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Social recruiting? It's just a passing fad (unless you're a household name company of course)

Microsoft. Apple. Google. Coca Cola. Virgin. The BBC. What do they have in common? Each of them could advertise on the back of a cigarette packet, put a card in a shop window or float a message in a bottle out to sea and they would still get a good response to their recruitment campaigns. Indeed all of them receive hundreds of unsolicited applications each and every year.

 

Go to a conference and listen to the head of HR of one of these corporate giants wax lyrical about how social media is an integral part of what they do, has generated great interest and they have even filled a few vacancies through it. Great. I’m genuinely pleased for them. But what about the rest of us? The companies not so many people have heard of or aspire to work for? The unknown SME that may well offer better terms and conditions and brighter career development possibilities?

 

You'll hear plenty of talk about social recruiting is where it's at. Build a relationship with people. Get a fan page on Facebook. Get people liking your company. Get them wanting to work for you because you sound like such a great, down to earth yet aspirational organisation. The theory's great. The trouble is, it's just a theory. Do individuals really want to announce their interest in working for a particular company when someone from their current employer might be snooping around? Is declaring your love of a certain organisation something people are happy to do in a group or are career aspirations strictly an individual, private thing (not to mention the embarrassment of an adult confessing to ‘liking’ a company. It’s like the virtual note passed under the desk at school - ’I really fancy you’)? Truth is, no one really knows for certain.
 

 

What is certain however is that if you go looking online for testimonials about social recruiting as a success story, you'll find they are few and far between. Yes, you'll find the household names extolling the virtues but, as I said, what about the hundreds and thousands of other companies that don't enjoy such a high profile? The information to back up the theory just isn’t out there.

 

Easy, the social media gurus will tell you. Companies just need to go out there and get themselves a Facebook fan page, tweet a lot, blog about how great they are etc. etc. “Build it and they will come” mentality. But, if every organisation did that then social networks would merely be full of companies talking about how great it is to work for them, so how would a potential candidate be able to differentiate? How would seeing the wood for the trees be any easier? If anything it would get more bewildering and confusing.

 

Quite simply, social recruiting is an over-rated fad that will only ever get results for well-known companies that people have aspired to work for for years. There, I’ve said it.

 

Sure, there’s no harm in having a company page that talks about how great an employer you are, just as tweeting your vacancies may possibly generate a bit of interest. But, the social networks themselves are so time critical, so full of transient inhabitants who a lot of the time aren’t looking for a job but just want to talk about their day or crack a joke or tweet a link to a picture of a redneck house built out of multi-storey caravans. There are so many other channels they can use if they’re looking for a job. Plus, no one really knows how many accounts are active and how many have been created by individuals who, once the novelty wore off, just went off and explored the latest fad to come along (right now, they’re probably on Quora. In six months who knows?)

 

Don’t get me wrong. I think social media as a whole, has its uses. I myself get business from it. It’s also a consumer products company’s dream (low outlay, add in to the whole marketing mix etc) But, as a recruitment vehicle for anyone but the Fortune and FTSE companies, the household names and the high profile? Sorry, but no (though of course I would be more than happy for recruiters to post comments about successes they have had via Twitter, Facebook, Linekdin and the like.

 

Remember, when I blog, I like to be contentious and generate a lively debate, so don’t take it personally. No one really knows what's down the road for social and this is just my take. Why not prove me wrong with some testimonials that aren't from well-known companies?

Views: 171

Tags: advertising, boards, corporate, employment, household, job, name, recruiters, recruiting, recruitment, More…social

Comment by Alasdair Murray on February 17, 2011 at 3:36am
i understand the example about newspapers,of course. Here in the UK though there are several national newspapers with an online offering that includes a pretty decent careers portal. Then you have the trade press - engineering, catering, retail, finance, housing etc.etc. - all have online careers sections too. Throw in job boards, both niche and generalist and to be honest the average jobseeker would struggle to cover all bases if they had to factor in a trawl of social media too. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of social media in general. I've gained business through it. All I am suggesting is that whilst SM may be good for employers profile building campaigns and household names recruiting, when it comes to lesser known organisations and the vast majority of recruiters, it will never be a vehicle via which you can simply post a link to a job and expect the floodgates of quality candidates to open. There are just far too many links being posted and tweeted and the quality is no better than that you can find on a targeted website i.e. the aforementioned media owned career portals and the niche and generalist job boards.
Comment by Paul Alfred on February 17, 2011 at 7:44am

Finally Alasdair you said it ``It will never be a vehicle via which you can simply post a link to a job and expect the floodgates of quality candidates to open.....``  This is not the purpose of SM and this is not it`s ``best use`` ...   If Recruiters look at SM as a Job Board then they will never get the full benefit of this new medium ....  This is my point ... 

Comment by Alasdair Murray on February 17, 2011 at 8:05am
Hi Paul, yes, and I guess my point is is that is how it is being used primarily, certainly by a lot of recruiters - i.e. not at all creatively, but as a new job board (the old model is dying apparently, but that's another discussion!)
Comment by Simon Meth on February 19, 2011 at 7:59pm
Interesting article. Crazy number of comments that I couldn't force myself to read. Social Media (or SM) clearly has value. For me it's about maintaining existing relationships and making new ones. Lots of people contact me through LI. With BranchOut on FB I suspect the same will happen in time. I'm old enough to remember the time when a recruiter's choices were paid newspaper advertising or pick up the phone. The stats on the effectiveness of newspaper advertising back then weren't any better than SM today.
Comment by Henning Seip on February 26, 2011 at 12:05pm

I believe SM is best used as the second step in recruiting after you sort out the data from possible candidates. SM is a relationship building tool. Building relationships takes time, so you want relationships only with those whom you feel you can place today or in the future. 

 

The first step in recruiting is the real issue: Sorting out the massive amount of data recruiters are faced with. Efficient filtering is the name of game which is a technical issue. Job postings and resumes are text files whose content computers cannot decipher or reproduce as a structured document for easy and intelligent sorting.  While this function is missing new content producing sites jump up every day and generate more copies of job postings and resumes and throw it at recruiters and job seekers. The information fog gets thicker every day.

 

SM has it's place and will stay. It can be very beneficial for candidates and recruiters. But you have to sort out the data first.

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