Every other week, On Small Business reaches out to a panel of young entrepreneurs for answers to some of the most pressing social media questions facing small business owners. The following responses are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of young entrepreneurs.

Q: How can business owners use social media to actively seek out the type of talent their company needs?


Heather Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended in Derwood, Md.:

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn — among other niche social sites — are great resources for entrepreneurs to connect with talent. LinkedIn lets you search by keyword, which can be helpful in searching for an individual with a specific set of skills. You can also join LinkedIn groups relevant to the industry in order to connect with professionals there.

On Twitter, entrepreneurs can follow relevant industry hashtags or participate in chats where talent might be engaged, or search for people by keyword. And of course, all of the big three social networks are great resources for engaging your current network on your quest for a new employee.

Even if your company is small, your organization’s social pages should be utilized as key tools in hiring. Use them to advertise job openings and share what it’s like to work at your company. Share content such as videos or blog posts about the company culture or how to work for you. And be sure to maintain a positive brand image across each site by responding to comments in a timely fashion.

Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding in Boston:

First and foremost, entrepreneurs need to focus on creating a strong product and vision so that other people will have a genuine desire to be part of something bigger than them. They then need to maintain a strong Web identity so that both active and passive job seekers can find out more information about their company. Your Web site and your social network profiles should both showcase pictures of your offices, interesting projects you’re working on and a spotlight on your employees. The object of your Web presence, as it concerns recruiting, is to tell your story and explain the type of talent you’re working for. By putting it all out there, you will eliminate those who aren’t a cultural fit and attract those who are.

You should also search for talent on sites like LinkedIn to see who has the right skills to fulfill open positions and get introduced to them by your network. If that doesn’t work, Google them to find their e-mail address and introduce yourself.

To hunt down start-up talent, post your open positions on start-up job boards, which are more focused. People who want to work at start-ups are usually different than those who work at large enterprises. Go to sites like StartUpHire.com, Startupers.com, and Startuply.com. It’s also wise to post jobs on major tech blog boards such as Mashable. Discuss your openings in industry forums, select LinkedIn groups and your own start-up community. Your friends and family might be the ones who know the right people who fit the description.

Nicole Smartt, co-owner and vice president of Star Staffing in Petaluma, Calif.:

As the unemployment [rate] shrinks down, it gets harder and trickier to find top talent. At Star Staffing, we use social media every day to attract candidates, as well as using it as a search tool to find candidates with the right skills and experience for our open positions.

My favorite social media site is LinkedIn. I use it every day. I recommend using LinkedIn Advanced Search for finding passive candidates; just search by position and location, and browse profiles until you find someone you feel might be a perfect match. LinkedIn also has a group for almost every industry or topic, and the odds are high that potential candidates are a member of a group that is targeted toward their professional background and interests. Join the group, and then search for people within it that are based in your targeted location.

Another site on my radar that I’ve been testing out is Meetup — like LinkedIn groups, there is a Meetup just about everywhere on almost every topic. If you’re looking for a Web designer in Santa Cruz, for instance, check out the Santa Cruz Web Developer Meetup, which has more than 165 members. Search for groups via keyword and location, join the relevant Meetups and start attending in-person gatherings.

Once you find a suitable job seekers, sell your company as if you were the job seeker. When reaching out to prospective candidates, engage with them. Most candidates want to know about the company culture, vision and mission, benefits, tenure of current employees, and why they should join your company.”

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