It’s a Garden Not a Grocery Store

Over the last two weeks I have used this analogy when talking to recruiters within my company that recruiting via the social networks is more like a garden and not a grocery store. It seems to have connected with them and I know there are hundreds of other analogies out there describing “social recruiting” and this one just came out of my mouth during a conversation. My point is when a recruiter is using the social networks to find candidates and engage them either in conversation or to direct source, the mindset is different than before.

This change in mindset is a challenge for me. I am used to the grocery store approach where I would go to my company resume database and search those that directly applied or to a job board database and pick out the candidates I felt were the most qualified and contact them. This is like going to the store where you know what you need and in what aisle it is located. The choice is then determined on fit, price and need. Do I go “generic” because the salary range will not allow me to select the name brand? What store seems to carry the best produce that is fresh?

Now, with social recruiting, the mindset feels more like planting a garden. I am doing research on where should I connect with people, setting a strategy with goals that need to be very flexible and seeing where I might want to go for future needs. Unlike the grocery store, the people I am connecting with are not necessarily looking for a new position and will most likely wither away if I over fertilize them with job opportunities.

There are hundreds, maybe a thousand posts on what a recruiter should do in the social network space – listen, engage, ask questions then approach. I do not disagree with this approach, but the recruiter mindset changes in this environment. There is rarely a quick hit or a one and done phone call, but more of a chain of connections through one or multiple networks. It is not a mindset of post and pray or wait and see but going out, seeking and being vulnerable. It is a mindset that I had when I first started recruiting and in order to find candidates I had to cold call, develop leads and relationships and attend networking events in person.

To me we have come full circle with our transparency, engagement, social networks and connecting. The key difference now is that it is so much easier than digging through phone books, association directory books and cold calling into companies. Now I can “lurk”, listen, perform far better research and searches before making the decision to contact. I can follow someone and determine if they really are a guru, expert, rock star or ninja (all terms I dislike) and then decide whether to contact or hit the unfollow button.

As you conduct your searches and social recruiting tactics remember the mindset is different – it’s not a store but a garden. By changing the mindset you can move your company forward.



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4 responses to “It’s a Garden Not a Grocery Store

  1. Thanks for you thoughts on this matter. I will definitely be sharing this with recruiters within our company.

  2. Pete Radloff

    Mark, this is a relevant and poignant topic. It’s not about the picking of the low hanging fruit anymore (to stay with the grocery theme!), but more about cultivating the talent that you want to grow your candidate base from. Really well put.

    I immediately passed this along to my team.

  3. Andrea and Pete,

    Thank you for the comments and glad to offer help through my blog to your teams.



  4. Mark,
    Perfect analogy and it better justifies my social recruiting efforts. Not luck. EFFORTS. And, it pays off at the “check out stand.” Thanks for sharing.

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