Why Social Recruiting needs to fail

I was going through some old folders on my laptop the other day and I happened to come across my very first digital recruitment media plan which I wrote for a client way back in 1999. Even though a lot has
happened in the last 11 years I still remember this particular project
fondly. This might seem quite strange when I tell you that it was an
abject failure from both mine and the client's point of view!

The client needed to recruit four permanent software engineers and was keen to try something a bit different. The Internet seemed the perfect solution and we enthusiastically recommended a campaign
microsite and online "traffic driving campaign". After five weeks the
client had received two applications both of which were unsuitable.

Once everyone had got past the initial and somewhat hysterical "the internet doesn't work" reaction, we were able to unpick what had gone wrong with the campaign. Rather than give up on digital the client
worked with us to adapt the site and the media plan. After some
considerable effort and a bit more trial and error, results improved
and some (but not all) of the roles were filled. However more
importantly the learnings the client took from these early mistakes
went on to form the backbone of their overall online recruitment
strategy. A strategy which was to save them hundred's of thousands of
pounds over the next few years.

The reason we persevered, despite a very disappointing start, was because everyone involved realised that enormous growth of the Internet was going to change everything and the client wanted to be surfing this
wave of change.

The current situation with social recruiting is very similar. The uptake and growth of social media is off the scale but there are currently very few good case studies to show us exactly how it will
work for recruitment. I'm hoping the reason for this is that there is
more failure out there than there is success at the moment. Only by
failing a few times do you get the chance to create and refine a
strategy for long term success. Many will give up after the first set
back, history is telling us that those who stick with it may well be
reaping the benefits for years to come

Views: 195

Comment by Omowale Casselle on March 10, 2010 at 12:22am

Great post, reminds me of when the reporter interviewed Edison asking about how it felt to fail 1,000 times. Edison replied, "You miss understand. I did not fail 1,000 times. I successfully found 1,000 ways that the light bulb would not work." In aggregrate, there will be thousands of failures while social recruiting is figured out. But, once the community figures it out; the enduring benefits for both companies and candidates will be enormous..
Comment by Paul Alfred on March 10, 2010 at 7:54am
Matt, SM Networks are supposed to be additional tools used to support your effort in the Recruitment Process - I wrote a blog recently on how I utilize LinkedIn effectively (LinkedIn, Its’ Unorthodox Use Revealed! http://bit.ly/deglE7). I think SM is still in its infancy stage for recruiters to use it as a primary recruitment tool.
Comment by Katherine Moody on March 10, 2010 at 11:29am
Great post and great strategy. We just need to watch for what might be key casualties in these essential failures--leadership which might not have been all that enthusiastic about social recruiting to begin with. Explain the possibility and advantages of "failure" to them early in the process.
Comment by Samantha on March 10, 2010 at 11:30am
Awesome post and so true! I always get asked if I can showcase great examples of social media and recruitment.
Comment by Laurie Bell on March 10, 2010 at 11:34am
Great post - that is truly how we learn and grow!
Comment by Judi Wunderlich on March 10, 2010 at 11:39am
Good food for thought Matt. Since my staffing firm is only doing social recruiting, we are indeed in the midst of successes and failures, but thankfully more successes.
Comment by Alasdair Murray on March 10, 2010 at 11:48am
Someone was telling me only yesterday how their client, a recruitment consultancy, had given Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter a whirl for a few weeks but told them to only persist with Linkedin as the response from the other two was either woefully poor or inappropriate. i.e. Linkedin is, in their experience, the only one with any credibility.

I do think the whole furore with social recruiting is a bit premature, certainly in the UK at least. Other methods don’t suddenly drop by the wayside. It took the web many a year to finally result in dwindling classified sections and being so hit and miss as it is at the moment (and patchily subscribed to) it will be a fair few yet before social networking sites become the place to be seen in my humble opinion.
Comment by Rob Humphrey on March 10, 2010 at 12:06pm
Yunno I have been trying to catalog actual case studies for some time..and in fact have a contest in place here http://fb.me/socialrecruiting asking folks to put their $ where their mouth is so to speak..not a lot of results yet--but a few gems. Interestingly not a single entry from a "recruitment Ad" firm...
Comment by Jonathan Goodman on March 10, 2010 at 12:09pm
I think it was Oppenheimer who said something like... An expert is defined as someone who has failed in every way possible within a very narrow field of study.

Fail fast and fail forward!
Comment by Paul Alfred on March 10, 2010 at 12:11pm
@ Rob ... I Spelt out my winning strategy in a blog I wrote last week ... Check it out ...


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