Tag Archives: social recruiting

Recruiting – It Has (almost) Come Full Circle

The last four years has brought on a change within the recruitment industry – corporate and third party – that at the minimum has sparked conversation around brand, candidate experience, how candidates are sourced or how they find open positions. Several articles have been posted stating how much recruiting has changed and that certain aspects of it will fade away or (gasp) are already dead. To me, it appears to have come full circle – almost.

During the pre-internet/applicant tracking (ATS) timeframe the strategy to find top talent included:

  • targeted campaigns in print advertising with select outlets that would drive the right talent to mail or fax in a resume to the organization
  • partnerships with schools and career service centers for the intern and entry level roles that included campus visits, presentations, interview days, meetings with professors and campus groups
  • research of key professional associations, industry conferences, and either attending events or finding a way to receive a directory of members
  • effective employee referral programs

These were typically done through manual processes, phone calls, letters and monotonous work of opening each paper resume and quickly scanning for fit. I remember spending hours with hiring managers developing recruitment strategies around finding the right talent to apply to our print ads in various niche magazines and newspapers. We did not want hundreds of people to apply because that meant a large amount of work going through the responses.

When the internet and ATS usage gained speed and exploded in the late ’90’s the strategy changed a little but the core points above were still a strong foundation within recruitment plans. With the advent of key word search (boolean) on job boards and in ATS’s the mindset moved from ensuring the right talent applied to bring in as many as possible because maybe our methods before missed some really good talent. These systems could hold thousands of resumes and in time millions. Recruiters would brag to hiring managers that XX number of candidates applied to a posting and that number was typically in the hundreds. They would then add to their bragging that due to the internet or ATS technology they could whittle down the number to a select few and screen them for the role.

The use of the internet and ATS tools built a wall between the recruiter and the applicant. No longer was a fax number, mailing address or email address contained in postings. They were replaced with web site addresses or generic email addresses and phrases like “no phone calls please” or “no faxed or paper resumes accepted”. Recruiters (mostly corporate) were now behind a curtain that only privileged candidates who were contacted would be able to see behind it.

However, as the internet evolved and it moved from one-way communication to two way (web 2.0) recruiters were being exposed via tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google searches, or other on-line communities. Those that started in recruiting behind the curtain realized they needed to gain certain skills or use the skills they learned during college in social media settings to effectively communicate with candidates. The recruiters that started pre-internet spouted that the changes were not silver bullets but just another communication tool and recruiting is still the same thing as it was 15, 20, or 25 years ago.

I think it has evolved and is similar but a recruiter can be much more effective than pre-internet. The same foundation remains as my bullet points above. Take those points in today’s terms:

  • develop an employment branding campaign that will attract the right talent to your company – this could include social media, job boards, niche industry sites, video, mobile and believe it or not – print
  • university relations and campus programs that can now be managed through on-line tools directly with the school or through other tools that have significantly reduced the workload on building those partnerships but increasing the effectiveness of on-site visits
  • research of specific industry associations, contact lists and networking events can now be done in minutes instead of hours or days
  • automated employee referral campaigns making it easier for tracking, reporting and payments/recognition

There is a mantra I use in managing recruiters today that I know grates their nerves because it goes against the mindset of the “post and pray” days between 1999 – 2008. Less resumes, less interviews, more offers. That is how recruiting has almost come full circle. In 1995 I did not want 200 resumes mailed or faxed to me and today I do not want 200 resumes submitted to a non-high volume role. I want to make sure the role is marketed to the right candidate pool, enticing enough to have them apply and given today’s tools I can quickly and effectively identify top talent through the use of various internet resources. In addition, I want top talent to find me and connect with me about opportunities within my organization, no more curtain to stand behind.

As recruiters we have always adapted to new technologies and in some cases blown out the use of a tool that was not considered as it’s original intent. When developing a recruitment plan are you relying on spray and pray that will create a habit of sit and wait recruiting, or is it an active program that drives the right talent to your organization and a go out and seek mindset? I believe the latter will move your organization forward.

I welcome your thoughts.

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Scores, Lists and Influence

The #TNL Twitter chat on Wednesday (4/27) was spirited, educational and great humor thrown in here and there. Craig Fisher invited Megan Berry from Klout to help educate the recruiting and HR community about Klout and what the numbers could mean in our space. The questions were flying at Megan and, in my opinion, she did an excellent job responding with valuable information in a quick manner. That had to be tough considering she had on average 120 characters to use [after the hashtag and Twitter handle]. It was interesting to see the spectrum of attitudes, beliefs, strong opinions and snarkiness towards the Klout numbers and other sites that try to show someone’s influence in the social media sphere.

One of the hottest questions/topics was around if people should put their Klout score on a resume, or submit it when trying to land a project or business for consulting work. The responses ranged from suggesting that someone with a high score is spending too much time in social media and not enough time working to if you are going for a social media role then it should probably be listed. An example was given by @2morrowknight losing an account because his Klout score was not high enough in the customer’s eyes – I was a little shocked because his score is in the upper 70’s and he has over 180,000 followers on Twitter (in addition he has blogs, started on-line communities and works for a well known publication) and is clearly influential in the social media sphere.

After his comment the question “What is a good score?” came up a few times in the stream. Thankfully no one said “it depends” (see my previous post) but the answers ranged from the sarcastic to the serious. Some posted they could care less, some almost bragging how high their score was and others admitting their scores were low with explanations on why. As the conversation continued it became clear that it is all subjective and what may be considered high on one site may be low on another. Someone may be influential to one group but have absolutely no influence within another. An example was given showing that someone who had a higher Klout score than a peer did not put much faith into it because the peer is considered to be much more influential. Here is the link to the example: influence is not a number

Is influence getting people to take action, buy a product or change their opinion or approach? Sure, but does a score or being on a list guarantee your level of influence? Should we only listen to those who have the high scores and are regularly on “influencers lists”?

In my opinion, no. Take them for what they are – the measurement of on-line activity. I commented during the chat that my score is around 40 but fluctuates with my activity and that I am a “casual” social media participant. I average two to three tweets a day, one or two blog posts a quarter and it is nice to see people respond to my work in ways that may never be measured by Klout or other sites. I use social media to professionally network, to educate myself on trending topics within recruiting and HR or to seek advice. I also use the tools to interact with people I may never meet in person but share common interests.

The Talent Net Live conferences started with my one tweet response to @DorothyBeach and Craig has taken the event and run with it. I am not trying to boast here but trying to drive a point home. If I had never responded to Dorothy’s tweet and included Craig and others we would have never experienced these great events. That moment will never show up in any scores, lists or influencer rankings and I am happy it will not.

By using the tools to fit my needs and to stay focused on the task at hand I can ignore the scores and lists and take away what is important for me to do my job. By doing so I can move an organization forward.

I welcome your thoughts.

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“It’s My Priority”

Last month I was honored to be on a panel for CTHRA discussing How Does Social Media Impact Human Resources? in Denver, Co. I arrived the night before and stayed at the JW Marriott in Cherry Creek which is right across the street from Elway’s (yep that John Elway) restaurant. Since I was by myself I decided to sit at the bar and enjoy a great steak dinner and eavesdrop on the various conversations going on around me.

A gentleman across the bar from me was talking to two of his (I’m guessing co-workers) in a loud enough voice for most everyone to hear him. He was, for the most part, bragging about some of the large deals he had landed with clients and how one client was giving him fits for backing out after they had already invested several million dollars. He was confident he could save the deal and that it was just some kind of dance that the investor was making him go through. I am not sure why he was bragging so much, but he had the confidence of a top producer and no one was questioning his claims. Then I heard one of his companions ask “How are you able to generate so much money for the firm?”

The braggart, who was now extremely focused on his mobile device, initially ignored the question. When asked again, he looked up with almost a shocked expression on his face and his response “It’s my priority! Plain and simple – it is my priority!” The companion flushed immediately and took a drink. That was it, nothing else was said. He didn’t go into how he does what he does, offer any sage advice to his peer, discuss specific techniques, or reveal which technology or tool helps him identify the best investors. “It’s my priority!”

Though I was not impressed in how he was trying to convince everyone in ear shot that he is the next Gordon Gekko, I have to admit he knows his job. He is responsible for one thing – to bring in as much cash as possible to his firm.

As a recruiter our priority is to bring in as much talent our organizations need to successfully run the business. I am sure there is more to his job – client management, positive customer experience, forms to complete – just like ours but the more I think about it the more I am convinced those are a means to an end.

The more we forget our priority the more we hurt our organizations. If we are not focused on constantly finding talent that will meet the needs of the business then we are doing a disservice to our employers. Once we commit to our priority we will move our organization forward.

I welcome your thoughts.

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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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#socialrecruiting summit – my recap

I returned from Minneapolis where Best Buy hosted the third #socialrecruiting summit at their headquarters.  My overall impression is another solid event put on by ERE with some reservations – check that – concerns for future events.

I had tough decisions all day on which concurrent sessions I should attend.  Some decisions were based on the description and some were based purely on the speaker.  The good news is that I will be able to watch the videos and based on the Twitter stream #socialrecruiting I never felt that I made the wrong choice.

As is true with all conferences the conversations between sessions and during the networking/happy hours tend to provide the most value for attending the event.  In addition to finally meeting in person Paul DeBettignies (@MNHeadhunter), Jennifer McClure (@CincyRecruiter), Launce Haun (@thelance), Kris Dunn (@Kris_Dunn), Joel Cheeseman (@cheezhead) and Glen Cathey (@BooleanBlackBlt) I met some very interesting new people.  People that are just dipping their toes into the space or maybe have been at it a while but have had limited exposure due to a variety of reasons. 

During the post summit happy hour and after making the rounds with those I already knew fairly well I did my typical move – I walked around until I found a group where I did not know anyone and introduced myself.  I met four people coming from a variety of industries and stories of the challenges they face using the social tools.  We started interviewing each other and then the brainstorming began on how to solve or change the approach to hopefully yield better results.  Thanks to John Creech, Michelle Topolinsky, Marianne Kulka and Marni Hockenberg for your friendliness, professionalism and sense of humor.

The concurrent sessions were very informative, thought provoking and well delivered.  As the day progressed it was easy to see that the speakers were borrowing comments from each other and an underlying tone was that a strategy was necessary before getting into social media.  This is very interesting because just this past November at the second summit the rally cry was go rogue!  When it comes to social media, jump in, experiment, find out what is and isn’t allowed and push the envelope in order to move your organization ahead.  That was all thrown out the window a mere six months later.

My concern is that the small to medium companies were not taken into consideration or those large organizations that do not have sizeable recruitment budgets.  The presentations I heard would be more suited for the Fortune 100 organizations or organizations that have such strong brand recognition but not sure how to approach social media.  I heard from too many attendees representing the small to medium company that what they were hearing was never achievable whether it is time, resources or funds.  Personally, I think a true “unconference” session would be to ask a small organization to come and talk about what they are doing, what are the limitations and then let the audience help them figure it out – crowd source a solution not just for the case study but for several of the attendees.

I am looking forward to reading pages of notes, watching the videos and re-reading the Twitter feed to digest the great ideas, comments and recommendations because when I do I know I will be better able to move my company forward.

Oh and never ask Paul Jacobs the New Zealander to imitate a (American) Southern accent – I think my ears are still bleeding. Good on ya Paul, Matt Alder and Glen for hanging at the bar after everyone left – the conversation was priceless.


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