Social Recruiting – What’s Your Strategy?
Taking a Multi-Channel Approach Produces Optimal Results
The evolution of social recruiting and the use of Web 2.0 technologies to develop talent communities of passive and active candidates have created new opportunities for organizations seeking ready-made talent pipelines and stronger employment brands. While the concept of social recruiting is nothing new – recruiters have traditionally relied on communication platforms such as the telephone and email to connect with potential job seekers for years – social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning and Twitter are opening doors in the new recruiting frontier.
While these social networks may enable recruiters to go where they have yet to go before, and play a pivotal role in any employer’s long term strategy for attracting and maintaining relationships with key candidates, they are only one part of a successful interactive recruiting strategy. To experience the best results, organizations need to embrace a multi-channel interactive strategy that also includes the major search engines, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click advertising along with new and emerging social networks.
The Foundation of Your Social Strategy: People or Pipelines?
Most social recruiting strategies started by accident. Recruiters and candidate sourcers got online, created individual profiles and started networking by building their personal networks on sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and now even Twitter.
Whether your recruiters built these networks at home or at work, there’s a question regarding who actually owns these personal networks. If you’re paying them to build these contact networks for the purpose of recruiting prospects to your company, I would argue that these networks are assets of your company, and should be treated that way.
The problem is that the social networks don’t make these networks portable and therefore they can’t be transferred to either your company or another recruiter. This means that when or if a recruiter changes focus or leaves your company, the network goes with them along with all the contacts, and you’re stuck starting from scratch to rebuild the network and start the cycle all over again.
On the corporate front, many companies are starting to build their career site pages on Facebook and Twitter along with possibly an alumni group on LinkedIn, but the problem with this approach is that you’ve got everyone ‘swimming in the same pool’, and can’t target any of your jobs or messaging to specific groups. Taking this approach, you can’t use these groups in any strategic way to communicate jobs, news, events or other key information, and in most cases, people will tune you out if you’re not talking to them about their area of interest.
In other words, if you have thousands of fans on your Facebook careers group, and you are posting all your jobs on your wall, then the technology people are going to be hearing about clerical jobs and visa versa, which means that they will turn you off because of the noise.
However, if you take a talent pipeline approach, and build your social strategy right, then you could create the “technology jobs at ABC Company” group, and the “finance careers at ABC Company” group, etc. This would allow people to join these groups online and now you can target specific jobs to those groups, have hiring mangers and employees join these groups, and by the nature of how you set them up, you will be attracting and maintaining relationships via the social networks to help fill future pipeline recruiting needs.
Best of all, you can now use your recruiters to point people to these groups and channels to have people join/follow/fan your company within these channels versus a recruiter’s personal networks, and you’ve solved the problem of your social assets walking out the door.
Also, by taking this approach, you’ll help your company attract more talent into your company’s online networks and groups because people search on the social networks just like they search on Google. For example, a person might search on Facebook for accounting job groups that they can join, but they will rarely search for a company by name.
If you’ve named your social groups correctly this will help make your social channels more easily found by people on the networks. In many cases the social networks even recommend people join groups based on their profiles, which helps you grow your social groups automatically simply because you built your strategy correctly out of the gate.
Social Networks: Dynamic versus Static Relationships
One of the best aspects of the social networks is that for the first time marketers (which we all know, recruiting is marketing) can have a dynamic and long term relationship with your candidate marketplace versus a static one-time relationship.
In other words, when you get a contact off a job board or even a friend referral, and you put that person into your CRM or contact database that is a static contact. You have to re-contact that person over and over again to find out where they are, if they are looking for a new opportunity, and/or to see if they’ve garnered new skills or even changed jobs or companies.
This is a lot of work that requires an army of recruiters to pull off in larger organizations.
However, if you can start linking, grouping and following people on the social networks you now have a dynamic relationship that automatically changes as your audience changes. It then has built in marketing capabilities so that when you are updating your world (tweeting, wall posting, etc.) it automatically updates within their world, and they can decide if they want to respond or share your information with their network.
Also, if you want to start searching for people in your networks that have a certain certification, experience, title, skill, or work at a specific employer, you know that you can access them via the social network where they are always updated and you have an open channel to that individual real-time. This is the real promise and power of the social networks and the employers that understand how to harness this platform.
Social Recruiting: Source or Channel? (Or both?)
I constantly get asked “how many candidates have you gotten on Twitter?” or “how many placements have your clients made from Facebook?” This implies that most recruiters are only thinking about the social networks as a “sourcing” pool (like the job boards or resume databases) versus as a channel that can be used to talk to people.
Granted, you can get on any social network and start searching for people and trying to recruit them, but again, this is only the sourcing view of how to use the networks and will prevent most people from using sites like Twitter for their recruiting strategy until their audience gets online.
I view the social networks more like a channel that makes it a lot easier to talk with and communicate with people than traditional forms of communication. To illustrate, remember 20 years ago when candidates would send their resume and cover letter through the U.S. mail? It was a highly inefficient channel for candidates and companies to communicate through – until the fax machine showed up, offering a more advanced channel.
Candidates could then fax their resume on Monday after viewing the Sunday classified ads and recruiters could get to them faster. Did we wait for everyone to get their own personal fax machine before advertising our fax numbers? No! As technology advanced, we started having people apply to a company email account, and then through our career Web site and Application Tracking System (ATS) and so on.
The social networks are a natural evolution of a communication channel that makes it easier to communicate with pipelines of people versus having to email or call them. They allow people to “tune in” to the elements of communication that they want to – and react to the opportunities they want – just like on Facebook when someone responds to a wall posting or a tweet online.
Smart employers (like Microsoft Entertainment and Devices) are starting to advertise their social channels to prospects on their career site – and are even pushing people into these channels – so that if a prospect wants to work on the Xbox they can choose to follow Microsoft’s Xbox jobs on Twitter, join their gaming group on LinkedIn, or become of fan on Facebook. Whichever channel the prospect is tuned into, Microsoft is there, and can now have a dynamic long range relationship with that candidate as their career progresses and has an open channel to the candidate for the long haul.
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