Welcome to the Recruitment Content War

Recruitment Content WarOn #talentnet they raised the issue that since everything on Twitter is public, there's no way for a recruiter to gain any sort of competitive advantage.

Take LinkedIn or a job board, for example. On LinkedIn, you pay to get access to everyone's profiles, otherwise your network is limited to who you know. On a job board, you pay extra to get your job posting at the top of the search results, or you pay extra to get access to a massive database of (old) resumes.

The idea here is that recruiters at bigger companies have always had ways to get a competitive advantage over everyone else -- but the tables can easily turn thanks to social media/networking.

Getting a job posting in front of people's eyes no longer requires any money whatsoever. With a lot of people being driven off job boards and into the "social" world, it gives companies that may not be able to afford $500 job postings the opportunity to advertise their jobs to thousands of followers/friends/connections.

Not to mention the thousands of niche boards with free postings -- and even LinkedIn has free postings on groups now. Craigslist even offers free postings in certain areas. The aggregator sites like SimplyHired and Indeed will pick your postings right off your careers site for free, too.

So if the ability to get job postings in front of people has, to an extent, become equal among all companies, and with social networking becoming more and more a completely public model, how is a Microsoft recruiter supposed to have an advantage over the thousands of small tech companies getting on these networks and heavily recruiting from them?

The answer is branding, and the way that branding is best conveyed online is through great content (videos, blogs, tweets, slideshows, webinars, etc.).

With the playing field leveled, a company like nGenera, which already hires a lot of its staff from social networks like Facebook, can certainly compete by attracting talent away from juggernauts like Oracle.

It's all up to whether they can put the time into consistently presenting great content to its audience. Their Twitter page is great, but it won't be enough if they seriously want to leverage the medium to truly have a competitive advantage.

After all, realistically speaking here, the content is going to have to rock your brain to get you in love with the company. The more personal, the more effective the content will be. With so many large companies being devoid of ANY content though, it won't be too hard to get in on the war.

Think about it though: of all the companies you know of, which are you thinking "Man, I'd love to work there." For me, it's only the companies that have convinced me with some great content online. Hyatt convinces me every day on their Twitter page -- they brand the company well, and retweet positive employee feedback all the time. Microsoft has convinced me time and time again. And I'd even work for the New York City Department of Education in a heartbeat after witnessing that strong branding.

There was a company that approached me with a job on Twitter recently, and I had to turn it down for one simple reason: I didn't know why I should work for them. There was no content on their site or Twitter feed to convince me to change my entire life right now.

Sure, they had made a personal connection with me for months via Twitter -- but there was never any content that branded their company as a growing leader in the market, as a friendly work environment, as a place where I could grow within a year.

We are in a content war online that is going to be brutally painful for companies that ignore it. There was a post on RecruitingBlogs about the uselessness of an employment brand, but if you don't have one driving your content during this war, your competitor just may attract your entire talent pool before you have a chance to convince them to come to you.

I won't be surprised when the position of "Social Media Content Producer" becomes a common title in HR departments across the country. Unless you have someone dedicated full time to working with your marketing and communications departments to develop great content on a consistent, near-daily basis, you won't be able to compete.

And don't just throw the responsibility on a recruiter -- you kind of need them to recruit, remember?

If you don't believe me, just look at Hyatt, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Ernst & Young, and on and on. What are they doing every day? Churning out awesome, well-branded content that hooks you into their organization and plants a seed in the back of your mind for when you're ready to move on.

What do you think the companies already competing against each other in the content war are thinking? Here's my guess: "Wow, we need to make even BETTER content and MORE of it." It's going to get intense, folks, and you better stop being so reactive and get in there while there's a chance to dominate.

And the longer larger companies stay out of social media, the more time smaller companies will have to gain followers to engage with their content and become convinced to work for them.

Have I freaked you out enough yet? Content will forever be king, and tomorrow morning is an excellent time to bring up to your hiring manager the importance of gaining a competitive advantage in the content war already raging online.

Views: 189

Comment by Ann Fowler on May 1, 2009 at 9:53am
Loved this!
Comment by bill josephson on May 1, 2009 at 9:55am
If you're going to survive as a 3rd party Recruiter you're going to have to work opposite of the way your clients do, or you just end up competing for the same online talent they do trying to beat them by an hour. And even if you do, they won't be all that happy with you. They want candidates they couldn't readily access on their own.

I find client companies are shocked that a recruiter actually finds them "passive candidates." It's why I don't recruit/network over the Internet. Candidates I seek aren't there, and the companies are already there.

Comment by MDub on May 1, 2009 at 10:13am
Great article on a leading concept. Recruiting succeeds on a dialogue that builds relationships w/ an enticing message, life changes, and access to quality candidates w/ Godspeed; it doesn't matter if you tweet, call them, meet them on the plane, etc.
Comment by Louis Bina on May 1, 2009 at 12:13pm
Interesting article. Our company has recently realized the importance of developing a strong, consistent brand via social media. The first 40-ish minutes of this video (from the Twin Cities Social...
Comment by Brian Meeks on May 4, 2010 at 1:22pm
I enjoyed the article.


I find it impossible to believe that with 500,000,000 people on Facebook, and millions on Twitter, and Linkedin, that the the 'passive candidates' you have recruited aren't using these sites. The fact that you aren't finding them on the internet doesn't mean they aren't there.

You may be successful without using the internet. That is fine. Can you tell us how much more successful you are, compared to an equal time of recruiting and networking online? How much time did you spend on your online networking, compared to your current method? Perhaps when you tried it, you just didn't do a very good job. I am assuming that you have tried and failed, and not just claiming that your method is better, without having anything to compare it to.

I personally have tried networking using social media and failed miserably, that is, until I was given some good resources for improving how my methodology. Put simply, I was doing it wrong. Now I am smarter.

Comment by bill josephson on May 4, 2010 at 1:40pm
Brian, I don't Internet search for candidates at all. What I require is a good company with a position someone would want and a process with that company that works--specially a seriousness/urgency to hire.

From there it's going to the companies the person exists at networking to find the qualified people. Depending on the company size I can source and network through in a day or two talking to fare more people/prospects than if I messed around getting tangled up on the web. And being on the computer can be rather depressing.
Comment by Joshua Letourneau on May 5, 2010 at 11:25am
The key is our ability to recruit - you know, like really "recruit" someone. All the other stuff is noise, so ultimately, who cares if we all have access to the same candidates online? It's the reason why Sourcing has become commoditized (it's not gone, it's just done for half of what it used to cost pre-2009; hence my term "commoditized"). Evidence: Sourcers have hopped onto Social Media and "Social Recruiting", as if "Social Recruiting" is different than "Recruiting" itself. It's the ultimate proxy for picking up the phone; the ultimate Red-Herring.

I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings here (and I don't know how the following statement could anyway), but the true measure of a Recruiter is their ability to "recruit", not how many tweets they can push out or the 'size of their database'. Our competitive advantage lies in our ability to connect on a human level, to identify the primary drivers of the candidate, to subtly persuade, to build their trust among an ever-growing community of Talent Acquisition Pros' who have been taught to think that recruiting has come down to a game of 140-char pre-screens. And you know what? It's easier than ever because the average Recruiter doesn't meet the most minimal of candidate expectations anymore. Just show a little genuine sincerity and you're already head & shoulders above the average these days . . . the only difference is that Candidates' are more resilient to our message because they're bombarded by signal-less "white noise". It takes more touches and effort to cut through the landfill.

Recommit to the fundamentals, Everybody - for a baseball analogy, it doesn't matter if you can throw a 100-mph fastball if you can't get the ball over the plate.


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