What Serendipity has to do with social media recruiting

Unexpectedly finding something you weren’t even looking for: that’s the principle of serendipity. Some of mankinds greatest discoveries are based on this principle. There are many examples where something completely different was found while searching for something specific, here are two of the most famous:

Der Genuese Christopher Kolumbus macht sich im Auftrag der Königin von Spanien auf den Weg, den Seeweg nach Indien zu finden, um dann auf dem Atlantik falsch abzubiegen und 1492 die “Neue Welt” zu entdecken. 

Die Entwicklung von Penicillin beruhte ebenfalls auf einem Versehen – einer Verunreinigung in einem Labor 1928 –, das jedoch Millionen Menschenleben rettete und seinen Entwicklern den Medizin-Nobelpreis einbrachte. 


Connection between serendipity and humanity

And that’s how we all feel. We humans like to find things that interest us even though we haven’t actively sought them out. We like to roam flea markets and stumble upon real treasures. Not infrequently, the love of our lives meets us in this way, because it is not the plan that makes life interesting, but chance that makes it beautiful. It’s the same way on social media. We’re looking through the online world and happen to come across a job posting. This is exactly why social media recruiting is so important.


Why the candidate-centric applicant market necessitates a different approach

So if serendipity plays such a big role in almost every area of life, why not in the job market? Professionals should feel the same way: They should find jobs they weren’t even looking for – and be interested precisely because of that.


But what does it look like?

The status quo is that the candidate market is now candidate-centric, so professionals and managers can choose where they want to work, so the most attractive offer decides. If a suitable candidate is already working for a competitor, he or she will probably not even think about switching. Most certainly, he is not reading job boards to learn about your company and the opportunities there. And because he doesn’t, the task is to arouse his interest elsewhere.


Seek and you shall find. He who does not seek, does not find.

Employers typically consider actively seeking candidates, while latent seekers are left out of the equation when approached. Thus, qualified professionals and companies do not find each other simply because they do not even know that the other exists. This fact has implications for how companies need to appear in order to promote themselves. You need to pick up workers where they are. And that means online, around the clock.


Helping randomness to get off the ground: Big Data meets Serendipity!

Passively seeking candidates who may already have a job can’t be reached through print media or job boards. That’s why recruiters need to know where to advertise so that the latent seeker takes notice. In the war of talents, the where is almost as important as the what.


Our digital companions and social media recruiting

The smartphone and tablet erase the distinction between working hours and the end of the day. If you’re sitting on the commuter train, perhaps passing the time on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, or letting your mind wander while you’re driving home, you don’t necessarily expect to stumble across an interesting job offer. And it is precisely because of this unusual setting that it attracts attention. We look through social media and discover a job posting by chance. This is where serendipity meets social media recruiting.

By means of data-driven advertising and online marketing, the target group is picked up where it is at the moment and addressed at eye level. With over two billion Facebook users and one billion Instagram users, your candidate pool has just grown many times over.


Easy contact: Usability is key

Once the fish has taken the bait, make it as easy as possible for the candidate to get on board. The application process should therefore be kept extremely lean. Some things to consider:

1. Avoid media discontinuity

The classic application process is optimized for desktop browsers, but not for the smartphone. Candidates often carry their application documents with them on mobile devices so that they can apply directly at any time. If they have to switch terminals first, the likelihood of applying decreases. Therefore, avoid a media break and enable mobile application.

2. Brevity is the spice

Apart from the fact that the job offer must be optimized for both Android and iOS and all browsers, “mobile first” also means that the website with the advertisements may actually only be a landing page. So it helps to use less text, but keywords, because long websites drive away candidates. And drop-down menus can make more out of less: Candidates initially see less text, and at the same time you can track which buttons they click, i.e. what is relevant to them.

3. Multi-channel approach

The digital application process should be as convenient as possible for candidates. Classic application channels such as email, the website or even various career sites are not going out of style, but accommodate candidates. It is best to include WhatsApp, SMS or voice messages as communication channels and also application apps.

4. Need for speed

The support of different channels and lean processes open up another advantage: they shorten response times. Ideally, applicants who pass the time on their smartphone and became aware of your company during the commuter train ride should be able to apply between two stations. Next stop: your company. And the sooner you respond as an employer-to-be, the better.


Allow me to introduce you to your new employer!

Many of these users may not yet be aware of your company or the opportunities you offer. To make your company appear attractive and candidates feel comfortable, the approach must be casual without being pandering. This applies both to the company’s own website and to its presentation on social media. Give them a positive experience right at the start that rubs off on your brand; as we all know, there’s no second chance for a first impression. Communicate to him how you want to stand out from the competition as an employer:

  • You need to understand what your Unique Selling Proposition, DNA and values are.
  • Cards should be played with an open mind and the salary level should be communicated in addition to the requirements.


Pre-assessment replaces the CV

Apart from the fact that latently searching candidates sometimes don’t have their CVs with them on their smartphones, a curriculum vitae is no longer up to date because it doesn’t capture what matters in professional life today. Today, training and degree programs can hardly be reconciled with the requirement profile of the professions. Moreover, the formally attested level of education provides no information about the skills of the applicants, nor about their mindset. Therefore, a lean assessment is recommended, which also makes hidden skills visible. This is how you find the candidate that fits your company. The charm of this variant is that candidates learn about your company at the same time, because questions and also the tone of a conversation reveal what is important to you.


Instructions for Serendipity

But how can you now benefit from the principle of serendipity?

The goal is to positively surprise candidates at a moment when they expect nothing. Provide an environment where serendipity is possible because you give more weight to chance than to plan in your candidate search. Therefore, in order to attract especially latently seeking professionals and executives, you should:

  • Advertise where the target group is and use social media recruiting.
  • Communicate with her at eye level and with open cards.
  • Make the application as convenient as possible, forgoing a resume in the first step.

As Louis Pasteur said, chance favors only the prepared mind. Professionals know what to look for. Employers, on the other hand, just need to be careful to send the right signals in the right places.


Voilà, Serendipity!


If you enjoyed the blog article, feel free to check out our article on interim recruiting.
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