. If it takes off, you could make it into a series that viewers can look forward to on a regularly scheduled basis.

4. Freshness

Update the content on your social platforms regularly. Put simply, a dead profile gives candidates a vibe that something is wrong with your company.

Create a Recruitment Funnel

People who are right for your business might not be interested in the vacancies you have at the moment, but that’s not to say you won’t need these candidates in the future. You can use your social media profiles to funnel these potential candidates into a talent pipeline that you can use later on down the line when new hiring needs arise.

Add an email address to your profile page where people can email their resumes or give candidates a way to subscribe to future updates so you can collect their email addresses. You can then share new vacancies and other company changes with these future candidates via a newsletter. This helps you stay in touch with people who could become team members one day.

Ultimately, attracting great talent is a lot like attracting customers to your brand. You want to showcase your company culture, mission, goals, and other business activities to speak to your audience and get them interested in what you do. Social media is a great means of doing this.

Creating content on social media related to what your company does is a good way to find people who share the same values as your company — and a good way to find out if your candidates are as good as their resumes make them seem.

Carla Andre-Brown is a content marketer at Mailbird.

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Carla Andre-Brown is a content marketer at Mailbird. She enjoys discovering new SaaS tools and writing about creative solutions and ideas. Learning about instructional design, coffee, and chuckle-worthy videos have a special place in her heart.