If you’re already using social media to market your small business, you know that it’s a reliable and cost effective resource to help you find your next great customer.

But did you know that it can also be used to help you find your next great employee.

Take LinkedIn for example.

The professional networking site offers unique features that let small businesses easily post jobs, search for prospective clients, and check references – saving you time and improving your chances of finding an employee who will fit your needs.

Here are four steps to using LinkedIn to find your next great employee.

Prepare your business page

Recruiting with LinkedIn is one of the few times on social media when your personal profile and business page will need to be used together to get the best results. Think of your LinkedIn business page as your business’ resume – it’s where potential employees will look when deciding if your business is a right fit for them. Compared to your profile, which you can think of as your personal rolodex, with the connections you’ll need to rely on in the next step, when searching for employees and references.

Here are 3 things to look for when preparing your business page.

  • Use keywords: There are thousands of prospective employees already searching for jobs within your industry. Focus on making your profile keyword-rich to improve your chances of getting found.
  • Update your contact information: You want to make sure that if someone finds you on LinkedIn, they’ll be able to contact you directly.
  • Update your company overview: This is where potential employees will look to learn what you do and whether or not the business fits their interest and expertise.

Reach out to your network

Now that you’ve prepared your business page, you can start to reach out to your network of connections on your personal profile.

One way to do this by sharing an update on your profile, explaining the position that you’re trying to fill and the type of candidate you’re looking for. Another way is by contacting connections directly, with a personalized message.

With either approach, you want to make sure you have an established relationship and that they understand your business. Here are examples of the connections most beneficial to your search.

  • Current or previous employees: Employees you’ve had good experiences with and who have contributed to the success of your business are a great asset when looking for candidates. They know your business and the expectations you have for your employees.
  • Other small business owners in your community: With LinkedIn, business owners can develop a network to help refer qualified candidates to open positions. If a business within your network receives an application but they aren’t hiring, they can refer them to your business. Just make sure the relationship goes both ways.
  • Family, friends, and other trusted connections: This doesn’t mean hiring your cousin or recruiting your best friend. It means staying connected with the people who you trust to make good recommendations for your business.

Reach outside your network

If you’re new to LinkedIn and haven’t established a strong network or if you just want to extend your search outside of your network, there are other features that you can take advantage of.

LinkedIn Groups: Groups are discussion forums centered on a topic, which you can use to connect with like-minded peers and learn more about your industry. They are designed to help people demonstrate their passion and expertise. Joining or just keeping up with the discussion in these groups is a great way to find qualified candidates or have them find you.

Filtered Search: Using the filtered search options on LinkedIn is one of the most proactive methods for finding prospective job candidates. The tool lets you narrow down your search to a specific area, industry, keywords, and more.

When using this tool, be careful not to be too proactive. Don’t send an invitation to connect based on the fact that you think they might be a good fit. Do your research and when you do decide to connect, make sure to personalize the invitation explaining why.

Post your position on LinkedIn Jobs

For the quickest return on your LinkedIn recruiting efforts, you can pay to post your position on the site’s Job page. If you have the budget, this is by far the most effective resource for finding qualified applicants, as thousands of professionals are already searching job listings on LinkedIn. You will also have the benefit of having LinkedIn recruit on your behalf, as they will recommend your job to LinkedIn users with related interest or experience.

When you post a job on LinkedIn, the site will recommend it to users with interest and experience that fit the position.

When you post a job on LinkedIn, the site will recommend it to users with interest and experience that fit the position.

Link in to a more social recruiting strategy

Success on LinkedIn, with networking or recruiting, won’t happen overnight. But the time you put in – preparing your page and profile, building your network, or connecting with your industry’s groups, will help build professional relationships that will be invaluable to recruiting for your business.

Have you used LinkedIn to find new employees for your business? Tell us about it in the comments below.