Are You Really Recruiting Socially?

My first tools in recruitment were a phone and a rolodex. I used them a lot but never said that I was telephone recruiting. My first MD had previously invested in a fax machine but regarded it as the devils own work come to wreck the recruitment industry so always discouraged us from using it. If anyone did they never said they were fax recruiting. Some candidates would put their CVs in an envelope with a handwritten covering letter and post it to us, clients would similarly send job description through the post, and some recruiters would also mailshot their clients with a selection of CVs. If placements occurred no-one called it postal recruiting.

But then the internet came and changed everything. We had emails, websites and job boards and were now internet recruiters or e-recruiters – because this was different but also a distraction. Funnily enough this approach is now just called recruitment, in fact it’s what most people would now refer to as ‘traditional recruitment’.

And then we got social.

Now the digital platforms would have us believe everyone is doing it. The latest Jobvite survey (an online survey completed by 1,855 recruiters and HR professionals) found 93% of recruiters using or planning to use social to support their efforts. But is this right? The recent employer perspectives survey from UKCES (drawn from 18,000 interviews with employers) found only 7% citing social as a recruitment channel. Whilst recruiters may not be well represented in this report, SMEs and smaller businesses – employers of around half UK employees, and unlikely to have specialist recruiters to complete online surveys – are.

So are we really doing that much social recruiting?

Well it depends on what you call social. Looking at the Jobvite results then their 93% only stands up if you regard LinkedIn as a social network…


Some might see it this way, but I don’t. It’s not a social channel but a content publishing platform. A database. And look at how these recruiters use LinkedIn…

Makes it about as social a a CV database – which I’m sure no-one would ever really call a social platform. Searching, tracking and vetting aren’t social. More talking less stalking required.

If we take away LinkedIn then recruiters don’t look quite as social as the 93% figure would have us believe. But how successful are the networks for hiring?

So LinkedIn gets results, as any database of more than 300 million people should. Not so good for Facebook and Twitter though…maybe it’s because of the way recruiters use them?

Showcasing and posting, instead of engaging and relationship building. At least there are mentions of referrals – as there should be given they still provide a large number of hires, particularly in the US – but then with enterprise social networks like Hollaroo there are possibly more effective ways to manage them.

Social recruiting is recruiting. Social networks can enable you to recruit well and more effectively. The bedrock of effective recruitment will always be understanding why you need someone new, what they will be doing, why you need to look externally, what exactly you have to offer the right person, whether the person you want will be happy with what you have to offer them, and lots more.

And once you know that then it will be about having the right conversations with the right people at the right time about the right things. Social should be enabling these to happen.

Everything else is just broadcast and advertising. Not very social.

Social Recruiting…What’s in a Name?

Last week I took part in the latest episode of Voice America’s internet radio show HR Trends with Game-Changers Radio. I was joined by Will Staney from SAP in the US and fellow UK based social recruiting commentator and trainer Katrina Collier.

You can listen to the show by clicking on this image…

HR Trends with Game Changers Radio
It was an interesting conversation. I’ve been talking about the use of social media within the recruitment process for a few years now but here I was addressing an audience who may not have much knowledge of it. It’s often easy in the day to day Twitter echo chamber to assume that everyone knows this stuff, but even our host had checked out what Wikipedia had to say about the subject.

At the very end we had to offer a prediction on what we would say in 5 years time about social recruiting – would we still be talking about it or would we have shelved the concept in favour of a return to traditional recruiting.

Except, of course, traditional recruiting would probably mean advertising on job boards (or their 2020 equivalent) and searching CV databases – two things that 15 years ago were the future and were never expected to replace the phone, rolodex, fax and print media.

As a society we often get hung up on new technologies and try to see them as fads and fashions. Something that’s new unsettles us, makes us feel that we have to adapt to something out of our comfort zone – something that other people will do better than us and therefore may be more successful at. Which is why we focus on the methods and not the outcomes – hence social recruiting becomes about Twitter and Facebook and not recruiting. As I’ve said before, we no longer talk about internet recruitment or telephone recruitment.

Here are a few of the points I made:

  • Social recruiting is about the recruiting. It starts with a hiring need and a properly scoped job description. If you don’t get the recruitment process right then whichever platform you use will be immaterial.
  • Or put another way, if your recruiting processes suck they’ll suck louder and harder on social channels (I didn’t quite word it that way on the show)
  • It’s not about volume, be it noise or the amount of words, but about having the right conversation at the right time in the right place.
  • Put yourself in the job seekers’ shoes and ask why and how they are using those channels, and why they would reach out to you
  • You won’t successfully recruit someone through social channels if you’re not a social business. It’s not a trick to try out, it’s a window and spotlight on your culture.
  • Content should be about telling your story and giving people a compelling reason to want to be part of it. No-one is interested in how wonderful you think you are, nor how many awards you’ve won, unless said awards give a clear indication of the employee experience they can expect if they join you.
  • Manage everyone’s expectations as to what they can expect from the hiring process. If they are using public social channels to find you then they will almost certainly also use them to let everyone know how bad their experience was.
  • LinkedIn is not a social media channel. It’s a content sharing platform. Use it that way instead of as a direct access mechanism to someone you don’t know.

Katrina and Will said lots of interesting things too so make sure you listen to the show – you can even download it from iTunes and listen to it on your way to work!