Recently, a number of recruiting and HR leaders have told me that they’ve “tried this whole social media thing to recruit, but it hasn’t worked out so well.” These folks read about the buzz surrounding social media, heard of how other organizations were using it to successfully recruit, and figured “If it works for them, why don’t we give it a try?”
Well, you can probably guess from the title of this article how that experiment ended: after signing up for some tools, paying for some LinkedIn licenses, and encouraging staff to use their new social media channels, results fell far short of expectations – and created a great deal of confusion. After all, surely this foray into social media should have resulted in a BIG improvement in the numbers. Facebook has over 700 million members! And Twitter has all of those charming little tweets! How could this be? Still, despite the hype, these recruiting and HR leaders resigned themselves to the fact that social media for recruiting just didn’t “work for them” — and so they gave up.
Whenever I encounter a story like this (and there have been many!), the two questions that I always follow up with are: “What exactly were you hoping to achieve?” and “What have you been told about using social media to recruit?” The answers typically reveal a belief that the social media space is some kind of large and untapped pool of candidates who are ready for the picking, and all that you need to do is reach out and grab ‘em. Frankly, this perception is unrealistic – and can lead to failure.
Now, I’m not saying that social media should be ignored as a recruiting strategy. On the contrary, depending on the type of talent your organization is looking for, social media can be an extremely viable option. For example, LinkedIn has certainly deserved the kudos it has received. Yet LinkedIn, on its own, has limitations (as all standalone tools and platforms do). For organizations who want to differentiate themselves and put in place a broader strategy that taps into a steady flow of specialized talent, the answer isn’t merely social media – it’s social recruiting. Frankly, if you’re facing increased pressure from within your organization to deal with a growing list of hiring needs, and your current team doesn’t have the capacity or skills to handle this, then considering social recruiting should be at the top of your priority list.
To start with, I’ll highlight some very important “lessons learned” that can help you determine if social recruiting is right for your organization:
1. A savvy social media marketer is not necessarily the best person to help you create and implement a social recruiting program.
Although many of the underlying concepts can be the same, the difference will be observed in the execution and training. In my experience, this is because recruitment nuances, methods and industry terms are more effectively translated and incorporated by an individual with combined recruitment and marketing expertise.
2. Social recruiting is not about utilizing tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Blogs.
Social recruiting is a mindset and a collective approach that must be carefully considered, planned for and nurtured. Using one or two of the tools above may generate some results, but if what you’re looking for is a strong and sustainable talent pipeline, social recruiting needs to be approached in the same way as other strategic business priorities: setting a clear objective; establishing a plan; and outlining the support, resources and time required.
With the above in mind, here are additional factors to consider when deciding whether social recruiting can – and will – work in your organization:
It’s a marathon, not a race. Be patient, give social recruiting time, and provide your team with room to get used to it. Remember, social recruiting is still very new and requires patience. Results don’t happen overnight.
Talk to your recruiters and sourcers — often. If your recruiters and sourcers don’t fully embrace your social recruiting program, it’ll fall apart. They’re the front line people who drive execution. They also have a pulse on what’s working, what isn’t working, and obstacles that need to be addressed quickly. Plus, they’re perfectly placed to provide you with invaluable real-time information, so that you can make smart tactical decisions to keep your social recruiting on track.
Decide what your success will look like. Social recruiting success is different for each organization. Some organizations are fine with “being on Facebook.” Others want a tangible return on investment, such as increased hires as a result of social sources. It’s critical to know what you’re striving for, so that you can establish and drive towards success factors. When you do, you’ll not only keep your team motivated, but you’ll justify to your stakeholders why social recruiting is beneficial and necessary.
Make it easy for your internal stakeholders to understand what you’re doing. One of the common struggles that recruiting and HR leaders face is due to the interdependency between social recruiting and other functions within an organization, such as IT/IS, marketing and legal. Your job is to establish why social recruiting is necessary, and to “sell it” internally. Be aware that this might not be easy, as the very concept of social recruiting seems to raise some red flags for individuals not in the recruiting space. However, you can achieve compromise and build solutions if you’re prepared and “do your homework.” That is, do your research, identify potential challenges, and speak with industry peers to understand how they dealt with these issues. You’ll find that your obstacles are not all that different than those faced – and overcome — by your peers and counterparts.
Think integration. As mentioned above, social recruiting is not about using a single tool, or even a suite of tools independently. Rather, think of social recruiting as an ecosystem that works best when each component compliments each other and is connected. Creating an integrated social recruiting platform using across all four of the largest social mediums (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube) is imperative, as they serve different audiences and purposes. Eliminating one or more, and not having interconnectedness, leads to missed opportunities.
Clarify and promote your Employment Value Proposition. One of the more obvious mis-applications of social media for recruiting purposes is the broadcast of job descriptions. Numerous organizations are hiring for the same talent — so what makes you so special? Candidates “buy” culture, opportunity and growth; not job descriptions! It all starts with a well-crafted Employment Value Proposition. Get clear about what you have to offer, and use that to promote your brand as an Employer of Choice.
Focus on engagement. In the world of social recruiting, engaging your audience is everything. The key with social recruiting is to be social. Yes, it will require a thoughtful approach to connecting with candidates, and dedicated resources that are on point and timely in responding. However, if you get this part right, be assured that it’s the quickest way to fostering trust and building a connection with current and prospective candidates.
Get trained. Proper social recruiting training can be the key differentiator between your team ramping up quickly and being successful, or puttering along with little results. Find the experts and enlist the required training for your team. It’ll be the smartest investment you make.
Develop a “buddy system.” Members of your recruitment team will evolve at different speeds, which means that not all of them will adapt quickly (or as quickly). Those who take the lead, however, can share tips, tricks and successes on a peer level, thereby making it easier for the team as a whole to improve.
Be brave! You’re entering into an emerging space. Despite what you hear, very few have earned the right to call themselves social recruiting experts. One thing is certain however: we are now in a world where access to information is instantaneous and inexpensive. Use this to your advantage; it’s free and plentiful. You simply need to know what your objective is, how to engage the right resources, the determination to stick to your plan, and the courage not to be afraid to make mistakes. Very few people “get” social recruiting on the first try. However, when you optimize and refine your ideal social recruiting mix, the benefits are numerous.
As you take all of the above back into your organization, keep in mind that even though your initial experience with social recruiting may not have been successful, be assured that it can be. True, social recruiting is in its infancy, but it’s evolving rapidly, and there are lessons, tips, and tactics that can be learned from those who are doing it right. The key is to surround yourself with resources and a network to help you avoid the pitfalls.
Also, in closing, I’d like to acknowledge that if you’ve had negative recruiting experiences with social media, you may – understandably – be reluctant to dive back in. Yet I’d remind you that your previous efforts might have been misguided due to bad information of flawed expectations. Regardless of your initial experience or what you’ve heard, my advice to you is clear: don’t give up on social recruiting! Instead of losing faith, regroup, re-commit and re-align yourself with knowledgeable and experienced social recruiting expertise. I can assure you that if you follow the right advice, you won’t be disappointed.
Good luck, be brave, and trust me, you’ll love the results!
Joe Minaudo is the head of Recruitment Strategy and Project Delivery with Granite Consulting. Granite Consulting is a recruitment strategy and advisory services firm dedicated to bringing innovation to the recruitment industry. Granite Consulting is recognized as a thought leader in the social recruiting space, and is recognized for its ability to provide services such as social recruitment strategy, program implementation and social recruitment sourcing techniques for recruiters. For more information on Granite Consulting, please visit www.graniteconsulting.ca.