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Published July 15, 2013, 09:37 AM

Employers take to social media for recruiting

During its most recent applicant recruiting campaign, the Minnesota State Patrol decided to go beyond the traditional help wanted ad. The law enforcement agency flooded social media with calls for candidates.

By: Brandi Jewett, Forum News Service

During its most recent applicant recruiting campaign, the Minnesota State Patrol decided to go beyond the traditional help wanted ad.

The law enforcement agency flooded social media with calls for candidates.

“Just say no to cubicles. Apply to be a state trooper through July 12. No law enf. Exp. Necessary,” the patrol posted on Twitter.

Each of the tweets is followed by the hashtag #IWantThatHat, referencing the aptly named campaign hat worn by troopers.

Bruce Gordon, director of communication for the patrol, said the goal of the recruitment campaign was to encourage a diverse group of people to apply for the job.

“We targeted people who might be thinking of a career change,” he said. “They could bring a unique skill set and unique life experiences to the patrol.”

Multiple platforms

Twitter wasn’t the only medium the agency used to attract applicants.

When the patrol wasn’t tweeting, it was posting videos of troopers speaking about the job on YouTube and holding live chats on Facebook.

Using social media allowed the agency to contact an audience it might not have been able to reach before, according to Gordon.

Digital approaches such as this are being used by more companies in an effort to find potential employees, according to Keith Reitmeier, area manager for Job Service North Dakota’s Grand Forks office.

“Employers are struggling to find workers (in North Dakota),” he said.

The state saw a 2.8 percent unemployment rate in June. That’s down from 3.2 percent in May, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded as the lowest rate in the United States.

There were more than 21,000 job openings in the state last month — 2,200 of which were located in its northeast portion.

“The demand for workers is strong here,” Reitmeier said.

All sorts

Across the river in Minnesota, the unemployment rate was almost twice as high at 5.3 percent in May. It was still on the low end, with states like Nevada, Illinois and Mississippi posting rates above 9 percent.

Even with a relatively low unemployment rate, Gordon said the patrol’s recruitment campaign garnered a large number of candidates.

The patrol tweeted that more than 200 people had applied to be troopers as of July 2. That number has since grown, and official totals should be in this week, Gordon said.

“We had a large number of candidates we would consider nontraditional,” he added.

If hired, those nontraditional employees will join a workforce with a diverse background.

Graphic designers, bankers, copywriters and even a meteorologist now work for the agency after deciding to make a career change, according to Gordon.

Trooper Allen Thill holds a degree in meteorology and worked as a meteorologist for eight years before joining the Minnesota State Patrol.

“I really had no law enforcement background at all,” Thill said in one of the patrol’s recruitment videos. “And here I am. I wouldn’t change any of it.”

New want ad

The move to social media for job recruitment is a natural one, according to Reitmeier.

The old methods of attracting applicants are still successful, but employers are searching for new ways to draw potential employees to their company.

“It isn’t easy being a (human resources) professional and trying to recruit talent right now,” Reitmeier said.

He said some companies are hoping that a digital push also will attract younger applicants to the area.

Building Web presence and a base of followers allows these companies to reach out to people who already have an interest in their business — even if it’s just following them on social media. Grand Forks businesses can be seen placing help wanted ads on Facebook and Twitter and asking viewers to share them with someone who may need a job.

Even employment service companies such as Job Service have joined the digital fray. The agency’s Twitter account alerts its followers of openings and upcoming job fairs around the state.

“We’re doing everything we can to help,” Reitmeier said. “There are many different paths to recruiting workers, and this happens to be one of them.”