Find The Niche
Social media has been transformative to the business of recruitment and sourcing. Not only are the networking opportunities perfect for working your way to that ideal candidate, but social network profiles often reveal enough work experience and education detail to serve as a defacto CV.
While everyone knows the ‘big networks’ like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, many professionals choose to keep their personal information private on these sites or avoid them altogether. Fortunately, there are countless niche social networks and sub-groups within the major ones waiting to be sourced.
There are a number of advantages to sourcing from a niche network vs. the broader sites. By their nature, the niches tend to be populated by those who share an affinity of some kind – be it demographic or professional. This reduces effort by narrowing your talent pool to a more relevant group from the start. While there are obvious routes like using Dribbble to fill that graphic design role or ResearchGate for a STEM opening, you may also have success going further afield by looking for engineers in a DIY woodworking forum or C-suite executives in a bespoke tailoring enthusiasts group.
In addition to the time and money saved by sourcing within a niche site, it’s also probable that the active members of a professional niche site are more deeply enthusiastic about and engaged in their line of work than average. By making the extra effort to regularly communicate with a community of like-minded professionals, they indicate that they’re passionate and eager, and probably a higher quality candidate.
Is the site worth your time?
Of course, with a wide array of social sites to choose from, it’s helpful to focus on those that are truly deserving of your valuable time. You’ll want to consider a few key questions before making the effort to get involved:
Is it well-populated? If you’re filling a niche position by prospecting in a niche site, it must have a sufficient pool of candidates. You might try to gauge the number of users from a member list or a search, if such a feature exists. You may also start by skimming popular conversation threads. Do the same handful of people appear to be engaged in all discussions or are there a wide variety of users?
How much traffic is it getting? Even if there appear to be plenty of members, does that number seem to be on the rise? It’s not uncommon for small or alternative social networks to grow popular due to novelty or publicity before fading away just as swiftly. Try to determine whether the site looks likely to grow or stagnate.
Are the members actively involved? Even if you’ve found a niche network that’s full of people who appear to have the sort of interests, experience, and background you’re looking for, it will do you little good if they rarely visit the site. Check the dates on recent conversations to verify that people are visiting and participating regularly.
Once you’ve found a niche social network, forum, or subgroup that appears to have a thriving, and preferably growing, community of users who meet your current needs, how can you effectively benefit from it? Join the community as a member to monitor and, ideally, participate in the conversation.
The more you frequent the community, the more you may pick up valuable insight into the needs and concerns of the group, making you a more understanding and trustworthy contact for your clients and candidates both on and off the network.
Unless it’s specifically a site or group dedicated to job postings, most of the threads are likely to be questions, news, or other industry commentary. Work to become a welcome member of the communities you join by posting relevant, valuable content before you begin posting any ads.
Use the discussions as opportunities to learn and to show your expertise when possible, which will help you gain the trust of your future prospective candidates. Keep an eye out for the community members who post or comment actively and interact with them to make yourself known. You’ll likely pick up on which ones are seeking a new role or would be open to discussion.
And of course, once you have a role to share post, do so where appropriate, with applicable keywords or hashtags if they’re supported. Above all, be yourself in any social recruitment effort, as your level of authenticity and professionalism will create the reputation that attracts those seeking new career opportunities.