As a recruiter you want to be where the most qualified, talented, and largest pool of applicants are. Human resources can leverage social media to tap in to potential recruits. This type of head hunting is called social recruiting. It's about engaging with users and using social media tools to source and recruit talent.

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have over 535 million combined users. That equals a lot of potential talent for your company. But how do you find the right person for the job you have available using social media? Here's how to get started.

How to Use Social Media as a Recruiting Tool: Understanding Each Social Network

By now you should be familiar with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. But just in case your're not, here is a quick overview.

"LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals," states the company's website. That is the corporate way of saying they are a giant jobs board and you can connect to other professionals. There are over 65 million professionals on LinkedIn.

Facebook is the largest of the social networking sites with over 400 million users. Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study, and live around them. It is intended to connect friends, family, and business associates. The model has expanded to include connections to organizations, businesses, and interests -- not just individual people.

Twitter is a microblogging social networking service. Messages, better known as tweets, are no more than 140 characters. According to their website, "Twitter is a simple tool that helps connect businesses more meaningfully with the right audience at the right time."

So now that you know what the major social media sites are, which one should you use and how do you use it?

Digg Deeper: The Business Owner's Social Media Toolkit

How to Use Social Media as a Recruiting Tool:  Using LinkedIn

The most obvious ways to use LinkedIn are to post jobs you have available and search for candidates. It costs $195 to post a job for 30 days. Or you can buy job credits and pay less per job posting if you buy more credits.  You can also sign up for LinkedIn Talent Advantage.  It is an exclusive suite of tools for recruiters. But if you don't have the budget to pay for job postings or join the Talent Advantage you can still tap in to the free resources LinkedIn offers.  
You should start by building connections to people you already know. This could include former co-workers, current clients, local entrepreneurs and even friends and family. Because you never know who someone else may be connected too that could make for a top-notch candidate. You should also join groups where you might connect with potential candidates. For example, if you are always looking for IT consultants you can find an affiliated group on LinkedIn. Once you join relevant groups find ways to begin discussions with people in the group. If you notice people who are active in the group, they always ask questions and answer others questions, those might be the people you hone in on for job opportunities.

There is also a free way to advertise that you are hiring on LinkedIn without posting a job. Use your network activity box (also known as a status box) to broadcast that you are hiring. "Looking for an IT consultant. If you know someone, maybe even you. Contact me."

When you find someone who may be a good fit for your company you have to evaluate their LinkedIn profile. Does the person have a complete profile including a picture? Do they have recommendations from peers, managers and colleagues? Are they a member of groups relevant to their field? Do you have any 2nd or 3rd degree connections to the person to get a more personal referral? You can find out a lot about a person from their profile before contacting them for an interview.

As small business owners, you can easily leverage LinkedIn to find talent.

Digg Deeper: More about LinkedIn

How to Use Social Media as a Recruiting Tool:  Using Facebook

How many candidates do you have in your database? Whatever the number is it doesn't come close to how many potential candidates are on Facebook. Facebook provides easy and affordable ways to increase your applicant pool. First utilize the Facebook Directory to search for users, pages, groups and applications. 

You can post a job for free in the Facebook Marketplace. The ad requires basic information such as location, job category, subcategory, title, why you need to fill this position, description and if you want to post your photo with the job posting or another image. The limitation of a free job posting is that you can't target it to a specific group of people like you can with a Facebook Ad.

Facebook Pages are another free resource within Facebook. A Facebook Page is a public profile that enables you to share your business and products with Facebook users. If you don't have a Facebook Page you can search other Facebook  pages to find people both active and interested in your field or that would be interested in your available position. If your company has a Facebook page you may want to use it as a recruiting tool. Make sure the information about your company is relevant and up-to-date. You can also post job openings for your fans to see. These people are passionate about your company and can be just as passionate about working for your company.

Another option is to post a Facebook Ad if you aren't getting the results you want from searching. The advantage of the ad platform on Facebook over its rivals Google Adwords and Yahoo! Advertising is that Facebook has laser targeting ability. With a Facebook Ad you can choose the exact audience that you are looking to target. The system will ask a series of questions about the characteristics of the people you want to see your job posting ad. You will be asked about the group's age, sex and specific keywords related to the position. Facebook will then calculate how many users fit that criteria. You have the choice to pay per click (how many people clicked on your job ad), pay per impression (how many people potentially saw your ad) and set how much you are willing to pay. You can decide whether to run the job ad continuously or only during a certain time.

For example, if your company is in Minneapolis and you are not including relocation in the budget for this position you can target the job posting to only be shown to people that live in Minnesota or bordering states. If the position is an entry-level position you can target the job posting to a younger age demographic. It is normally a violation of EEOC to target for or against a specific gender but a Facebook Ad is a loophole to bypass that. Because if you know a woman would be better suited for your position, you can target your job posting to only be seen by women. The options are endless to how narrow a field you can define. Be careful to not make the criteria too specific or you may not get the applicants you want.

Digg Deeper: More about Facebook

How to Use Social Media as a Recruiting Tool:  Using Twitter

Twitter can be powerful for small companies or a recruiter who wants to get an edge over the competition. The easiest way to recruit is to tweet jobs you have available. "Looking for a Sales Rep in NYC, Very competitive salary, apply at (include a shortened url)."  

If your company has a Twitter account but not a lot of followers you can expand your network and build relationships with clients and job candidates on Twitter. Run a quick search on Twitter ( for anybody discussing a specific keyword and you can get hundreds of contacts. You can search for people you know, by location, by industry or interest, by hashtag, by popularity, by time and more.

To make your job posting tweets standout you can also use hash tags, #. Hash tags are used as a way to filter and find information on Twitter. All you have to do is include the hash tag with a keyword in your tweet and it becomes instantly searchable. Here are a few examples of hash tags you might consider using: #job, #jobpost, #employment, #recruiting, #hiring, #career, #staffing, #salesjob, #NAJ (that is Twitter lingo for 'Need A Job?')  You can use more than one hash tag in your tweet but remember you are limited to 140 characters so be strategic in which hash tag or tags you use.

You can engage with candidates and see what topics they tweet about. There is also the opportunity to market events you will be attending. "Stop by our career booth at the Sales Tech Expo."

There are companies like AdLogic that help businesses target to a particular Twitter audience. AdLogic lets clients create custom job feeds and corresponding specialized Twitter profiles for each area that they recruit for.

Your company Twitter account is also an opportunity to inform potential hires about your company. Your tweets say a lot about the company and what topics are important to your company.

When you find a potential candidate on Twitter evaluate their activity to see how often they tweet, if they have a healthy balance between followers and following, how big is their network and the quality of their tweets. Do they keep a balance between personal and professional tweets? Do they only post updates or do they respond to others and retweet others fully utilizing what Twitter is about?

Digg Deeper: More about Twitter

How to Use Social Media as a Recruiting Tool: Return on Investment

Social media recruiting helps an employer get to know a potential job candidate. Is this a highly skilled, well-rounded individual that fits with your team? As with any job opening, using social media recruiting requires time and effort but it's an investment in longer-term benefits for your company. Using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter takes recruiting back to its grass roots of networking but for a digital age.

Digg Deeper: Improving Your Hiring Practices