As the business landscape evolves, social media is becoming increasingly more important to the talent acquisition process. So how exactly should HR leaders go about developing a plan of action for their whole team to adopt when it comes to recruiting online—and how can job candidates make the right impression?

At Sprout Social, we believe in taking a holistic approach that guides candidates every step of the way, from the point of first contact to the final decision. Here are a few of our key insights for making that process as effective and as enjoyable as possible for all involved.

Social is an Integral Part of a Solid Recruiting Process

Today’s job candidates are highly active on social media. Before even applying, they are likely checking out a company’s Instagram to get a sense of the workspace and people. They are also hopping on Twitter and Facebook to hear the brand’s voice. And Glassdoor is providing an insider’s view into the CEO, culture and channels for growth.

Candidates no doubt are checking up on your employees too: Is the hiring manager Tweeting about the cool stuff the team is doing? Is the recruiter only auto-posting roles on LinkedIn? Are there any connections to current or former employees?

Thus, rather than being seen as one step in the recruiting process, social must be embraced as integral to the entire candidate experience. Think about how you’re approaching social—both as an entity and as individuals. Does your organization’s brand mesh with what employees are saying? If not, you should think about an employee advocacy plan that will empower your team to more effectively get the word out.

From there, it’s important to get in front of the right candidates. Integrating your employer brand into your social campaign is one of the easiest ways for potential hires to know who you are and how you operate before they ever apply.

Think about how you shop, whether online or in person. You look at the item you are considering from every angle. You ask your friends if they have ever used the product. You read reviews and look at instructions. You get comfortable with the product before you buy it. It’s the same with applying for jobs. The best candidates aren’t diving in blindly. They are paying attention to what you say, how you say it and what people are saying about you as well. As with any decision, candidates are trying to be as informed as possible before making a major commitment.

Creating Social Media Guidelines for Your Talent Team

Once you have defined your social strategy as an organization, it’s essential to educate your team about what is expected when posting jobs and interacting with candidates online. Here are some basic dos and don’ts that we follow here at Sprout.

Social Media Recruiting Dos:

  • Be yourself.
  • Create a mix of content: job openings (obvi) but also company blog posts, industry updates, company news, employee milestones/celebrations.
  • Get involved and contribute.
  • Connect with communities, not just people. For example, don’t just follow every JavaScript engineer you can find on Twitter; follow community profiles as well (Meetup groups, user groups, conferences).
  • Be intelligent, knowledgeable and supportive.

Social Media Recruiting Don’ts:

  • Lack personality.
  • Be overly aggressive.
  • Only post scripted, generic information.
  • Have a Twitter feed that is just one position after another.
  • Be a robot.

What Recruiters are Looking for on Social

On the other side of the equation, here’s what job candidates should know about what recruiters are seeking on social.

Be Polished

Start with this simple advice: Don’t put anything on social that you would be embarrassed to show your mother. Of course, most of our parents are on social these days, so maybe that’s already keeping you in check. This is also dependent on where you are applying; some employers are certainly more buttoned up than others.

Be Authentic

Sprout is a software company working in the social media space. Even though you don’t have to use social to work here, most of us do. Either way, we want to see who you truly are. If your personality is a match with our culture (and vice versa), it will come through in the interview, so there’s no reason to be overly crafted online.

Be Consistent

At Sprout, we don’t use social to say yea or nay to a candidate entirely. It simply gives us a deeper understanding of who someone is. If you’ve applied to work here and are talking with a member of our talent team, they might bring up something you recently Tweeted, but just as an icebreaker. Bottom line: Be mindful of all that you’re putting out on social, and be consistent. If the information on your résumé is different from what you have on your LinkedIn or portfolio site, that’s a red flag to us. Also, make sure everything is up to date before you apply.

Make a Match

With these strategies and tips—for both companies and candidates alike—you’ll be sure to find the right match. At the end of the day, just remember that the whole interviewing process is about both sides getting to know each other better, and social should be an integral part of that experience.

Have additional insights? Share your thoughts on recruiting and job hunting in the comments below. And if you’re interested in learning more about Team Sprout, be sure to check out our job board for an opportunity that might make sense for you or someone you know.