HR Technology Conference: Talking Social Recruiting With SHRM

I was kind of surprised when my friends over at SHRM reached out to me with a few questions about social recruiting; after all, SHRM is decidedly not a recruiting-focused organization, and that same membership that seems to actively work to block their employees social media access also is, in my experience, anti-social (at least when there's not an open bar involved).  

I was even more surprised when they printed my answers, considering I was honest. But then again, I'm not selling consulting services, so I can safely assert that social recruiting sucks.  

Here's the post that originally appeared at We Know Next (which they said I could republish, and I'm guessing we have a completely different readership):

With the HR Technology Conference (#HRTechConf) just around the corner, we're inviting our Next Official Bloggers to offer their perspective on how technology is impacting the profession today -- and their predictions for the future.

The following is a Q & A with Matt Charney

Q:  Everyone is talking about social recruiting. How important is it for employers to include a social media component in their recruiting strategies and why?

MC:  I’m not sure everyone’s talking about social recruiting; I think the people who are actually being successful on social have long ago stopped talking about it and started doing it.  I think the whole topic of social recruiting is pretty passé - we’ve pretty much proven after all these years of obsessing about it as an industry that, in fact, it doesn’t deliver as promised.

Social media used to be perceived, I think, as a potential source of hire – and let’s take LinkedIn out of this conversation, since it’s an unfair comparison given their professional focus – we’re seeing between 2-3% of candidates coming from social in every source of hire study out there, a number that has stayed stagnant for the past couple of years. Even though our technologies and systems have developed social functionalities, the evidence is clear: it’s not a great way to source candidates or drive applicants.

I think that not every employer needs to spend time worrying about social – in fact, in most cases, I’d encourage HR to just allow employees to use these networks at work, enabling instead of policing social, which is a low risk, high reward way to actually make social recruiting effective – and that’s by targeting social strategies on existing employees.

In short, over 50% of all external sources of hire come from referrals, and according to Career XRoads data, the average referral is about 400% more likely to get hired than an online applicant with no company connection.  But for some reason, we focus our social medis efforts on that giant pool of candidates we’re probably not going to hire.  Instead, it’s actually essential to make social media a strategy component not for recruiting, but for retention – and it’s up to HR to target those initiatives at the employees they have, not the ones they want.  It’s a way easier population to reach, a captive audience, and a chance for a call to action to actually get answered.

Q:  What about social recruiting makes you most excited for the future of the industry? 

MC:  When we stop talking about social recruiting and start taking it for granted as one of the new realities of this industry.  I’m also excited by the fact that social media is finally making HR pay attention to marketing – and realize that essentially, what they’re doing is recruiting – only they’re going after customers, not candidates. I’ve seen that realization really matter at a lot of companies who have made social work across the enterprise.

Q:  What's your social recruiting prediction/trend for 2015?

MC:  The focus is going to shift from tools and platforms and become much more basic, with an emphasis not just on having a presence, but on having a presence that actually generates engagement and creates the kind of content that can start a conversation.  We’re seeing social media become more and more a content distribution channel instead of a recruiting channel, and as that focus on storytelling and content continue to move from the margins to the mainstream, I think the focus is going to shift from the medium to the message. And it’s about time, too. 

Q:  As technology evolves, what do you think the future of recruiting will look like?  Will software programs and computers replace recruiters?

MC:  Software and computers won’t replace recruiters, because it’s unlikely you’ll develop an algorithim that can effectively overcome objections, represent a culture, and actually build a relationship with candidates.  Even if we get really close, Asimov’s laws (which have worked so far) tell us that we’ll never trust our emotions to robots, and those emotions are what recruiting is all about.  Now, payroll  and compensation?  I’d be worried, because the technology to kill those specialty functions is already here.

The future of recruiting is going to put an emphasis on hiring people for culture fit, not skills, and look at development potential instead of direct experience.  We’re consistently seeing screening and matching tools around those formerly subjective soft skills make it much more effective to target candidates who will fit the company, not just the job.  I think the future of recruiting is just like its past: it’s all about building relationships, it’s just now, maybe, the tools help us do this at scale and with greater efficiency & efficacy than ever before.

Q. What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding about social recruiting?

MC:  That it works, or that it has to be there. There’s no silver bullet, and in this case, it’s  not actually necessary for every business.  You don’t have to be there, but if you are, you’ve got to go all in and commit to cranking content and creating engagement, or else you’re just wasting everyone’s time.  A close number two: social media isn’t free, if you want to do it right.  But if you want it for nothing, you’ll get what you pay for.  I promise.


Views: 339

Comment by Chris Brablc on October 3, 2014 at 9:12am

Matt - Great answers and I think you hit the nail on the head with your answers.

To me, I think the confusion around social recruiting is that organizations are looking for quick solutions to include social in their strategies vs. really trying to make it an organic part of how they interact with candidates and enable their recruiters to be themselves.

There is no solution out there that you buy and now you're doing social well but plenty that can help you curate content, manage conversations and measure performance of these channels. But social should never just be a silo in the strategy.  The ones that do it well aren't using just recruiting tools to do social but are leveraging marketing and social tools to execute the day to day as well.

I also just wanted to address the 2-3% is misleading for a few reasons. First, the way this data is captured by the majority of companies is outdated (77% are still using self-reported drop-down in the application) and typically inaccurate.  There are better ways. Second, as an industry we are moving towards sources of influence in attracting candidates vs. a single source of hire. Social can be a part of the influence sale you have with a candidate.

And I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts that social is not a pre-requisite to recruiting effectively. Every organization needs to figure out what helps them best attract qualified talent consistently and focus on the initiatives that help do this.


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