Why Social Recruiting is more about Implementation than Ideas

I had a very interesting couple of days at #truLondon this week. Over 170 recruiters, technologists and marketeers descended on the City Hotel in London to argue, discuss, debate and chat over 50 tracks on topics such as the Death of the CV (a very popular and hotly debated discussion), the Future of Recruitment and Pinterest(of all things!). There's tons of content out there about the tracks and debates so rather than re-hash that, I want to share one of the many off-track discussions I had instead.

Big companies, small companies, agencies with offices all of the globe and self-employed "work from home" recruiters are pretty much agreed that social media is impacting their business and should not be ignored. Companies like Deloitte, IBM, Unilever and the BBC all spoke at truLondon about their various challenges in "implementing" social, and I had quite a few one-on-ones with recruiters, IT Directors, Marketing Heads etc about this same issue. It turns out that ideas are not unique. I have blogged extensively on different ways that recruiters can use social and there is a whole global community of brilliant people out there doing the same. No longer is the question "What should I do?", it seems we have moved on to the often more important question of "How can I implement this?"

The challenge that I kept hearing over the last couple of days seems to be:

  1. How do I convince the business owners/ directors/ board to support this in terms of time, investment and risk
  2. How do I then convince the actual recruiters and other various parties in my business to participate?

Take the example of re-branding your recruiter's LinkedIn profiles to be "on message", "on brand" and consistent across the business. Simple enough, obviously important when you think about it but if you email a team of 20 recruiters telling them what to do and how to do it, chances are only 3 or 4 of them will actually do it. The true challenge of implementing social into the mix is successfully motivating, inspiring and facilitating it's adoption by the front line recruiters and HR professionals in your business. That is not easy!

First off, it takes time.Not just a few weeks or even a few months - this often takes a couple of years to fully implement.

Secondly, you need to identify champions within your business who will lead by example and influence their colleagues.

Thirdly, the business needs to fully support it and celebrate its adoption in a very visible way.

For larger businesses it might be best to start with a smaller group of your recruiters, perhaps one country or one division. Make that work and then demonstrate its impact to the rest of the business. Real results can be a powerful motivator for your colleagues.

For smaller businesses try starting with one person, a recruiter who is passionate about this. Support their adoption of social and try to measure how that impacts their results. Success has a funny way of spreading.

To me there are three aspects to Social for recruiters:

  1. It's a method of communication. You give your recruiters access to an email and a phone. You need to let them communicate with people through IM, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Skype etc. Did you fear email when it arrived? Probably. Would you ever go back? Probably not.
  2. It's a database of candidates. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc all house biographical data on people whom you probably want to talk to.  Teach your recruiters how to search in these places.
  3. It's Marketing, on steroids. Want people to know you're hiring? Want people to have a positive impression of your business? Social Media is an enormously powerful way of marketing to niches. You can get your message in front of the perfect people, bypassing those whom you're not interested in (and who probably won't be interested in you), and do so at a much lower cost than traditional mass-marketing mediums (TV, Print media, etc).
Get your recruiters thinking about these three simple aspects of social recruiting and they'll begin to see that it need not be so scary or intrusive. It's just a communication evolution. Your recruiters and your boss are interested in WIIFM (What's In It For Me?). You'll need to demonstrate a return to the business that is quantifiable, and tie social recruiting to success (hires, placements, bonuses, commission) for your front line recruiters. It will take training, coaching, evangelism, participation and patience, but it pays off. Trust me.

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