When it comes to bringing in the right talent, we tend to think that big-name brands have it easy — or at least easier.

High-caliber candidates flock to top-tier organizations like Google and Microsoft, reducing the recruitment process to a pleasant walk in the proverbial park.

For the rest of us, attracting quality candidates can be quite the challenge. Small businesses and startups competing with big brands for A-list talent often find themselves at a major disadvantage.

The solution lies in social media recruitment.

Social networks have completely reshaped the recruiting process. In the hiring process, size, brand recognition, and big budgets once prevailed. Now, however, engaging content, likability, and genuine substance are the makings of easy and successful recruitment.

Social media is an open and authentic means of attracting and targeting top talent, and it provides invaluable recruiting opportunities at little to no cost to the business. Even the smallest startups are now able to publish exciting job openings and communicate their company brand to the largest possible audience.

Aside from its affordability, social media recruiting is an ideal match for the more organic, grass-roots nature of today’s startup culture. Smaller companies are generally more successful at cultivating engaged followings on Facebook and Twitter, which is a huge leg up in the new recruitment arena. By presenting your company in an accessible, likeable manner and tapping into the right technology, hiring has never been so easy — or so economical.

Social media is your friend

Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can provide your company access to huge numbers of qualified candidates. Facebook alone has more than 800 million users and also boasts the highest rate of engagement of any website. In order to reach the largest possible audience, businesses must maintain attractive career pages and share interesting and authentic content.

Social media is driven by likability. Published items cannot be found through keyword searches but are instead discovered when they spread virally across the digital community. In order to ensure that job postings are liked, shared, and recommended across networks, companies must provide rich and engaging career-focused content. This content needs to be optimized for social media, which enables companies to reach second- and third-degree friends.

Take advantage of social media’s userbase by publishing job opportunities and career events to your company’s Facebook Page and News Feed. In addition to posting career-related information, introduce your networks to your brand and culture by participating in relevant industry dialogue and contributing thought-provoking stories.

Embedding dynamic, interactive features directly within your company’s Facebook Pages will create a positive, appealing experience that will encourage sharing and solidify your online image. Be sure to incorporate your company’s YouTube channels, blogs, and other social media profiles. Job postings themselves should also be personalized, preferably including photos of recruiters and links to their personal online profiles.

The more enjoyable and engaging the experience, the more likely users will be to share the information with their networks, thus creating a buzz about your company and maximizing your exposure to ideal candidates.

Capitalize on the startup ethos

At some point over the past few years, startup culture has picked up a cool new sheen. It’s being validated by the media and celebrities, so why not take advantage of that reputation, yourself?

By nature, web-based and other tech startups tend to garner quite a bit of attention due to their innovative offerings, fresh perspectives, and desirable company culture. Small businesses are, by reputation, attractive places to work. Casual office environments, mobility, superior work/life balance, interesting clientele, and exciting projects are just some of the benefits.

Social media provides ample opportunity for small businesses to brand themselves, so recruiters and hiring managers should be sure to highlight these unique perks when establishing their company’s Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

In social media, likability and engagement are the keys. Potential candidates should come away from your pages and job postings with a better understanding of who you are as a team and how they would fit into your company.

Enable and encourage employee referrals

Employee referrals often deliver the best talent with minimal expenditure of time or resources. Recent improvements in social recruitment technology have streamlined this process, enabling employers to leverage the referral networks of their existing employees.

Companies can now access the social networks of their employees, reaching an even larger talent pool. Considering that a typical social media user has 150 people in her personal networks, companies with as few as 100 employees can leverage 15,000 first-degree friends and 2,250,000 second-degree friends.

By encouraging employees with referral bonuses and by keeping track of referral activity, targeting the best and the brightest has never been easier.

Within a startup community, teamwork and a shared vision are essential to running a smooth operation. Referral hiring reinforces the idea of cooperation and employee contribution, and it also increases the odds that the new recruits are a good fit with the company culture.

Jindrich Liska is the Chief Product Strategist of Social Distribution at iCIMS. iCIMS, a leading provider of innovative Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) talent acquisition solutions, is an Inc. 500 and Software Satisfaction honoree focused on solving corporate business issues through the implementation of easy-to-use, scalable solutions that are backed by award-winning customer service. iCIMS’ Talent Platform, the industry’s premier candidate management solution, enables organizations to manage their entire talent acquisition lifecycle from sourcing, to recruiting, to on-boarding all within a single web-based application. iCIMS is one of the largest and fastest-growing talent acquisition system providers with offices in North America, U.K., and China. To learn more about how iCIMS can help your organization, visit www.icims.com.

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