Another week and another social media conference goes by. Another chance for the ever-increasing number of social media experts to tell recruiters how to attract and engage with candidates, create talent pools etc.
But here's the problem. In this avalanche of 'this-is-what-you-should-be-doing' information, who is representing the views of the candidate? In the social media recruitment equation, candidates are customers and they have a voice. They are the ones who need to be attracted and engaged with. Which companies ignore the opinions of their customers? Well, in recruiting terms, it seems most of them.
I am currently a candidate looking for a job, so I have some real insight into the motivations of job-seekers, and what companies are offering in the social media recruitment space. And, frankly, from the candidate perspective, the scene is not good. There are some real problems to overcome.
- Most corporate websites are firmly in the grip of the marketing function. The objectives of the marketing and recruitment arms of a business with regard to social media comms are different. Candidates do not want to be inundated with corporate PR, but they are.
- Usually a mix of corporate news and retweeted/shared articles which can be found elsewhere. A lack of genuinely insightful and original content of interest to a potential employee.
- Recruitment output is often limited to tweeting/sharing job postings. By their nature, most will be irrelevant.
- People who are out of work want to get back into work quickly. People who are in work and want to move do not have a lot of time to conduct a search. Job-seekers do not want to have to follow/like/share/link to large numbers of different sites or pages to have irrelevant jobs posted to them. They want to see lots of relevant jobs in one place. That's why they go to job boards.
- Engagement with social media sites can be in the public domain, and increasingly employers are likely to take a dim view of some of their employees' online contacts. (In the interests of balance, a big tick in the box for Google+ Circles in this regard- but are there really 100 million active users?).
- There is still a sense that simply having a Facebook page etc will give you a presence and attract candidates, an "if you build it they will come" approach.
- There seems be be a lack of commitment to engage from the employer/recruiter standpoint. The onus is still very much on recruitment as a transaction, and on the candidate to seek out and apply to a role.
- Why, when in such a scenario the recruiter has full access to CV & contact details from many candidates who have shown an interest in the company, is nothing positive done with this information? Telling unsuccessful candidates to keep looking on the website for new jobs does not convey the idea of an organisation actively committed to building a pool of talented individuals on which to call in future.
- Candidates ARE interested in a potential new employer's reputation and culture, but they rarely either look for or get this information from a corporate-sponsored site. A general internet search on corporate reputation is much more instructive.
- Candidates, both passive and active, can and do join groups where they can share experiences, information and problem-solving techniques with like-minded professionals from the same sector. But which corporate is going to sanction a site where it may be sharing information with someone from a competitor company? I haven't seen one.
LinkedIn and Twitter are my major social media of job-seeking choice. I use the LI job board (!), but also in the same way as a recruiter, I can use LI to identify and contact people direct who I think might help with my job search and exchange information that I think is relevant and over which I have some control. The social media recruitment model just doesn't seem to be as targeted.
If I, as an active job-seeker, see no incentive to engage, what chance do companies have of attracting the passive job seeker, that Holy Grail of the recruiting world?
The irony is that all the building blocks for successful social media recruitment programmes are out there. It is just that nobody seems to be asking the most important people, the candidates, what will attract them in.