I had a great time at the Recruiting Unconference (trulondon) last Thursday…lots of interesting and thought-provoking debate and information. Over the next few blog posts I am going to write about some things that have had me thinking.
A key track for me was the one on Social Media…I have certainly tried to embrace LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogging over the last year or so and talk passionately to candidates about the need for them to get connected and get in the conversation. I was keen to learn more…
Track host Matt Alder started by asking each group member what social media they used and why…and four things immediately stood out for me:
Hardly any recruiters seemed to use any Social Media other than LinkedIn
Those that use LinkedIn seem to regard it as a database, a source of names to headhunt, and a medium to advertise jobs
Most recruitment companies seem to regard a consultant’s LinkedIn connections as owned by the company not the consultant
The only interest in Twitter seemed to be as a medium to advertise jobs
Clearly there are a lot of recruiters in the UK who haven’t yet got Social Media. There was little talk of developing networks or communities, of engaging candidates and clients in groups. It seemed depressingly familiar, just another medium for finding names to headhunt and for advertising roles. I’m not saying that there aren’t recruiters who provide a service doing just that, but why do we have this amazing new medium which opens up all sorts of possibilities, can really transform the way we work and interact, enables us to deliver some real value for candidates and clients…and then just try and find ways of using it to do the same old, same old…
I’m going to share some of my thoughts about LinkedIn here…Twitter will get its own post, hopefully soon!
On the question of ownership, I firmly believe that my contacts are mine…and I say that having been employee and employer within the industry. I appreciate that I have made contact with people whilst in employment, but it is how I have worked and interacted with that network that has provided fees and therefore revenue for the business. I know that there was a court case involving Hays last year which they won, but I believe in that case that the employee in question was sending invitations to clients that he hadn’t met or worked with, whilst at the same time setting up in competition. Sorry, but that’s unethical. Also when it was heard, use of Social Media as a business tool was still fairly embryonic.
I have met virtually all my contacts; those that I haven’t met I do have a working relationship with, and would have spoken to them at length on the phone (or social media). I have never invited (nor accepted an invitation from) anyone that I have not had interaction with. I can share information with them through status updates, and will call or send messages on a regular basis especially acknowledging when they have a relevant change to their status. Used properly it provides a great platform from which to start building a network/community (Twitter can help further develop this)
My LI network has delivered fees, not just for me but also for colleagues…and I am transparent with the network, giving them visibility of my Twitter feed, and this blog, on my LinkedIn profile.
Someone on the track, who owned a small IT recruitment business, legitimately raised the fear that a consultant leaving and taking his LI connections was taking business away…and Paul Harrison (Carve Consulting) who co-hosted the track made a great point when he said that the company may lose someone’s contacts, but then they would hire in someone who would bring with them a whole new set of contacts.
My personal view is that the attempt to protect is old, sales led recruitment thinking and does not take into account the possibilities opened up by social media. Recruiters, in future, will be hired because of their network…not just who they know, but how they engage with the network, what information and knowledge they build, what business opportunities the network offers. There’s an onus on the recruiter to behave ethically and professionally if they want flexibility and trust from their employers…certainly not adding connections that are not technically part of their network, and with whom they have had no personal interaction, particularly if their intentions are to leave soon.
I did make the point on Thursday that in my opinion recruiters probably would not join a business that made them leave their contacts when they left…I certainly wouldn’t sign a contract that effectively said ‘we want you for your contacts, and when it’s time for you to leave, we’ll keep the contacts, thanks’
Social Media policy will soon be an extremely important criteria for candidates to consider when assessing a company (actually, why isn’t it now?)… and a legitimate question for the interviewee to ask. In fact as recruiters I think we should be finding out what the policy is when we take a brief.
I can certainly see a time soon when businesses will be rejected if their policies are not forward thinking, encouraging, empowering and trusting.