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Expert urges employers to use social media as hiring tool

To attract quality workers, companies should treat job seekers as consumers and add social media tools to their career websites, an expert from a leading online jobs site told local human resources executives Wednesday.

"Great workers have choices, and you want them to choose you," said Eric Winegardner, vice president/client adoption at "So what are you doing to market yourself to them and really stand out from everyone else?"

Even in a down economy, talented candidates have the upper hand, he said. Companies have to change the way they view job seekers and integrate social media tools into their online recruitment efforts to give applicants an engaging and authentic exposure to the company.

"It's taking everything we are doing to the next level by effectively integrating social [media]," Winegardner said.

He spoke to about 150 human resources and recruiting executives from area businesses, who are also members of the Buffalo Niagara Human Resources Association. The breakfast event was in the Millennium Hotel in Cheektowaga.

"Recruiting is helping people find better, helping them on the path to better," he said. And utilizing social media tools is a "personal undertaking, not a corporate undertaking. This is about social business," Winegardner said.

When job seekers apply for jobs online, 75 percent of them don't complete the cumbersome, multiscreen process, he said. But if companies viewed candidates as consumers and their job openings as their products, the recruitment process would yield better results for both parties. "My job is my product, and I'm trying to sell you on why that product is right for you, and why you want to use that product every Monday morning to every Friday night," he said.

With the popularity of social media, flat job postings at companies' career sites will no longer fly, he said. Social media can be an effective way to sell those positions.

"People want to have a face; they want to have an individual connection, to talk to an individual person," Winegardner said. "A company can't talk, but its people can."

Creating a presence on Facebook, Twitter and other sites, and linking them to career sites, gives job seekers a sense of the work experience at a company, he said.

"You've got to think of social [media] as the evolution of the Internet," Winegardner said. "Your job posting is a very important part of the process because this becomes the call. But you can no longer post, I need an admin, an assistant. Through social media, people who are doing the jobs give exposure to the jobs."

Lisa Stefanie, professional development director of the Human Resources Association, said the organization aims to keep its members abreast of new technology and practices, and the presentation was an opportunity to get the latest from an industry giant.

"Finding and keeping talent are always at the forefront," said Stefanie, who is also president of Triple Track Partners in Amherst. She said local human resources executives and recruiters find that candidates tend to get lost in the online process, but the presentation introduced the group to's methods to minimize the layers.

While social media are important, Winegardner said, the focus shouldn't be on the tools, a message that resonated. Interviews through Skype and similar applications were recommended.

"As wonderful as technology is, that human part of it is still really key," Stefanie said., which has a partnership with, sponsored the event.