Retaining Homegrown Talent with Community Job Boards

Recently, we talked about the challenges that smaller towns and cities face, along with their chambers of commerce and local governments, when it comes to attracting and retaining a skilled workforce.

Many municipalities, their leaders, and businesses are working hard to make their communities great places to live and work, and are proud to see their youth achieve success in school and work. But they still struggle with being able to effectively connect those young people with the kinds of opportunities that will allow them to stay there and help grow the businesses that employ them.

So how can a community job board run by a chamber of commerce or municipal government help retain their young, homegrown talent?

To answer that question, we need to look at some key factors that make a community job board successful:

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Status of Facebook Jobs: It’s Complicated

Facebook started out in 2004. I joined in late 2005. Only college and university students could sign up back then, and you could only register using your school-assigned email address. Now we might refer to it as a closed social network, with subnetworks of people who add each other as “friends”. Later on, high school students were allowed to sign up, and then eventually the world at large was welcome on Facebook.

Naturally, most of the user-generated content on Facebook during those early years was posted with the assumption that only chosen friends would ever clap eyes on it. Messages on your Facebook wall (now your timeline) and selfies (taken without the advantage front-facing camera on your phone) were the norm, along with pictures of friends hanging out, partying, and making dumb faces.

If you’ve watched The Social Network, you can no doubt imagine that all sorts of social drama was acted out on the platform, and you’d probably be right. Facebook was responsible for popularizing “it’s complicated” as a relationship status, after all. On the other hand, it was also common to change your vital stats for fun – Antarctica as your hometown or relationship status set as “married” to unlikely match, platonic friend, or favourite food.

I’m not taking you down Millennial Memory Lane for no reason, mind you. The context of Facebook’s history and evolution is important to take into account when evaluating the social media platform as a recruiting tool, since now it’s a place to look for a job.

Back in November, TechCrunch reported on Facebook’s upcoming Jobs feature for company pages, and now it’s here. Let’s quickly review what we know about Facebook Jobs:

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9 Alternative Inbound Marketing Tactics for Job Boards

We’ve gone over the basics of social media management, how to generate inbound traffic to job boards, and how to optimize job board content on individual pages, so now you might be wondering – what else is there?

My answer may delight and/or frustrate you, but the truth is: lots!

Content, SEO, and social media are the foundations of inbound marketing, but there are seemingly endless ideas on ways to drive traffic to your website. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the ideas and discuss how they might apply to job boards specifically.

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Generating Inbound Traffic to Your Job Board

The concept of inbound marketing is based around getting people to come to you, to discover you, and seek you out.

This is different from outbound marketing, which includes more traditional methods like exhibiting at tradeshows, airing commercials (on TV, radio, even YouTube, etc.), print advertisements (in magazines, newspapers, billboards, mailed flyers and brochures, etc.), outbound calls (telemarketing!) and emails.

These methods are usually regarded as more disruptive, in that you are interrupting the target audience to communicate your marketing message. They also can cost more in terms of services and production, and they tend to be more difficult to track direct ROI.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is tailored more towards the Internet user of today. If you want to learn about something, you Google it. If I want to buy a new laptop, I’m going to check out the prices and specs online first. I might read reviews or ask on social media if anyone has any recommendations or experience with the model I’m considering buying.

The same goes for job search, recruiting, and all sorts of business challenges.

The number one task of inbound marketing for job boards is:

Be Discoverable!

“Build it and they will come” does not apply to online businesses in 2016. You need to make yourself discoverable through the content on your site, basic SEO, and your messaging and branding. This is in addition to your job board-specific content.

First thing’s first: Who are you? Who are you trying to reach? What do you want them to do? Why should they do it? How can they do it?

You need all those questions answered. And they should also be answered for anyone who arrives on your job board.

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Social Media Management Basics for Job Boards

So far in our blog series on social media for job boards, we’ve covered:

By now, you understand the value of social media, how to investigate and test which platforms work best with your audience, and how it can help your job board, its customers and job seekers.

Now, here is your guide for creating a streamlined social media management routine for your job board.

Your tasks fall into three major categories: curation, scheduling, and monitoring.

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Social Media vs Job Boards?

I have a pet peeve about superhero movies and comics with “versus” in the middle. Superman Vs Batman. First they fight…then they become best friends! And fight crime together! But I get impatient. Can’t we skip the contrived drama and just get to the part where they actually being productive and making a difference?

In researching my previous posts on using social media for job boards, I came across the “Job Boards vs Social Media” theme more than once. It’s disappointing, because for all the good each does on its own, they’re more powerful when they’re working together.

The recruiting industry has collectively been through the “job boards are dead” rhetoric (which continues to be untrue), as well as the “social media recruiting = answers to all your problems” narrative.

Social media is great, and it can help job boards and recruiters reach candidates and better serve their customers. Is it the answer to every problem? Er, no. Is social media vs job boards really an either/or question? Nope. It’s a false dichotomy, and a myth you should be dispelling for your customers in your content and marketing.

social media and job boards

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Get Comfortable Using Social Media for Business

If you’re using social media, er, socially, using it for business sounds like an easy prospect. You’ve got a handle on the nuances of posting to Facebook compared to Twitter or Snapchat. However, attaching goals, measuring and testing the success of your activity brings new angles and challenges that using it for fun does not.

Conversely, if you’ve never used social media, you might have a clear idea of what you want to get out of it for your business, but fail to grasp what the social experience is like for the people you’re trying to reach. And that can impact your ability to use social media to effectively meet your business goals.

It’s never as simple as “hey, get that person aged 18-23 in here and make them do the social media stuff!”. Even they – though some may call them “digital natives” – will have something to learn.

What Makes it Social Media

First off, how do we define social media? Does it have to be an app? Is it a website? Does an animated gif qualify?

I would define social media as a type of platform – which is usually in the form of a website, an app, or both. The part that makes it social is the ability to somehow connect with other people using the platform. Adding someone as a friend or following them gives your account a connection to them within the system.

Then comes creating or sharing something. Text, images, videos. You use the platform to publish media content, and its social functionality presents it to the people who follow you, or makes it possible for people unconnected to you discover it through things like hashtags, your location, or your connections to other users.

Each platform has more ways and unique ways to interact with content and other users, but I’d say those are the basic characteristics of what defines social media.

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Testing Social Media Marketing for Job Boards

Think back to school, and learning about the scientific method. Roughly, you start by asking a question. You do some background research, come up with a hypothesis, and design an experiment to test that hypothesis. Through your experiment, you make observations and collect data, which you then analyze to help form a conclusion about your hypothesis and the initial question.

If your hypothesis is “I think my job seekers are on Twitter”, or “I think I can increase my traffic by posting to Facebook”, then that’s where you’ll begin.

(Apologies to any actual scientists who object to my oversimplification of the scientific method.)

Decide on Your Social Media Goals

For any kind of testing, first figure out what you want to know. What am I testing? Am I testing out my messaging? The type of content I share? When I share it? Where I share it?

Even before we answer those important questions, we must establish our end-goal in using social media in the first place. You’ll likely think of many, and you may want to track all of them. When you’re getting started, it may help to think of your goals occurring in stages. For example, you might approach your goals in this order:

  1. Gain followers
  2. Increase job seeker traffic to main site
  3. Increase job alert email sign-ups
  4. Increase job views
  5. Increase applications
  6. Increase job seeker returning traffic

For now, let’s assume our end-goal is to gain followers on our chosen social media platform, and increase job seeker traffic to our site. What we want to test is which social media platform performs better at achieving our end-goal.

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Researching Your Candidates for Social Media & More

Social media is an important and useful way to market to candidates and attract job seekers to your job board. But how do we use social media recruiting to its best advantage? How do we figure out which social media platforms are right for reaching your particular job seekers?

The challenge is two-fold: the first step being research, and the second being experimentation. Today we’ll mostly focus on researching and how to use what you learn.

Let’s say we have an imaginary job board and it’s focused on targeting social workers as job candidates. The first step is to learn more about social workers!

There are great online resources out there for researching demographics, such as the US Bureau of Labourand Stats Canada. (And if your Google-fu isn’t strong and you need a little help – your local library will always be able to point you in the right direction.)

Having used the Bureau of Labour site above, I’ve found out that most social workers in the US are between the ages of 24 and 44, and most of them are women. That means by targeting social workers, we’re mainly aiming at women aged 24-44 (rather than, say, men aged 35-55).

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Simple Social Media Tricks to Reach Candidates

We’ve covered ways of using social media to promote your job board and recruit candidates before, but it’s always worth refreshing ourselves on the basics.

There are several dead-simple ways to use social media to help promote your jobs and reach candidates. By implementing these small, “low hanging fruit” ideas, you can can make a significant difference to your reach and influence.

1. Create the accounts.

Go ahead and do it now. I’m just going to go ahead and quote myself here:

Pick 3 or 4 platforms that your target market uses, and focus on using those channels. Specialize in retail, food, fashion, or another industry big on visual presentation? Instagram and Pinterest may serve you well. High finance? LinkedIn is appropriate. Whereas writers and journalists tend to flock to Twitter and Medium. Recruiting Gen Z? Bite the bullet and figure out how Snapchat works.

(It’s also not a bad idea to create accounts on more platforms, even if you don’t intend on using or promoting them. Think of it as planting a flag in the ground. You have a brand and you’re ready to make use of it when you need it.)

Plant the flag. Use your messaging. Hootsuite has templates for sizing your social media profile pictures and banners properly (check #6), so you have no excuses not to get going.

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