Social media is the new battlefield for recruiters

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You, as a recruiter, have never had a harder job of capturing the candidate's attention. However, don’t despair–you’ve also never had quite this much tech at hand to use as your weapons.

There seems to be a lot of buzz around this mystical new generation; people born from 1995 and onwards. Some call it Generation Z, some still use the term Millennials; however you want to call us — we don’t really care.

As a representative of this generation I can honestly say we couldn’t care less about formal labels. But there’s an interesting characteristic about us: we are the first generation that has surfed the web before we could even read properly. And believe me, it’s certainly impacted how we behave today.

Digital natives were born just around the time technology was shifting into the fourth gear. Consequently, it has affected almost every aspect of our lives— including how we search for jobs. Having recently gone through the process, I’ve noticed that recruiters and employers don’t know this young group of people quite as well as they think.

Hence, here’s a handy guide for recruiters hiring digital natives from the first-hand perspective of a true-born digital native, fresh off the job market at 23.

Mission impossible: Capturing our attention

We are the first generation that grew up with the Internet (fortunate or not, you decide). Computers, mobile phones, video games and social networks produced a constant stream of information that was poured upon us from our earliest age.

The aftermath? Our attention is very, very hard to capture!

Multi-screen Welcome to a digital native's natural habitat

Smart people have done the math. For the generation before us (born between 1980 and 1995) the average attention span is 12 seconds, whereas ours times out after just 8 seconds. Surprised?

Microsoft’s report on this topic says: “Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media.”

Basically, you need to capture the attention of a person watching Netflix, scrolling through a social media app and chatting between numerous WhatsApp groups, all at the same time. That are digital natives in their natural habitat.

Motivation: Purpose driven vs. money driven

At the peak of consumerism and in a world where everything we own/wear serves as a status symbol, it might come as a surprise that dollar bills aren’t our number one reason to get out of bed in the morning.

As a matter of fact, this large study revealed that “…for the first time, we see a generation prioritizing purpose in their work.”

With this in mind, check out our top work values:

  • Interesting work
  • Organisation you’re proud of
  • Work you’re passionate about

Passion Don't just throw dollar bills at us

As you can see, we are more concerned with taking pride and finding purpose in what we do than with our compensation. Some recruiters are onto us —  browse through best practices in recruitment and you’re bound to find job ads that include a variation of the following:

  • Professional development opportunities
  • Career mentorship and coaching
  • Opportunities for co-creation and project input*

Featuring one of these gives digital natives the impression that the job position has been thought out well and that the company offers a long term relationship where young employees can make an impact.

The paycheck is what we expect - purpose is what gets us excited!

Place job ads strategically, research says

Growing up in a digital environment has surely affected our job searching process.

I was curious about the experience my peers have had looking for their first job so I conducted a little research among a handful of graduate students, i.e. people who will join the job market in a month or two.

Key findings

1. Digital natives are mobile-oriented

A stunning 9 out of 10 students I’ve talked to search for jobs on their smartphones. To my surprise, some of them don’t even own a PC!

2. Most of them aren't on LinkedIn

Rest assured, we are not browsing ugly-looking, old school job boards. But what about popular, modern platforms and apps like LinkedIn? Surprisingly, they’re not a preferred choice when searching for employment either.

Actually, 7 out of 10 students I’ve talked to haven’t even opened LinkedIn for more than a year. It’s ‘way too professional’ for them. They are intimidated because of their lack of professional experience, so they don’t feel like they belong on LinkedIn yet.

In fact, there is no universal, go-to app/tool we use. But, there’s a place you can always find us - in the wasteland of social media.

3. Job offers are landing in their DMs

The competition for a good junior candidate has become so fierce that recruiters are now using digital marketing activities (originally used for targeting customers) to target potential candidates.

It’s called recruitment marketing and it has come to a point where the job literally finds you.

A word on recruitment marketing

Although recruitment marketing is a topic in itself which I’m not going to delve into now, I would like to introduce one aspect of it— remarketing.

The term remarketing stands for the form of online advertising which enables websites to target website-related ads to users who have already visited it.

That’s correct, it’s possible to show your ads specifically to people who’ve previously visited your web. If you don’t already see how big this is, you will find out in a moment.

Social media is the bullseye

If you think about the perfect spot for targeting digital natives, there’s one place you can always find us–the social media.

Social animals Learn to swim in the waters of these social animals

On average, we spend 3 hours per day there, swiping endlessly, making social platforms the perfect place for recruiters to showcase their company and lure us to the company’s career pages.

Pro tip: The more discrete you are about it, the better the results.

Here are a few other ways you can raise awareness about your company among digital natives:

1) Don’t use social media only to promote job ads. Use it to promote your working environment, success stories, and educational content. That’s what will make us want to work for you and how you’ll become more tangible and real.

2) Visuals, visuals, visuals. A wall of text is what frightens us the most these days. Remember what I said about our attention? Environment we live in is highly graphical so for you to look good, your content must do the same.

3) Get straight to the point. Stories are cool, but we’ll rather read the entire Game of Thrones series than your 400-word job ad. I’ve mentioned earlier what our key motivators are, so emphasise those. You can add the rest to the job posting on your career site, but beware of information overload.

4) Improve your mobile UX. Career pages and job boards that are hard to navigate on mobile won’t capture a quarter of our 8-sec attention span. We also learned that 9 out of 10 young job seekers from my research used only smartphones in their job hunt, so build your digital strategy accordingly.

A real-life example of (successfully) hiring a digital native

It’s a Sunday afternoon, I’m surfing the web and stumble upon an article about this successful Croatian IT company. It gets me curious so I decide to learn more about them. First stop—the company’s social media accounts.

I visit the official Instagram page and immediately see that the whole company went on a crazy team building somewhere at the seaside. “Wow…”, I think to myself, “…working here must be so cool. Let me check their careers page”.

Unfortunately, none of the open positions fit me. Regardlessly, I google the company again and read a couple more articles about their successful business ventures and the lauded company culture.

Fast forward a few weeks, it’s a Sunday afternoon again, I’m scrolling my Instagram feed (yet again), when suddenly BAM! Junior Project Manager ad from the aforementioned IT company appears on my feed. I open the link to read the job description and think to myself:

“It’s definitely destined to be! I’m such a perfect fit for this ad, as if it had been written just for me!” (FYI it’s not destiny, it’s remarketing).

The crystal cube The crystal cube I could see my future in

All this is to say we don’t even have to actively search for job opportunities anymore. Job ads are literally popping up here and there, fighting to grab potential candidates’ attention.

As far as the job ad description goes, there are a couple of things that hooked me immediately and gave me the impression I would do meaningful work if I joined this company.

Some of them were:

  • a vision of what the job will look like
  • a description of day-to-day activities
  • the list of equipment/tools I'll use
  • someone guiding me through the process

Hell, it even got me excited about writing a 2,000 word essay, an initial recruitment requirement.

Long story short, I got the Junior Project Manager job and over 6 months in, I can honestly say I’ve never been happier.

TL;DR

Social media is vital for recruiting digital natives. When thinking advertising, place your promotions strategically, make them visually attractive and capture attention with interesting, to-the-point content. With many recruiters still figuring this out, you are not too late to enter the race for top young talent, and if you play your car(d)s right, maybe even win it.

A digital native himself, Dubravko Tuksar designed the cover illustration.

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