An orange belts’ take on social media, employer branding and recruitment

Back at the beginning of May I wrote the post – A newbie’s 10 considerations for social media recruitment (SMR).  I was at the beginning of my journey of discovering what role “social media” could play in recruitment. In marital arts terms I would have considered myself a white belt.


Well, a few months on and guess what?  I’ve been doing a bit more reading.  I’ve also been connecting, communicating and engaging with more people I perceive to be thought leaders in the field on twitter and in the blogasphere. Basically I’ve been building my knowledge further.  I haven’t been to an official grading but I would see myself as having moved upwards a couple of belts (I could still be a yellow [maybe even a white!]) but I’ll let the more experienced amongst you be the judge of that.


So what’s changed since my last post on the subject?


To begin with I’ve learnt enough to want to stop calling it “social media” in recruitment.  From henceforth I shall refer to it as…. Drum roll please…. Social Communication… In recruitment… TA DAA!  It’s only a small change but the former relates to the tools, the housing, the casing if you will.  The latter describes what you actually need to be doing with it.  I Don’t know about you but when I realised this, I had one of those light bulb moments.


In a nut shell employment branding, social communication, recruitment etc – they’re all intricately entwined.  It’s about connecting with existing and future employees (who could be anyone, anywhere by the way) on a deeper emotional level. If you can make this connection you’ll earn their loyalty and trust.  Do this and they’ll voluntarily push positive sentiment across their lateral communication channels about, and for you.  Candidates who have trustful relationships with each other will speak and positively promote / recommend you and your company as an employer of choice.  Importantly, they’ll do this because they want to – think of it as a referral program with the dial turned up to 11 (for all you Spinal Tap fans out there).  They won’t be doing it just because you’re telling them to with your traditional recruitment marketing techniques i.e. creating a message, wrapping it up in packaging and forcing it down their throats.  In recruitment this usually means in the form of poorly written adverts sprayed over an array of job boards and a badly designed careers site whilst the publishers sit back and prey they bare fruit.


In recruitment this latter approach is losing potency, especially with the better candidates out there. I emphasise “with better candidates”.  Poor – average ads will continue to attract poor – average candidates. If poor – average is what you want and this approach is working for you then crack on. Increasing numbers of higher quality job seekers are becoming digitally savvier.  They have found a place in the digital social space where they can turn these messages off.  Approach them in this manner in these new territories and they’ll disengage – worst still they’ll turn against you, which, by-the-by, is one of the reasons why I firmly believe using Twitter and LinkedIn to just push your vacancies (a la job boards in the days of Web 1.0) isn’t necessarily the best approach to take on these platforms.  I know there are some big brands (and smaller companies) out there that use LI and Twitter in this way to good effect in terms of attracting volume.  I’d be interested to see how engaged these candidates are, it would also be interesting to see other important metrics such as 1st Interview : Final interview, Offer : Acceptance, how long they stay in the company and so on.


Get the communication and engagement piece via your social digital channels. Build the trusting relationships by having existing and even ex-employees spreading the word in their lingo with their friends,  peers, networks etc and you know what? You might be starting to get the hang of this social recruiting shizzle (note to self – attempts at “getting down with da kidz” really isn’t cool.  Ah, “cool” much more 90’s – a place I can call home.) You should start to see candidates who are engaged in an employer before they even make the initial contact; Who are seamlessly onboarded once they’ve accepted their offer because they’re connected to a network they trust to help bed them in.  Because they feel at home quicker initial motivation levels should be maintained for longer, they’ll become productive sooner and will stay longer in the business because they’ll continue to be engaged.  They themselves will become employer brand advocates / ambassadors and so the cycle will continue and spread to others. A happier workforce = better results.  Better results = healthier company, happier stake / share holders and so on.


Forget about coming up with your “Social Media Recruitment Strategy” – If you take this approach you may be barking up the wrong tree.  Instead, look at your existing recruitment strategy(ies) and look at ways in which social media will enhance, amplify, bolster and support these.  Social communication needs to bolt on to what you’re already doing.  What you’re doing shouldn’t be bolted on to social media – if that makes sense?



So.  Go forth and multiply the people your communicating with in the digital space. Have conversations, build relationships, earn trust and loyalty, be known for honesty and transparency – All of these things are the killer commodities when it comes to using digital social communication in your recruitment efforts.  Do this and you’ll increase traffic to your web site (which will obviously need to be worthy of their attention); Improve positive sentiment towards your employer brand; Improve the relevance and quality of candidates applying to your vacancies; increase employee satisfaction and have a positive impact on whatever recruitment strategy you’re currently running with at the moment.


And for those that think this digital social bubble in recruitment is going to burst.  It isn’t you know.  I agree, I don’t necessarily like the sensationalists spouting on about a revolution. It’s an evolution. Social media, social communication, digital social comm…. Whatever you want to call it has fundamentally changed the way people interact and communicate with each other and it’s here to stay.  People have a primitive instinct to want to “belong”. We’re naturally social beings who like being part of, and contributing to societies with our stories, advise and opinions etc. We’re not going to give up this medium. A medium that knows no global borders or boundaries. It will soon be as seamlessly integrated into our communication lives (if it isn’t already) as television, telephone and email.  Neither has died. They have merely evolved and will continue doing so.


As a final note I would like to recognise and thank Matthew Jeffery (A Vision for the Future of Recruitment: Recruitment 3.0),  Oliver Blanchard (Social Media ROI) and Eric Qualman (Socialnomics).  Your thoughts, opinions and material have have been a huge help in step-changing my knowledge in this field and have played a major part in the writing of this post. Thanks guys.


Hungry for more?  Check me out at - training and coaching through recruitment complexities, and please feel free to subscribe.  Follow on Twitter @TRecKnowledgy also.


Thanks for your time :o)

Views: 123

Comment by Sandra McCartt on June 20, 2011 at 1:53pm

And let's hope that that the current offering of research that indicates overuse of cell phones causes brain cancer is really junk science or the furturologists are going to have to find something else to call a revolution unless they are drooling in their oatmeal someplace due to wikiwaves that have fried their brains.


I do recall, however when some folks thought that strange waves coming out of TV sets made people sterile or something to that effect.

Comment by Ben on June 21, 2011 at 2:14pm
I hear ya Sandra.  I hear ya :o)


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