The growth of social media as a recruitment tool has been rapid over the last few years, with Linkedin leading the way. Organisations now have the opportunity to leverage social media to drive significant quality of hire, recruitment cost reductions and operational efficiencies.
If we look at the benefits from Linkedin, the most lauded is cost avoidance through a reduction in agency fees. Perhaps because it's the easiest to quantify and indeed can be substantial. Not paying C.25% of a $100,000 salary aggregates quickly over 20 hires to $500,000. A great business benefit and very useful when discussing the recruitment function budget with your financial controller.
Another common benefit is time to hire. Clearly with such a broad range of candidates identifiable and contactable, it is possible to drive a hard charging recruitment assignment faster than through traditional methods; the quicker the hire is made the sooner they are helping to increase revenues for their new employers.
Whilst cost reduction and process efficiencies are important and real benefits, the opportunity to increase the quality of hire for organisations is where LinkedIn excels.
By expanding a search beyond candidates who are looking for a new job and hiring the best available from that limited pool, Linkedin affords organisations the opportunity to hire the best in the market that their value proposition and compensation can attract. Simply by mitigating the restriction of range of a search by using the vast network of linkedin members as potential hires can greatly increase the quality of a talent pool for a particular role(s). When used in combination with active channels and competitor mapping, the results can be impressive.
Another under discussed benefit is the market connectivity and stakeholder feedback that leveraging networks on linkedin and elsewhere can bring.
Understanding a talent pools reaction to your organisation attractors, value proposition and compensation is key to understanding and improving the return on investment of your recruitment spend. Also, by directly engaging with your target talent segments, you reduce the risk that they will be hired elsewhere during your recruitment process – a big concern when using no fix no fee recruitment agents, who may market a candidate to 10 competitors at the same time to improve their chance of a fee.
So, with such significant business benefits available and with the main competitive advantage of search firms - databases and networks – largely mitigated by linkedin and other tools, why are so many organisations missing the opportunity to maximise, or even utilise social media channels like linkedin? To get to the answer, we first need to look at the elements that need to be in place to successfully support an effective social media recruitment capability:
Social media recruitment takes time – to research, contact, screen and engage prospects and turn them into candidates for selection takes a lot more time than sending a requisition to a group of agencies or to post a job on a board. Whether your recruitment is done by a HR generalist, a recruiter, or a specialist sourcer, it's critical that they have the time available to add social media recruitment to their existing sourcing channels.
When engaging prospects on linkedin regarding career opportunities, it is important to understand that to convert a prospect to a candidate requires that the organisation, it's value proposition and the role be sold to people who are happy in their current jobs but who may be open to hearing about other opportunities.
It is also important that hiring managers understand the difference between an active and passive candidate and that processes are tailored to consistently reinforce the value proposition during the two way assessment process to maximise the chances of a successful hire and to minimise drop out and offer rejection.Linkedin is not a database of candidates who have specifically come to the site seeking employment – like the Monster candidate database for example – and adopting the appropriate philosophy to engage prospects and turn them into candidates will have quite an impact on the quality and number of prospects engaged as candidates.
How you contact prospects identified from linkedin and other social media sites will have a significant impact on engagement rates. Providing a high quality briefing document - covering the role, organisation, culture and value proposition by inmail (linkedin email) and following up by telephone or inviting a telephone conversation will yield many more referrals and interested prospects than simply inmailing a role profile and inviting applications.
It's often said in sales that people buy people first. In social media recruitment it's also the case when trying to engage people with your career opportunities. Having recruiters that can articulate the company attractors, its value proposition and culture as well as the function and role, in a way that aligns with a prospects motivation and career goals, will have considerable impact both in conversion rates of prospects to candidates and on corporate and employer brand perception.
In order to generate candidates, recruiters/researchers require access to as broad a network of prospects as possible – Linkedin provides a range of subscriptions with varying degrees of access to the complete linkedin network and with varying ranges of support tools and inmail (direct email contact) allowances etc. The cost is marginal to the cost avoidance of agency fees. Without a subscription, recruiters are left to building their own network of contacts which, even with most dedicated of networkers will take considerable time and will be unlikely to provide the quantity and quality of a subscription based network and may disappear with the employee if they leave the employer.
In the process of social media recruitment research, a great deal of information will be available on how key talent and talent segment view your organisation and its value proposition, market information and referrals etc. Great information, particularly if you are consistently recruiting within a sector or talent segment. How to manage and leverage this information is a common question. The answer for many organisations is a customised version of a customer relationship management tool (CRM) which enables information on talent segments, competitors, skillsets, prospects, feedback and other information to be easily and cheaply organised, managed and leveraged.
To answer the question as to why many organisations are missing the opportunity to maximise or even utilise social media to generate the significant benefits available, there are typically three broad factors: Lack of subject matter expertise, lack of headcount or lack of financial resources. So what can be done to mitigate these challenges?
Subject Matter Expertise
Developing a social media recruitment strategy cannot be done in isolation of the general sourcing strategy, service delivery approach or other operational aspects of delivering recruitment in-house. However, there are various RPO, HR Consulting and interim experts in the market across all territories that can provide the expertise on a project basis. Indeed, Human Capital talent offer a high level audit of recruiting strategy and operations to produce a practical social media strategy and detailed operational process recommendation that organisations could quickly implement, with or without support.
In the current economic climate, many HR and recruiting functions are progressively challenged to achieve more with less and are seeing an absolute focus on HR headcount management and reduction. In these circumstances adding headcount to leverage social media recruitment and direct sourcing is a significant challenge. To overcome these challenges many organisations are maintaining their e-recruitment process for active candidates and/or adding or continuing to use agencies. However, many are missing an opportunity to utilise co-sourcing to task out those parts of the process that they cannot, or do not wish to, do in house.
The process of name gathering, reviewing, screening, and engagement up to selection and shortlist can be provided by the global network of independent researchers, recruitment process support firms and specialist research organisations, negating or reducing the use of agencies. All work can be specified to mirror your own standards, SLA's and materials and charged at a per day or project rate. There is an existing flexible service tier that can be leveraged to allow access to linkedin and other social media, often at a discount of up more than 50% of agency and search firm rates. The firms are in-country, off-shore and near-shore.
In many organisations, it's easier to get money than headcount. In a growing number of companies it's difficult to get either; more so in centralised HR shared services budgets. This provides a clear issue for recruiting functions. If they can't do social media themselves and they can't pay for process support, then many are resolved to continuing with the status quo and missing a clear opportunity to drive real business benefits. For most organisations in this situation, the recruitment budgets will be held by the business, typically for agency fees. In my experience, a well-developed social media strategy recommendation combined with a sound financial base case can win support from business budget holders to divert budget for agency fees into supporting social media recruitment, even as a pilot initially.
I recently worked on a project for an organisation spending millions in search firm retainers trying unsuccessfully to hire chemical engineers and plant superintendents across Europe. The lack of hires was causing serious issues in plant management, capital investment and maintenance management for their plants in Russia, through Europe across to the UK. I worked with the HR Directors of the engineering function and their supporting business units to define a social media and competitor talent attraction strategy and financial base case.
The recommendation included developing social media channels and competitor mapping process supported by a researcher, recruiter and admin, with an external research support network to provide scale. As there was no headcount or funding within HR, the business funded the costs of the tools and people and within 6 months the organisation was directly hiring their entire professional and above level engineering talent from linkedin, other social media and competitor mapping with significant reduction in costs and time to hire.
With so many benefits to be gained from Linkedin and other social media recruitment channels and so many ways to deliver the services – in-house, outsourced or co-sourced, I am sure that organisations with continue to progressively adopt Linkedin and other social media. However, like most aspects of business, the level of return on investment will depend on the adopted strategy and will vary in-line with the quality, diligence and depth of approach. Happy Hunting!