It's time to take 'social recruiting' to the next level

As I was writing up a 'social media recruiting guide' for a client today, I had one of my many epiphanies:

We are finally to the point where social media can become REALLY powerful for recruitment.


Now you might be thinking, "Golly, it's been pretty powerful already hasn't it?" Yes, you just thought "Golly."

Yes and no. Yes, it's done wonders to help recruiters find talent and to help companies brand themselves as the ultimate employers of choice.

But I also say "no," because not a single HR department has taken social media to the levels that some marketing departments have in the last six months alone.

Take for example this week's social media campaign by Ford for its Ford Fiesta titled "Fiest Movement." They had 4,000 people apply to test drive the car before it hits the market and gave Ford Fiestas to the 100 finalists. They made a site with all 100 finalists' profiles, links to their Twitter feeds, blogs, etc.

And, of course, those 100 finalists are tweeting the heck out of the car and its campaign right now.

It's risky (there will be some negative comments about the car in hopes of improving it before it's released), cutting-edge and will not only be a game-changer for social media, but will allow Ford to deliver a great product after they let their customers' community come together and feel part of the company.

HR and recruiters haven't come anywhere near that kind of innovation when it comes to social media. I don't care if you've set up an event that 1,000 people showed up to using Twitter and MySpace; it's not innovative, it's the same as sending out an e-blast to a LinkedIn group. It's effective, of course, but it's not the innovation that's waiting to happen.

And guess what? It's going to happen soon.

We've reached a point with 'social recruiting' where we're ready to get innovative. For the last two years, we've really been playing catch up with the marketing departments.

"Oh, crap! We need to get on Twitter! And Facebook! And MySpace! And LinkedIn! Grab interns who know this stuff, quick!"

The freakout phase is over (even though there are thousands of companies who haven't even hit that phase yet). Anyone reading this blog, however, understands that social networks are great for finding people and recruiting them (and know how to do so), and they also know social networks allow you to brand and deliver content about what makes your company a great place to work.

But now it's time to go beyond that; it's time to be like the marketing departments that have taken social media to new heights -- heights that no one would have ever thought possible a mere three years ago.

I'm talking interactive -- and not just interactive job postings like I talked about on my last blog. I'm talking Ford Fiesta interactive -- make people a part of the company, and then hire the best.

We've seen ideas like this brewing for the last five years, such as when a software company invites a programming community to submit the best improvement to their software and the winner gets a stack of cash.

But that's still too stand-offish for social media. Look at Ford -- they gave their product away to 100 people before even releasing it and even told them to tell the world about what they think (before it's even released, it's simply unheard of).

You have to make them feel part of the company. Sure, let them develop an improved version of your software, but then let the Top 10 developers (as voted on by your customers) present their improvements to the VP of IT via Skype (or even in person). And broadcast it live so the world can see your company in action and feel more a part of it than they ever could before (programmer or not).

Or what about the viral campaigns -- how can you tie your company's recruitment into it? Imagine working for Jack in the Box and you need a new product manager. You work with the marketing department to make another viral Jack in the Box campaign where they tease that a new burger is coming -- but they need a team to come up with what it will be.

Think of it like internship 2.0: hire a team for six months who will come up with the idea for the burger, the marketing around it, etc. All the while you have the team blog about their experiences to hook not only Jack in the Box customers, but also food industry and marketing pros who might now want to work there.

It's good for the whole company -- you've got your customers hooked on a new meal, and you've hooked the job market who are paying attention every day to what it's like to work for Jack in the Box (maybe even hire someone from the team you started).

Imagine trying to get people to read the "Jack in the Box Onboarding Blog" versus having them read the blog described above. It's a different game; it's taking social media to a higher, more powerful level.

You're probably thinking "These aren't passive candidates, though..." Some of them may be, but ultimately, it'll be the passive candidates watching everything unfold and THAT'S what really counts.

You can't get mass eyeballs until the community is part of the company, and that's the lesson we're all going to learn when Ford is done with their campaign. The passives will be all over your content once it comes from the community (not just your internal community, but communities of programmers, marketers, scientists, etc. who want to work for great companies and want to know if the grass is greener somewhere else).

Sure, the economy sucks. But as Gary Vaynerchuk would probably say, if you're not putting some money into social media to absolutely CRUSH IT, you're not ready to be in the game.

These are all random, quickly thought up ideas that you can criticize all you want, but you can't disagree with the fact that social media and recruitment can go places you never imagined (and that marketing departments are imagining every day).

It's time for HR to stop being so reactive and to start being as innovative as marketing departments. It will ultimately mean a new kind of HR department that needs to be formed, but it simply needs to happen and it needs to happen fast.

We can source with social media, we can brand with social media, but it's time to focus the content on really hooking people. After all, the game isn't to convince them to buy a product, it's to get them to change their lives. And a Twitter feed alone won't get the job done in the long run.

Views: 20

Comment by Gretchen on April 27, 2009 at 6:27pm
This is a GREAT article! I have been in HR/Recruiting for 15+ years and HR/Recruiting is always about 2 years behind the curve. They "think" they are cutting edge - but they really are not.

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