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How to effectively use social media as a hiring tool

Gylee Games CEO Chris Bergman on why his studio hires via Twitter and Bluesky, and what he's learned from it

Whether you’re leading a studio of ten people or 100, building a group of quality team members is of the utmost importance. Vision, ideas, and planning are useless without staff that can turn them into reality.

However, the typical hiring process requires a significant amount of time and money, two very valuable resources for smaller studios. While we have been able to successfully hire team members through standard hiring practices, we’ve found that recruiting through social media apps such as Twitter and Bluesky is faster and more efficient.

This guide will explain the benefits of hiring through the above-mentioned social media apps, how to use social media as a hiring tool, and the results Gylee Games has seen after taking this approach.

Why we hire through social media

Who you are counts an incredible amount when you’re trying to recruit. Talent will be attracted to larger studios with easily recognizable IP almost every time. As a small studio creating something new, we don’t have that edge. Instead we have to rely on other tools, including social media, to discover high-quality recruits and quickly ensure that they are good fits for our company.

At our size, we have the easiest time gathering junior-level recruits. Cincinnati is fortunately surrounded by a number of universities with game development programs that we’re able to pull from. But if you’re not located in a tech hub and if you’re not a prominent name, finding senior-level talent takes more work.

If you’re not located in a tech hub and if you’re not a prominent name, finding senior-level talent takes work. We’ve [turned] to social media as a great equalizer

These developers are frequently approached by larger companies through recruiters or go through their normal hiring methods. We’ve taken to social media and used it as a kind of great equalizer, directly reaching out to senior-level developers as soon as we see that they’re back on the market.

Of course, not everyone we discover is a good fit for Gylee Games, and while this would typically be discovered after the formalities of the hiring process – when a recruit is trying to leave the best impression – social media offers a fantastic window into who you are hiring. Posting habits, likes, and the trends someone follows can tell you about what kind of person they are.

Ensuring that our team meshes well is extremely important to me, and it saves us time, money, and headaches to have some information on who a person is before we decide to onboard them.

One of the greatest upsides we’ve found when recruiting through social media is that we will consistently find higher-quality recruits. This is doubly so for artists and animators who tend to share their work on Twitter.

Recruiting through social media means that in many cases you’re able to bypass the carefully curated portfolio an artist may provide you that doesn’t provide a whole picture of their body of work. Instead, you can find examples of their work scattered across the media tab of their Twitter page. It’s much harder for recruits to misrepresent themselves or their abilities when they are very present online.

How to effectively hire through social media

Hiring through social media is a fairly simple process that combines regular use of any given app – though we’re focusing on Twitter and Bluesky as most candidates for positions in the games industry can be found there – with a sense of mindfulness. Being able to scroll through Twitter is one thing, but doing so while understanding it as a recruitment tool is entirely different. In the end, you approach social media through a different lens.

The first step is a simple one: follow anyone who you would like to join your team. It doesn’t matter if that person follows back or not, though if they do it’s a clear indicator that they have some interest in you and also want to keep tabs. You can then track this potential candidate’s work, career path, and see when they’re available to be hired.

The first step is a simple one: follow anyone who you would like to join your team

When I’m trying to hire senior staff, I go through my follows first, as games industry workers at this level are likely to post about their new availability on social media. As soon as they do, the first step towards the hiring process is a simple DM away.

Issues with this approach appear as social media apps evolve and change. Twitter’s algorithm shifts present an immediate problem, making it much harder to discover talent through the simple act of scrolling. I’ve found that hashtags are the best and most consistent solution to this.

Hashtags such as #portfolioday are some of the best ways to find potential workers across a number of disciplines, though artists, animators, and writers are the most prevalent. Creators use hashtags such as this to share their work, allowing you to quickly see what they have recently produced, typically without the filter of a curated portfolio. This presents one of the best opportunities to discover a wide range of people whose work you like as well as their availability.

It goes without saying that this is a sizable time commitment. Along with being mindful while scrolling through various feeds, you have to look past a person’s work and at their posting habits, the kinds of things they like, and other nuanced parts of their online profile that tell you who they are. As recruiting through social media is very much a DIY approach, you’re essentially performing the first round of vetting for a candidate. Regardless of whether or not you reach out to someone or they are suggested to you, it’s necessary to do some research to ensure they will be a good fit for your company’s culture.

Hiring on social media comes with an inherent downside as well: you’re also presenting yourself to any potential employees

Hiring on social media comes with an inherent downside as well: you’re also presenting yourself to any potential employees. I use Twitter and Bluesky normally; I post about myself, my likes and dislikes, and the games I’m playing. In the same way I’m able to learn about a recruit by going through their profile, they can learn about me and come to their own conclusions.

It’s why one of the most important parts of hiring on social media is to be "good" at social media. While it’s an abstract concept, being "good" at things like Twitter is essential. It gives people a look at who you are as an employer, and when you lead a small team, your own personality comes into consideration. As such, you have to create a stream of interesting content while being able to balance posts from your professional and personal life.

Social media should, in general, be used and not shunned. Leveraging it as a tool gives you the ability to find recruits for your team and learn from other people, as well as form closer ties with peers in your industry. Becoming part of the games industry community on these platforms means that you’ll be able to tap into them when needs be.

Results we’ve seen from hiring through social media

As a whole, hiring on social media has been incredibly beneficial for Gylee Games. While it isn’t the only recruiting tool we’ve used, a majority of our staff (around 80%) has been hired through social media as opposed to traditional hiring practices. This figure includes numerous members of our various departments as well as all four of our main voice actors, all of whom have been essential in carrying out our creative vision.

Because these employees were reached out to over social media, we’ve also seen astounding figures for retention. Due in part to how personal the process of recruiting from social media is, and how quickly we get to know a potential candidate, there are no surprises regarding our studio’s culture or the project we’re working on for someone we look into hiring.

As such, we have never had to let go of anyone we’ve hired through social media. Misrepresentation on a candidate hired through this process is much less frequent, saving us the time and money that comes with red flags being thrown up following onboarding.

Chris Bergman

The largest difference made for Gylee Games by hiring through social media though has been the number of high-quality team members we’ve brought on since adopting this practice.

Let me put this into better perspective: when we try to hire through conventional methods, such as LinkedIn, we receive 300 or so responses. It’s a lot of people to sort through, and for a small team, that’s a fairly heavy load on top of normal daily operations. As such, it’s easy to miss someone who is actually valuable in this process, while hiring through social media casts a much smaller net.

If there’s someone I’ve followed who would be a good fit, I’m able to quickly DM them. If that isn’t the case, I put out a call on Twitter or Bluesky and ten to 15 people respond or are recommended to us, all of whom are fantastic candidates. The challenge from there is picking someone who is not only a great fit for the job but a good fit for our company. The truth is that anyone who we’ve hired through social media has always turned out to be a high quality team member.

Key takeaways

What I hope game development teams big and small realize is that social media is a crucial tool. Aside from the benefits of establishing yourself on social media platforms, they are excellent places to discover and hire new talent in a quick and effective manner.

While it requires you to view social media through a different lens, the returns in terms of the team that you can build hiring in this way are extensive. I you do decide to hire through social media, please keep these key points in mind:

  1. Connect with potential hires frequently. Part of using social media to hire is an extreme sense of mindfulness. When you’re scrolling through your feed, you should always be on the lookout for someone who could bring something to your team, even if they aren’t currently available to hire. You never know if that person’s career path will change, and if it does, you can quickly make your company their next step. Use hashtags to further expedite this process when possible. I follow portfolio day religiously to find brand-new talent that I’d like to join my team, for example.
  2. Develop an understanding of potential hires. Whether you’re able to look through art pieces, short stories, previous projects, or simple posting habits, social media grants you a window into a person you might hire. Come to understand their body of work and whether or not they would be a fit for your company before extending an offer or beginning any process that could come with associated costs.
  3. Master the platform of your choosing. Whether you’re using Twitter, Bluesky, or another social media platform to grow your team, you have to be effective at using it. That goes beyond being able to communicate online fluidly and with ease. You have to create a stream of interesting content and build a community for yourself. Remember that your online presence is as much of a window into who you are as much as a potential employee’s is into who they are. You have to sell yourself, your company, and your IP, and accomplishing this is easier when you are able to effectively use a platform.

Chris Bergman is the founder and CEO of developer Gylee Games, which focuses on succinct projects that can be enjoyed in short bursts. Gylee Games is currently developing the narrative-focused beat-’em-up Ra Ra Boom for PC, due out in Fall 2023.

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