IRS shares tips for recruiting through social media

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Federal agencies have long used job fairs and university outreach for recruitment, but the Internal Revenue Service is finding success through less traditional channels, such as social media. Through the agency's presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and GovLoop, recruiters direct job seekers to information on jobs.IRS.gov--the hub for all recruitment activity at IRS.

The agency concentrates most of its social media outreach on Facebook, said Eric Erickson, a communications and social media specialist in the IRS's recruitment office. The agency has slightly more than 4,000 likes, but it's never set a goal for Facebook likes or Twitter followers.

"That's not a huge number," acknowledged Erickson during a Nov. 6 DigitalGov University webinar. "The bottom line is, we're never going to have as many followers as someone like the Department of State."

Rather than focus on metrics, the IRS's primary goal is to provide a place to interact with people interested in working at the agency and answer their questions.

Like many agencies, the IRS has rules on its Facebook page about swearing and business solicitations. In many ways, successful interaction depends in part on clear standards and expectations, said Erickson.

"We tell them we will answer their question within five business days. So, we're under-promising and over-delivering," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, we respond to them in the same day. I'd say most of the time we respond to them within an hour."

The platform also allows IRS to showcase why the agency is a great place to work—especially for certain segments of the workforce. The agency posts regularly about minority celebrations, such as Black History Month, National Disability Employment Awareness Month or holidays such as Veterans Day.

The shorter, 140-character format provided by Twitter, means the IRS uses it primarily for job announcements. Erickson recommended agencies research the best hashtags for a subject and consider multi-lingual tweets in order to reach appropriate audiences. He also suggested agencies avoid posting the closing date of a job announcement in the tweet.

"Sometimes jobs are canceled. Sometimes they close it early, or they might put that job out there and then extend it for a longer time," he said.

Finally, the IRS uses LinkedIn for targeted recruitment--especially for high-level jobs. Using the LinkedIn recruiter tool it's possible to set specific job criteria, allowing the IRS to look for someone as specific as a former librarian with two or more years as a CPA who lives in Peoria, Ill. said Erickson.

"Anyone who works in government knows we can't look like we're doing any kind of pre-selection," he added. "But there's no reason we can't reach out to them."

Sending potential employees an email alerting them of a job opening that they may be qualified for is completely fine, he said.

"It's like talking to a person at a job fair," said Erickson.

For more:
- go to the event page (includes archived webcast, presentation materials and speaker bios)

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