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It’s obvious that the competition for top talent is fierce. As unemployment numbers decline, the battle to recruit qualified candidates heats up and the place to find them is through social media networks. Networking and connecting through social media is the No. 1 way people look for work, but many small business owners are reluctant to embrace social media for recruiting. A recent Jobvite study reveals 73% of respondents age 18 to 34 found their most recent job through an online social network.

Not only is this how people are searching for work, but by using social media your potential talent pool gets a lot bigger. Without incurring any extra expense, your company can get in front of job seekers around the world—anywhere, anytime. Traditional recruitment marketing once made this scope of exposure cost-prohibitive.

Once you’ve made the decision to take the leap, where do you start? Take these five steps to become a social recruiting star:

1. Make your website the hub for all your online activities: Make sure your job postings are front and centre, visible on your home page. Promote these jobs on popular social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. People will be driven to your website to view the full job postings, and at the same time they’ll be able to get the big-picture story about your company.

2. Create a mobile-friendly website: Smartphones are changing the way people look for work. It’s now possible to job-hunt while on the go—people can check for jobs over lunch, while waiting for a friend at a restaurant or simply “surfing.” A mobile-friendly site will also score your business points with the tech-savvy generation—a major plus when you’re trying to attract applicants in this demographic.

3. Activate LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts: There are many social media options out there, but these three are foundational for reaching potential employees in various industries and demographics. You need to be present on all three to make sure you reach different skill levels and ages in the broadest sense. Information travels fast on these networks so you’ll be able to reach a wide audience in a short time, for free.

4. Dedicate resources to keep your content fresh: When you continuously produce new content—such as blog posts, tweets, LinkedIn and Facebook updates—you rank higher in Google searches, which means your jobs will have greater prominence in online searches. Be active and be interesting, and people will check back often to learn more about what is new with your company.

5. State your value proposition loud and clear: What does your company have to offer employees? You may not be able to compete with the salaries and perks offered by larger corporations, but think about what you can give. Lifestyle and balance are important considerations. Tell potential employees why they would want to work for you. Push these messages out through your social media channels.

With more and more people making social networking tools a major part of their daily lives, it only makes sense for businesses to have a visible social media presence. From a recruitment standpoint, access to a wider pool of talented people can mean filling vacancies faster and with the right people. The key is to act now.

Shannon Bowen-Smed is president and CEO of BOWEN Workforce Solutions, which creates customized solutions for businesses, such as flexible workforce management and transactional human resource services. Read her company blog at Bowenworks.ca.

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