To recruit top engineering talent, it’s critical to adapt to the evolving employment landscape.
With historically low unemployment rates in the engineering sector, it’s never been easy for recruiters to fill open roles. This difficulty has intensified in recent years. In April 2023, unemployment in the engineering sector reached an incredible low of 1.3% in the United States, markedly lower than the long-term average of 3.1%.
As employers scramble to attract and retain top talent, they are padding offers with significant increases to compensation and benefits packages and the promise of hybrid work. But offers can only be made if qualified candidates apply.
While recruiters may continue to find some candidates via traditional sourcing methods, referrals, and cold calls, recruitment marketing is now essential.
As explained in a piece at Workable, “recruitment marketing adopts the methodology of traditional marketing for hiring purposes: to attract not customers, but candidates, and to promote not the commercial brand, but the employer brand of the company.” And a key component of any recruitment marketing strategy is social media content.
But is social media an effective recruitment tool for engineers? It is. A terrific piece by Adrian Nash offers these compelling statistics, based on a 2019 report:
- More than 50% of engineers check social media at least once a day;
- 25% of engineers report checking social media regularly throughout the day;
- 36% use social media specifically to find engineering-related content; and
- Approximately 80% of engineers have accounts on both Facebook and LinkedIn.
Given its widespread use by engineers, social media clearly holds tremendous potential for recruitment within the engineering sector. But effective recruitment marketing requires more than simply linking a job post in your company’s feed. By adopting certain strategies, you can optimize the impact of your content and, ultimately, of your recruitment marketing plan.
Create Social Accounts Specifically For Recruitment
Experts advise that companies create social media accounts specifically for recruitment content. As an example, the @hereataws account posts content about internships, job opportunities, DEI initiatives, and company culture, as well as highlights from their brand ambassadors. There are several benefits to having an account that only shares recruitment content.
Targeting Your Messaging
Post-pandemic, candidates are closely evaluating employers to ensure a good fit, including a company culture that aligns with their values and a fair work/life balance. They are researching employers online and social media plays an important role in this assessment. Social channels focusing solely on recruitment allow candidates to understand the hiring process better and easily weigh the benefits of working for a specific employer. Ensuring a good fit before the interview process benefits everyone.
From the employer’s side, targeted messaging ensures that their recruitment-focused content doesn’t get lost among their general posts. It also allows them to use certain tools more widely and effectively than on their website, such as content from their brand ambassadors.
Refining Your Recruitment Brand
Employer branding may appear to be a bit of a buzz phrase but it is critical in the shifting employment landscape. It provides a compelling value proposition to encourage engineers to leave their current employers for you.
A separate social channel that focuses exclusively on recruitment content can help companies develop a voice and a brand specifically for their recruitment efforts. If your general social accounts are largely client-focused, for instance, your approach and language may be more formal. However, you can adjust your language and tone for your recruitment accounts, to more accurately reflect your work environment and company culture, and ultimately attract candidates.
Amplifying The Voices Of Your Brand Ambassadors
A brand ambassador is an advocate of a particular company’s products and services. Brand ambassadors have become increasingly trusted sources of information as the age of the customer has gained currency. To that end, many companies solicit brand ambassadors to promote positive customer sentiment in stores, on websites and at events.
When it comes to recruitment, brand ambassadors showcase your company culture and demonstrate why you are a terrific employer. The @hereataws account on Instagram, for instance, relies heavily on featuring brand ambassadors and their stories.
Extending Your Reach
Social media accounts used solely for recruitment purposes allow employers to cut through the noise and extend their reach. Targeted content is an important tool for attracting and connecting with potential candidates.
Increasing Your Engagement
Social media is meant to be just that: social. A critical component of effective social media is engagement. Recruitment accounts allow companies to engage with candidates in a more focused way. Whereas the person managing your general accounts may not have the knowledge to fully answer candidate questions, the people contributing to your recruitment accounts must be able to answer related questions and build relationships with potential candidates. Responsiveness and full, clear answers will have a tremendous impact on how candidates view your company.
While it may seem easier and less time-consuming to integrate recruitment messaging into your general social channels, having separate accounts for your recruitment efforts is a terrific, focused way to reach, engage with, and attract potential candidates.
Tailor Your Content To The Platform
You don’t want to spread yourself too thinly but, at the same time, it’s important to use a variety of social media platforms for your recruitment messaging. Establishing your recruitment accounts on a few different channels – and formatting your content to each’s unique posting method – can be valuable for these reasons:
- Different platforms are used for different purposes, and by tapping into each platform’s purpose, you can get more content out there, ultimately extending your reach.
- Some platforms are used more heavily by certain groups of people (as TikTok is dominated by Gen Z). To effectively reach those groups, it’s best to meet them where they are.
- Certain platforms and types of posts can help with furthering your company’s DEI goals. As Sean Page points out in a thoughtful LinkedIn post, “Learning to navigate and leverage existing social media channels can help increase your company’s network and visibility in underserved communities.”
- It might be valuable to initially approach your recruitment marketing efforts on social media as an experiment, trying different platforms and different types of content to see which are most effective.
You may want to choose 2-3 social media sites for your recruitment efforts, to start. If you’re having difficulty connecting with or engaging followers, don’t be afraid to shake things up by trying alternate types of content or shifting your efforts entirely to a different social channel.
The Best Social Media Sites For Recruiting Engineers
While LinkedIn is indubitably the best social network for recruitment purposes, engineers – just like most people – have accounts on different platforms. According to the piece by Adrian Nash, a 2019 study found that among the engineers surveyed:
- 81% had an active LinkedIn account;
- 80% had an active Facebook account;
- 35% were active on Twitter; and
- 34% were active on Instagram.
In addition to those four platforms, YouTube and Reddit are popular with engineers and, as mentioned earlier, TikTok is the social channel of choice for Gen Z, who are just beginning to enter the labor market.
Each platform that you use will have a different way of formatting content and engaging followers. You’ll have to adjust your approach for each. As examples:
- As the professional social network, LinkedIn works well for posting industry news and trends. These types of posts serve to attract and engage followers.
- While Facebook is highly social, with most users posting personal updates, its topic-specific groups provide an excellent platform for finding and interacting with engineers on their own turf.
- Engagement on Twitter can be amplified by using hashtags and including external links.
- Instagram can be effective for recruitment (as the @hereataws account demonstrates) but it’s important to remember that clickable links can only be added to Instagram Stories.
- YouTube is an important resource for engineers, who use the site for its informational videos and to share their own projects.
- Reddit is a popular site for engineers, who use the platform to discuss technical information and problems and to collaborate on projects.
It’s difficult to offer advice on exactly which social channels to use. The ones that are most effective for you will depend on several factors, including which field you are sourcing for, the seniority level of the open role (older engineers use social media differently than millennials and Gen Z), and the quality of your content. Don’t be afraid to experiment, ramping up your efforts on platforms where it’s warranted and shuttering certain accounts if engagement doesn’t grow enough to justify your efforts.
Follow Hashtags And Other Accounts
In addition to posting content to attract candidates, it’s important to follow hashtags and other accounts, including those of both individuals and corporations. As posts from these follows fill your feed, you will be able to engage with others in the field, including potential candidates. And that engagement is key to getting new followers of your own.
Additionally, the information shared by your followers can be used for sourcing in a number of ways. Sean Page shares these tips:
- Review competitors’ posts and follow reactions and comments to see if you can find any viable candidates;
- Check the network or friend/followers lists of those you follow to see if you can find more contacts to add to your own network; and
- Follow hashtags as a way to find important discussions, sources of information, and potential candidates.
While it may seem quite time-consuming to seek out followers (especially on top of creating and posting content and managing engagement), it’s essential to the success of your social media accounts.
It’s critical to post interesting and relevant content regularly to garner engagement and increase the number of your followers. What “regularly” means depends on several factors. As a helpful piece at Hootsuite points out, it doesn’t help that “Social media platforms are constantly updating their algorithms, adding new features, and changing the rules of engagement. What worked last year may not work this year, and what works today might become obsolete tomorrow.”
However, that same piece suggests posting at these intervals, for whichever channels you choose to use:
- LinkedIn: 1-2 times/day;
- Facebook: 1-2 times/day;
- Twitter: 2-3 times/day;
- Instagram: 3-5 times/week; and
- TikTok: 3-5 times/week.
It’s important to post a mix of content and formats. Of course, it depends on what each platform supports, but static posts, videos, reels, stories, and blog posts can showcase a variety of content including information about your recruitment efforts, brand ambassador profiles, and informative shares from industry experts and news sources.
Share Job Postings
With all this talk about recruitment marketing, brand ambassadors, and following other accounts, it may seem as though we’ve skipped over something crucial – namely posting jobs!
Since the purpose of your recruitment marketing strategy is to fill open roles, you absolutely should post job openings on your social accounts. It’s a terrific way to get the word out to your followers, who may share the post to their own network; and it can also reach countless candidates who may have not visited your job board or who may not be currently looking for a new position.
A piece at Workable offers the following tips for sharing a job post on social media:
- Keep your post short, with the realization that many people will be viewing a truncated version on their phones.
- Make it clear, either within the first few words or with an accompanying graphic, that it is a job post.
- Include the most important information.
- Use casual language if your recruitment brand allows it.
- Showcase your company culture by including a brief description of perks and benefits.
As the recruitment landscape continues to change, the importance of posting your open roles on social media will continue to grow.
Screen With Caution
Although it’s been reported that “71% of U.S. hiring decision-makers feel that looking at candidates’ social media profiles is an effective way to screen applicants,” the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cautions against this practice. In a comprehensive piece on social media screening, the SHRM says: “Because social media can also provide an employer with information that is not job-related and that could potentially influence hiring decisions, employers should proceed with caution.” The organization suggests that this practice only be undertaken with the guidance of an attorney.