Find good employees through social media

Features - Technology

Recruiting has gone social with tools like Facebook providing targeted ad opportunities for companies where help is wanted.

March 2, 2018
Kristen Hampshire
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Social media is the new way to filter, target and attract qualified people to apply for open positions at your landscape company. But, it’s all in how you use the tool – and what you show people about the job opportunities. Here’s how three landscape firms are using Facebook and other social platforms to engage the type of people they want to hire.

‘That’s Plants.’

The job posting was for an administrative position, and the wording went something like this: “You have to like people and animals. Everything else is negotiable.” Plants Creative Landscapes in Decatur, Georgia, “boosted” the Facebook post for $250 and ran it for three days. In that time, 150 applications poured in. “It’s crazy,” says owner Pam Dooley, who relates that the company’s 20- to 25-percent annual growth rate – taking the business from $1.6 million in 2013 to an expected $5.5 million this year – is also a bit crazy. But it’s good crazy, and so is Facebook as a targeted recruiting tool.

From those 150 applications, Plants set up 12 interviews. Four cancelled, eight participated in a screening phone call, and now the company has two great candidates. “We have a meet and greet scheduled with the team next week to get their input,” Dooley says.

One will get a job offer.

Facebook “is not a magic hiring solution,” she says. But, it’s an effective way to target an audience based on age, demographic, location, hobbies and “likes.”

“We put the post out within at 15-mile radius of our office, and being in an area that is trendy, we felt like it would be money better spent because the people around us that we are targeting know downtown Decatur,” Dooley says. “We’re just scratching the surface of what we can do on social media, but I’ll tell you that Facebook’s targeted, boosted posts get us in front of our audience, and it has been helpful.”

What’s key is to communicate your culture through the posts, she says. Plants, having rebranded 18 months ago, is tuned in to who it is as a firm. “We are very, very relationship-driven,” Dooley says. “We want to get people in here who are empathetic and great listeners – they are truly customer-centered, because that is the core of who we are, and it’s important to us to put that out there for people to understand.”

So, the way a post looks, feels and reads is key.

“Everything you put out there has to match your brand,” Dooley says. “It has to connect so when people read it, they know, ‘That’s Plants.’”

Dooley pays attention to the posts’ aesthetics – the imagery. “We make it a consistent look.” And, the verbiage sounds like the company: friendly, open, interested in people. “For me, engagement and relationships come first, and when people can see who you are as a company through social posts, then it will attract the right employees – and customers – who will come in and give you everything they have.”

A Recruiting ‘Happy Place.’

Green industry social media groups on LinkedIn and Facebook are filled with people who are passionate about landscaping and interested in connecting with other professionals to learn about opportunities. “What we look to do is build connectivity with our audience through post engagement,” says Lori Gurka, digital marketing manager for BCLS Landscape Services in Virginia. “If they truly love what they do, they will hopefully make an emotional connection to the ad.”

The main goal: Provide enough information in a social media job posting to target the right people.

“Most social media lets you target specific areas to find candidates, which is helpful,” Gurka says, relating that BCLS posts to its green industry groups along with using filters to boost posts to reach likely candidates. “These groups have individuals who are looking for career opportunities.”

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For hiring, BCLS uses Facebook and LinkedIn – for different job openings, for different reasons. They’ve both proven beneficial, Gurka says. “LinkedIn tends to have more managerial applicants, where Facebook tends to have more boots-on-the-ground applicants,” she says.

BCLS uses keywords to attract candidates and it takes advantages of the sites’ jobs template that allows a company to fill in information about the position. Accepting online applications is also a box that BCLS likes to check. “I monitor both sites and forward the applications we receive to our human resources manager,” she says.

BCLS’ social media motto is, “This is our happy place,” and the phrase is on a sign that team members can take anywhere with them to take a picture. “We use it to show people we love what we do,” Gurka says, relating that employees have toted the sign along to take pictures that represent various aspects of the business they love, from irrigation installs to lawn care and patio projects. “This makes us relatable to our clients,” she says.

Their social media also mentions milestones like birthdays, anniversaries and even breakfasts for the team after a hard night of snowplowing. “This way, people understand when we say team, we mean it,” Gurka says.

Her advice for using social media for recruiting: “Make you and your company likeable,” Gurka says. “Use keywords! What is the position, what are the requirements and what are the key attributes you are looking for in a future team member?” And, be human. “A conversation about a trending topic in your industry might spark an online conversation with a person with the skills you need,” Gurka says, explaining that BCLS blends its recruiting ads with a mix of content. “This includes fun content that showcases our company being active in the community and personal stories to help us attract top talent.”
Filtering Applicants.

First, there’s the filter. Age, hobbies, location. Oklahoma Landscape in Tulsa, Oklahoma, might fill in something like ages 21-36, and hobbies like gardening, outdoors, biking, hiking. Then, Aaron Wiltshire, owner, sets the location, shrinking the Facebook map to his service area.

Next, comes the ad, then a “boost” that puts the post in front of the people Wiltshire wants to read it. “We have started using Facebook as a hiring mechanism and had really good luck with running sponsored posts for specific positions. We’ve always gotten response,” he says.

The last job post was for a lawn care technician. Wiltshire spent about $100 to boost a post and received 20 qualified applications for the job. (People can fill out and submit applications through Facebook, and Wiltshire receives a notification that a new candidate landed in his inbox.)

For this particular job posting, Wiltshire included a graphic that depicted the job role: an attractive, green lawn and ad-worthy beauty shot of a spreader. The wording specifies that the job is a career opportunity offering benefits. “To get the best people, we need to be the best company and provide great hiring opportunities with good pay, so we make it clear that we pay at the top of the industry and we have incentives, bonuses and paid vacation,” Wiltshire says.

“I know it’s challenging for owner-operators to put a lot of time into social media and manage it – I’d recommend hiring someone to do it.” Aaron Wiltshire, owner, Oklahoma Landscape

Facebook job posts include phrases like, “If you’re a goal-oriented person who likes to achieve, then this is a good fit for you.”

Wiltshire says, “As a rule, we want top-notch, good, clean people who want to be part of a team.”

And yes, those people are looking on Facebook for jobs.

“Millennials are getting their information from social media, and my goal is to be on the cutting edge of the market and stay one step ahead,” Wiltshire says, noting that he has been working with a web company that handles social media engagement. He retained a firm nearly 20 years ago to assist with the website and other efforts, and now the firm is charged with SEO and creating blog posts and pushing out up to four Facebook posts per week. (Recently, Oklahoma Landscape started using Twitter and Instagram.)

“Social media is important for brand awareness, and we have about 1,200 people who ‘like’ our pages and are seeing our posts and messages,” Wiltshire says.

Other than social media, Wiltshire doesn’t use other online job sites or classifieds to post job openings. Historically, the company has relied on referrals from its employees. But because he can target his posts so specifically, he’s finding that Facebook is an effective recruitment tool.

His advice to landscape companies that want to engage on social media, whether for job postings or brand-building, is to commit the time and have a great website to back up your social media presence. (You don’t want to send people to a site that’s outdated.) “I know it’s challenging for owner-operators to put a lot of time into social media and manage it – I’d recommend hiring someone to do it,” he says.