It can be hard to keep up with new tools and technology in the recruitment space, but employers have "got to put a stake in the ground and start", says recruitment and social media specialist Paul Jacobs.

Too many organisations are focused solely on LinkedIn, he says.

"Yes, LinkedIn should be considered part of a sourcing and talent acquisition strategy - after all it's a handy CV catalogue with new tools and features ... but we're so focused on its 120 million or so users that we're missing out on talent on other planets across the talent solar system."

It's time, he told an ATC webinar recently, to "explore new frontiers".

It is "silly" of employers to ignore that Facebook has 10 million users in Australia, Jacobs says.

The average age of users - late thirties - is "older than many people think", and its fastest-growing demographic is over-55s. Further, 94 per cent of Facebook users aged between 18 and 34 log in every day.

The way employers have traditionally used Facebook is changing, Jacobs told the webinar.

"Facebook is being used in a professional networking, job hosting and career-related context, rather than how a lot of graduate employers have traditionally used it for employer branding, Q&A and those sorts of things."

Employers such as Oracle and Ernst & Young are successfully using Facebook to "tap into verticals", Jacobs notes. (Ernst & Young's "I heart accountants" group, for example, has more than 2,500 members.)

Jacobs's tip: Step away from just showcasing your organisation as an employer, and try to build communities with different occupational tribes.

Mobile recruiting
"Just in the last year mobile recruiting has become all the rage," Jacobs says.

Some 90 per cent of texts are read within 14 seconds (as opposed to emails, which are read within three days), he points out, so employers should consider using text/SMS as part of their communication strategy.

Despite the popularity of mobile technology, very few employers have deployed mobile recruiting apps and mobile-optimised career sites (websites that can easily be viewed and used on a mobile device), and while some of these are "very functional", none of them has been "addictive", Jacobs says.

"My recommendation to employers in New Zealand and Australia is to talk to your applicant tracking system providers. When people apply via your career site, how does that look on a mobile phone?

"You want to have something that's addictive, and not just replicate what's on your career site. Create something that people want to go to on a regular basis. I'm not seeing that out there. I'm seeing that with some of the apps being launched recently by celebrities and entertainers, so maybe we can learn a lot from what they're doing and apply it to a mobile recruiting perspective."

Jacobs's tip: Prioritise mobile optimisation of your career site over developing a mobile app.

There is a real trend currently around "infographics", and displaying information in visual form, Jacobs says.

Too many job advertisements "read like position descriptions shoved into print", but infographics, on the other hand, resonate with people, so "why not use them in a recruitment context?" he asks.

(View examples of recruitment infographics here and here.)

Jacobs's tip: Use infographics to illustrate not only the role and working environment, but how close you are to a cafe, and what the workplace dress standards are.

Social gaming
Gaming is "not just for pimply boys in dark rooms", Jacobs told the webinar.

Gaming is not a new concept, but there is more focus on it now "because it's on the social web. People are not just going in and playing games themselves, but sharing these games with other people".

In the recruitment context, Marriott has launched a game on Facebook that lets people assume an avatar and experience what it's like to work in their hotels, while Siemens has a similar game that shows people what it's like to be an engineer.

"I would like to see us in the recruitment industry apply gaming principles to the recruitment and selection workflow. In the talent sourcing context, why not create a game where it's like a treasure hunt, and we get the public to become sourcers, and enlist their friends and become addicted to the potential of working for your organisation?

"I think there's real potential around doing things like that. We should break down the whole recruitment and selection workflow and think, how can we make this process more fun, more challenging?"

Jacobs also says:
  • QR codes (quick response codes) are "trendy", and can be useful for directing candidates to a specific website without publishing a long URL, but aren't as useful as other tools;

  • Augmented reality - where website users can be immersed in a "real-world" scene - is being used effectively for commercial purposes but could have recruitment applications. Employers should consider developing apps that allow potential candidates to "work" in their business;

  • Crowd sourcing is useful for creating job descriptions, while helping to build your employer brand internally; and

  • Klout (along with other forms of social media ranking) is not all it's hyped up to be. If candidates are narcissistic you can appeal to their vanity by praising their Klout score, Jacobs suggests, but he is sceptical about the merit of basing hiring decisions on it.

Stop blocking social media
Finally, Jacobs suggests that those employers still avoiding social media and actively blocking employees' access are "sending a message that you don't trust them".

"If people are spending too much time on social networking sites it comes down to a manager to manage that with that employee and have that conversation."

"Personally, we should embrace social networking. Companies should start viewing themselves as communities, and if you block things internally then you're not a community and you're not using the social web opportunities.

"HR should not only be embracing social networking tools but championing them - being the champions within their organisation rather than just having conversations around risk and banning and those sorts of things.

"If you block them you're really missing out on an enormous opportunity."

Jacobs is hosting the ATC social media conference - Follow Us - in December.

You can watch the first webinar in this series here.