The game is up; the future of recruitment is social media. How many blogs and articles have you read espousing one or other varieties of that statement? Lots, I'm guessing and to a degree, it's true.
The competitive advantage of agencies and search firms has been significantly eroded over the last few years, at least as it relates to candidate identification, and progressively more so with scores of new potential candidates pouring onto the main social media sites - linkedin, Xing, and Viadeo - on a daily basis. With the reality of social media recruitment now firmly established, are corporate recruiters maximising social media recruitment potential? Well, not quite and not yet.
Many merely utilise social media sites to post their jobs. Others simply to send messages to prospective candidates identified through the search functionality of the site they are using. Whilst still delivering some benefits, this approach is largely missing the opportunity that social media presents to improve the quality of hire and truly impact the performance of hiring organisations.
For executive search firms, social media candidate generation is merely an extension of their custom and practice in candidate research. Social media makes it easier for them to identify prospects but they rely on their tried and tested practices to deliver talent for their clients and revenue for themselves. In the evolution of the search industry, those with the best practices grew whilst less efficient competitors floundered. So what principles can in-house teams adopt from search firm best practice to improve their social media outcomes?
Dedicate internal research resources or engage external social media candidate research partners to provide a specific focus on social media candidate engagement and attraction. The return on investment will be significant, particularly for management, professional and leadership roles.
Ensure a professional engagement with prospective candidates – have a candidate briefing that outlines the company, the culture, the role, the history of the role, the accountabilities, deliverables and potential development opportunities, as well as an indication of the broader employer value proposition. You will have to explain verbally anyway, better to produce a template once to use and tailor on an on-going basis to maximise candidate perceptions of quality and recruiter time management.
Don't rely only on site based messages for your engagement of prospects. Telephone prospects and engage them to agree to review your briefing and follow-up to discuss their thoughts. At the very least, you will know what they think of the job and your organisation. You never know, they may know the ideal candidate, especially if you ask them for a referral.
All recruiters are salespeople, whether they like it or not, whether they recognise it or not and whether they are any good at it or not. They are selling to the only product that can refuse to allow itself to be sold – candidates. In fact, social media candidates are not even real candidates at all in the traditional sense, rather prospects that have been approached and who need convincing as to the attractiveness of your role and company. To engage at all, to convert prospects to candidates and candidates into employees requires the recruiter to ensure that the total value proposition and its relevance to the candidates' motivations are well laid out, professionally communicated and reinforced all the way through the process.
Todays rejected candidate is tomorrows potential hire. Given that a social media approach creates an expectation in the candidates' perception of some due diligence on the part of the recruiter prior to approach, it is essential to provide a professional rejection regardless of the stage in the process where the rejection occurred. Failure to do so will damage the employer brand of the employer and significantly inhibit the ability to engage talent segments over time.
In general, the quality is in the passive candidate market and in this space the thoroughness and diligence of the approach dictate the best outcomes. By learning lessons from those who have streamlined their approaches in this market and by applying those lessons to new channels such as social media, corporate recruiting functions can greatly benefit in quality improvements and cost reductions whilst maximising their employer brand perception.