News from #InTalent: Has LinkedIn Handed Recruiters a Branding Pandora's Box?

On Wednesday, the big news at Talent Connect was that LinkedIn had gone mobile.  But mobile access wasn't the only upgrade that LinkedIn's Recruiter product received, although this one received very little fanfare:  recruiters who occupy a LinkedIn Recruiter seat can now post status updates directly onto the Company's Career Page.  On its face, it makes sense.  There's a 94% adoption of social recruiting, according to Jobvite's 2013 Social Recruiting Survey and 100% of that 94% use LinkedIn to identify, attract, and connect with candidates (in case you're wondering, only 65% use Facebook).  

When this feature was shared with me, LinkedIn reps, including Parker Barille, LinkedIn’s Product Chief for Talent Solutions, talked about the benefit it would bring to recruiting teams & how it would enhance their engagement initiatives.   Sure, on the surface, that makes sense.  The benefits to the smaller recruiting team were echoed by multiple LinkedIn representatives that I queried regarding this new addition to the Recruiter platform.  "After all," one asked me,  "why wouldn't you want to be able to allow recruiters to add compelling and engaging content on the careers tab of the company page?" 

Let me count the reasons why you might not, for there are several.  For the sake of word count, I'll focus on my top 3 reasons why this new feature very well could be a "Branding Pandora's Box" if not managed very, very carefully:

1)  While recruiting is a form of marketing, it's a huge stretch to then say that recruiters are ostensibly brand marketers.  They're not.  Recruiters are marketers, but there's a difference in "marketing" and "brand marketing" that comes into play here.  Marketing?  Is what you do (it's push).  Branding shares who you are (it's pull).  Marketing is largely tactical; branding is extremely strategic and is the underlying foundation that aids any marketing effort.   

Let's put this in "people terms:"  Recruiting (marketing) sources (identifies) candidates (buyers) for jobs (product). Branding helps convert (sales) those candidates into loyal employees (buyers), advocates, and even cements evangelists out of those who "buy" into the brand (think employee referral programs). The process to make this happen isn't something you stumble upon, it isn't "figured out" with time, anecdotal information or casual conversation; there's a complex and set strategy that's needed to make this work.    

Recruiting, while challenging, is essentially tactical marketing and while LinkedIn's Talent Connect clearly demonstrated that our industry is beginning to really understand the value in branding, we're not there yet.  Recruiters are ill-equipped and unprepared to manage this branding effort.  

2)  There's currently no "publishing workflow" - it's "post and pray" all over again, except this time with branding.  Had LinkedIn created an approval process, whereby recruiters could create a "draft status" that administrators could then approve, that would actually be a pretty great product enhancement.  Unfortunately, that's not what happened and from the conversations I had with members of LinkedIn's team at Talent Connect, it's not currently on the roadmap.  While I'm unclear if the LinkedIn Recruiter seat makes the 'seated' recruiter a full administrator of the career tab/page, it was explained that they would have publishing rights as an administrator.  Which means when they click "update," it's live and in living color, for all company followers to see.  

3)  It's difficult enough for the branding team to learn how to maintain a cohesive "unified voice and brand tone," much less get large recruiting & staffing teams all in sync.  Unless Recruiter-initiated updates show as the individual recruiter and not the Company?  This will likely add to that difficulty rather than relieve it, and could create a nightmare for larger enterprises.  When I spoke with a LinkedIn representative about this, I was told the expectation was that companies would benefit from the increased engagement and it would be their responsibility to educate/police the use of this feature. 

Well sure it is.... but that's not something that happens overnight, or by pulling together a simple 2 hour training session. For a company that so closely monitors and protects their own brand, this seeming lack of awareness/understanding of the potential ramifications this particular product enhancement could cause is a little surprising to me.  Hopefully there's more clarification on this new functionality from the company forthcoming, and a product update soon after that would allow for a 'checks & balances' system while we undertake the process of educating sourcers & recruiters on the intricacies of brand messaging & content marketing. 

Until then?  I'd recommend that HR, talent attraction, and recruiting leaders implement a content marketing calendar so that "shared updates" are not done on the fly and can be crafted to fit tone & messaging prior to publishing.  Unfamiliar with what a content calendar should look like?  This can be created in excel and should cover topics, timing intervals for publishing, channels, and the actual message/links being shared.  Here's an example of a social content calendar that I have used with many a client over the years.  We used it with our Talent Attraction Social Team at AT&T, as part of a larger content management program, prior to moving to a more robust online system.  The updates shared here have already been published, so you can see how the process starts in the content calendar.  It's then reviewed by the team, tweaked and reviewed again before it's finally approved for publishing to our community. 

The feedback from those I've had the chance to chat with about this new Recruiter feature has been lukewarm at best, but perhaps we will all have a positive "ah-ha" moment once LinkedIn shares more about the enhancement's functionality, purpose and rationale behind how it's set up.  Either way, it's evidently here, so stay tuned in the coming weeks as we help you with content you can use to help prepare your teams on LinkedIn's Recruiting platform to use it, should you choose to. 

Views: 1802

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on October 18, 2013 at 12:57pm

Thanks, Crystal. With respect: I do my very best to NOT do marketing: I'm here to affordably put quality butts in chairs NOW. I'll gladly use whatever materials Marketing can provide to help me with that task, but I don't care about the company's employment brand, except in so far as it affects my ability to get the people my managers need.  IMHO, much of the money spent on employment branding would be much better spent by asking recruiters, sourcers, etc. what tools and resources we need to fill our current openings, and proceed accordingly.

Finally, though in the real world appearances and showmanship often trump reality, effort would probably be better toward BEING a better place to work than PRETENDING and MARKETING yourself as one.





Comment by Crystal Miller on October 20, 2013 at 4:30pm

Keith respectfully, if you are a recruiter, you are marketing.  If you're doing your best not to, then you're not fully doing the job you've been tasked to do (again, if you are a recruiter) or I'd submit you don't quite understand the function of marketing. 

Marketing is not putting up pretense or smokescreen, or at least, it is not supposed to be.  There is no reason that you have to "put on a show" that is disingenuous from your company's reality.  "Marketing" is the process of creating, communicating and delivering value to customers.  Branding is the process of creating the communication around the value the organization can deliver to employees.  Recruiting communicates and helps deliver that message to candidates that HR and the Business delivers upon once a candidate becomes an employee. 

If you're not marketing, you're not doing it right. 


Comment by Matt Charney on October 21, 2013 at 10:08am

My two cents.

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on October 21, 2013 at 2:33pm

Thanks, Crystal and Matt: .

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Marketing- Marketing is the process of creating, communicating and delivering value to customers.


I do not do this- I quickly and affordably put quality butts in chairs. I do not care what someone thinks or feels about the company- I only care if they can do- and are open for- the job I have to offer them. If they can do the job but aren't able to do the job now, or aren't interested in the job, I ask them who they know who is interested and able to do the job. I have no desire to build a long-term relationship with someone can't serve my short-term recruiting needs. I (and many of my colleagues) live in an "I'll be gone, you'll be gone- let's do the deal world", re having recruited for over 200 different types of positions over the years. If an organization has the bandwidth, money, resources, and will to devote time to creating a strategic pipeline many months in or years in advance to smooth out hiring fluctuations and behave more strategically and less reactively, I actually think THIS IS A VERY GOOD AND SENSIBLE IDEA. However:

1) Most companies don't have the bandwidth, money, other resources, or will to do this, and  

2) Don't expect the same people who have to fill jobs NOW also be responsible for creating, filling, and maintaining a long-term pipeline. I would LOVE to have a recruiting job where I'm paid to reach out to form relationships with people who may or may not be interested in a job with us for 3, 6, 12, or more months, but it hasn't happened yet. 


Fundamentally, I believe what you've described is good in an ideal recruiting world of unlimited resources, buy-ins, and timeframes, but I (and the great majority of my fellow recruiters) don't work in a world like that.






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