Case Study

Using social media to recruit and diversify applicants

Read how Blood Cancer UK increased and diversified its talent pool by advertising job vacancies on social media, particularly LinkedIn.

25 February 2022

The human resources team at Blood Cancer UK increased and diversified its talent pool by advertising job vacancies on social media, particularly LinkedIn.

Key benefits and outcomes

The changes to how and where Blood Cancer UK advertises its job roles has increased the diversity of applicants. The organisation has attracted 23 per cent more candidates from outside of the charity sector, and seen an increase in different age groups applying: 7 per cent more 16–24-year-olds, and 16 per cent more 45–54-year-olds. It has also seen a 10 per cent increase in men applying for roles.

What the organisation faced

The charity wanted to create a more diverse workforce to help them meet the organisation’s goal: to beat blood cancer in the United Kingdom.

Expanding the reach of job adverts by using social media was one of the ways that helped to do this.

What the organisation did

The human resources team looked at all aspects of the organisation’s recruitment processes and identified where interventions that would help diversify the applicant pool could be made.

Interventions included increasing the number of job boards they posted on, but the biggest difference came after the charity saw how job adverts shared via social media networks tended to reach more diverse audiences, particularly job adverts shared via LinkedIn.

To ensure it was using the platform as effectively, the charity conducted research to understand how to best use the free tools and techniques LinkedIn provides to get the best results from adverts.

The LinkedIn guidance on job posting including on the best times to post and top tips on job posting   proved most useful, as did external reports from Hootsuite and Hubspot.

One of the main positive impacts on job reach was the use of video content: Blood Cancer UK’s internal analysis showed that a job advert that is accompanied by a video is viewed up to five times more than a standard advert on LinkedIn. Encouraged by this, the HR team liaised with the communications department to discuss how it  could create a video that would best show the job responsibilities and showcase the organisation’s culture - something that had previously been identified as one of the main reasons why existing staff like working for the organisation.

The outcome was two short, informal, easy to caption videos that showcased the role of fundraising director, the culture of the fundraising team that the successful applicant would be joining and the culture of the wider organisation. You can watch the reminder video on LinkedIn and as well as the first advertising a position. A longer video which went into more detail on the same topics was also published.

The videos were easy to make and filmed on an iPhone at home.

The fundraising director role was the first have an accompanying video. Now around 50 per cent of roles have an accompanying video, the target is for all roles to eventually have a video alongside the job advert.

Results and benefits

Diversity has improved since the recruitment approach was revamped. Blood Cancer UK has attracted 23 per cent more candidates from outside of the charity sector and seen an increase in different age groups applying with a 7 per cent increase on 16–24-year-olds, and 16 per cent more 45–54-year-olds. It has also seen 10 per cent rise in men applying for roles.

The videos allowed Blood Cancer UK to demonstrate the positive organisational culture that people will become a part of if they are successful in their application and interview. This was important. as a poll of existing staff informed the organisation that its culture was one of the key benefits of working at Blood Cancer UK. Over the past 12 months, zero people who have joined have left their roles within the first six months, a positive indicator that what the organisation is promising in the recruitment materials is experienced by new starters.

Overcoming obstacles

The organisation faced some challenges in implementing the new process and with some staff who felt they were not adapting processes fast enough. These were resolved with dialogue and clear communication with other parts of the organisation.

While it only took the HR team a month to review and rethink how recruitment would work, conversations with recruiting managers, who would prefer to rely on familiar processes as they are quicker, continue. In this scenario, the HR team has found that pointing towards data that shows more diverse teams is more productive teams has helped such as those by the Harvard Business Review or McKinsey. The team also offers one-to-one coaching to talk through the new approach to recruitment.

The other side of the coin, was that staff who challenged the HR team for not going fast enough in adjusting their processes to improve diversity. Clear communications into what the team was doing to improve processes and how this balanced against other organisational priorities and things the HR team was working on helped in this instance.

Takeaway tips

  • Keep talking about ‘why’ the process needs to change to ensure engagement.
  • Use the data that already exists for those managers who prefer facts.
  • Keep the videos quick and informal- anything too polished can look fake.
  • Use the videos to show what makes that team a great place to work.

Further information

For more information about the work in this case study, contact Jess Badley, head of HR and OD, Blood Cancer UK,