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Growing Your Staffing Agency's Social Network

Back to basics. Tools like employment agency software and mobile devices are great, but top-notch staffing still relies on word-of-mouth more than anything else. And great word-of-mouth only happens when there are a lot of mouths willing to pass on information – a social network, in other words.

The #1 job of a staffing professional, then, is expanding his or her professional social network. That’s why it’s tough for rookies to get started in the industry – they simply haven’t had the time to build up a group of eyes and ears (and mouths) that can supply them with good clients and candidates. But veteran staffing professionals don’t have it easy. The ones I know are always thinking about ways to expand and better utilize their social networks.

A few tips on growing your social network, then, from this veteran staffing guy:

  • Social media, social media, social media.If you haven’t started using it, start now. If you started but didn’t get anywhere with it, start again – and maybe find some online tutorials or get a social media savvy youngster to show you the ropes.A brief story says it all: A professional acquaintance (who is not in the staffing industry) checks his LinkedIn account about once per day. He somehow got “linked in” with a staffing pro – “I think I met her at a networking event,” he says – and notices her posts every week or so. They are nothing special – “Looking for a marketing professional with experience in the medical device industry,” for instance – and he’s never responded to any of them. But he knows a lot of people who are looking for work, and he’s ready to throw her a name if something clicks.Now multiply his eyes, ears, and mouth (and keyboard) by 1000, 2000, 3000. Thirty years ago, that was a word-of-mouth network that staffing pros could only dream of.  Today it’s a reality experienced staffing pros and less experienced staffing professional who know how to use social media can both enjoy.
  • Include everyone (at first). Your unemployed college roommate. Your unemployed college roommate’s mother. Your unemployed roommate’s mother’s financial adviser. All you need is their permission. Staffing is like sales: you just never know where that next great lead is going to come from, so your job is to maximize your contacts and your reach.  You never know who will connect you to your next great candidate so treat everyone equal.
  • Intelligently prune your list. Think like a banker with no money to lose. Start out by lending money – your contact information – to everyone. Some will ignore it, some will abuse it, but most will use it properly – or at least have it in the back of their minds, like my acquaintance above. Gradually cut out those who abuse it, cultivate those who prove to be good contacts, and leave the rest alone. Over time, you’ll build a network of great “borrowers” who give you a good return on your “investment” of time.

Implement these three ideas as you build your social network and soon you will find more quality candidates and clients dropping in your lap.  It takes some work to get your social networks humming but every hour you put into it will pay dividends over time.

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Comment by Shashank Shekhar on January 5, 2012 at 7:47pm

Social recruiting is such a buzz these days. However, I have always wondered if getting the word out to more and more people via the online social networks is really beneficial and cost effective way to recruit.

Yes, it increases the number of people finding out about the position, but the way I look at it, the more people that see the recruiting message, the more the number of resumes coming in for a job position. Doesn't that translate to higher expense of time and money for companies, hiring managers to sort out the meaningful resumes from the bulk? After all indiscriminate broadcasting of job opportunities without increasing the odds of finding the right candidate is only going to increase the volume of resumes not their quality.

There is a better way to utilize the social networks when it comes to searching for talent and I believe the real power of social recruiting will be unleashed only when the broadcasting is not indiscriminate and instead is done selectively.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 5, 2012 at 11:47pm
I totally agree shashank. This type of social networking seems to me like standing in a crowded airport with a megaphone screaming, "hey, I have a job for a manager". But, Tim sells software so maybe he has a different take on it than recruiters who are working a desk.
Comment by Jerry Albright on January 6, 2012 at 9:50am

"Top-notch staffing still relies on word-of-mouth more than anything else........The #1 job of a staffing professional, then, is expanding his or her professional social network"

Absolutely have to disagree here. The NUMBER ONE job of a recruiter is to make PRESENTATIONS. Hoping that by simply "getting the word out" that someone will know someone who knows someone - is just that:  Hope.  HOPE kills a recruiter.  Hope is nothing I personally bank on - and is certainly not a strategy in my day to day work.

I also find you description of whom to include in your network rather interesting - Your unemployed college roommate. Your unemployed college roommate’s mother. Your unemployed roommate’s mother’s financial adviser - I'm going to disagree with this too.  While I make no distinction between employed/unemployed overall - I do not see this as the way to build your network/database/talent community - whatever you call it.

Perhaps a giant list of unemployed people provides for far less rejection - but that is no way to get ahead in the recruiting world.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 6, 2012 at 10:37am
The other problem I have with this post. "candidates and clients will fall in your lap".

Not in my three decades of being a recruiter have clients and candidates ever fallen in my lap. It takes hard work, personal contact, producing results consistently that result in good hires to develop clients. Blasting out tweets and posts on twitter, Facebook etc is not going to make all these clients fall in your lab. Nor will any kind of recruiting software.

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