Traditionally, the CEO has played the role of company evangelist. In fact, having a single company representative was perfect for a broadcast, one-way method of information dissemination. However, with the rise of social media and the corresponding call for authenticity, having the CEO assume the role of evangelist is no longer necessary or even desirable. Just as most consumers are mistrustful of direct advertising, there is also an increasing likelihood that statements from your CEO may be discounted regardless of veracity. So, if you can’t rely on your CEO, who can your company depend on to effectively spread the word about the merits of your organization?
In my opinion, I believe one of the most underutilized resources within most companies is current employees. Current employees who passionately believe in the strategic direction of the company can be some of your best evangelists. Many of these employees know your company inside and out, and thus have the knowledge base to credibly speak on a wide range of topics. In fact, your target audience may be better able to connect with current employees as opposed to a larger-than-life CEO (think Steve Jobs).
As the Social Web gains greater and greater prominence, leveraging a large group of internal employees to represent your employment brand is smart business sense. Prospective candidates can not only connect with someone that has a similar background and career goals, but it also gives current employees the opportunity to help improve the competitive advantage of your organization (a win-win-win). The resources required to provide this type of high-touch connection to prospective candidates is impossible for the recruiting team to handle independently. And, why should they? If a prospective candidate is seeking a position in engineering, finance, marketing, or operations; it makes sense to connect with someone already within that functional group.
Now, I know some are thinking that if candidates are given the opportunity to connect with current employees that this priviledge will be abused. While this is certainly possible, there are also ways of using technology to ensure that only pre-screened candidates are given access to employees. So, why don't more organizations give prospective candidates an opportunity to connect with current employees?
About the Author: Omowale Casselle is the co-founder and CEO of mySenSay, a social recruiting community that connects college students and corporations.
I also agree that employees can be a companies best foot forward in terms of creating a climate that attracts and retains talent, but only when the company truly sees and embraces the value in it. All too often a great company fosters this kind of loyalty and then shoots itself in the foot with layoffs. Putting the business before the people. The impact not only extends through those former employees but through the remaining population as well, with survival guilt and the unintended "management through fear of job loss" that then permeates the environment.
I know I have taken a left turn on your point about giving job seekers the access to the employees and in fact I worked for a company that implemented such a plan. However, without effective communication on how employees were meant to interact with the program it saw only failure.
Bottom line - you are right, with new media available many companies need to embrace what it can bring them as afar as candidates and PR. Those same companies just need to make sure that they are delivering a consistent message to the entire enterprise so that everyone from the latest new hire to the CEO can understand the expectations and help drive positive results.
Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree that this type of initiative needs to be undertaken with clear guidelines. I'd like to hear more about why the program was defined as a failure. Did prospective candidates not appreciate the program? Were employees going off message?
I don't think that an organization can do this without a consistent message. For example, a company may try to dictate what employees talk to prospective candidates about. But, if that doesn't correspond with their direct experience; it will be contrived. Prospective candidates will recognize this and employees won't be excited about delivering an inauthentic message.
For employees that truly believe their organization is amazing because of the strategic direction led by senior management and the implemented by all members of the team, I think using social media tools to communicate with prospective candidates would be very helpful in recruiting new employees.