Getting your company known to the right potential candidates is tough. This is especially the case when trying to attract the right graduating college students. Students at the big schools are flooded with information, career days, job fairs, emails, and posters. The information is often generic and broad — deliberately so and designed to attract a cross-section of students. But, at the same time it can lead to a flood of unqualified applicants and can degrade your on-campus brand and image. Most organizations focus on the bigger schools, so there is no budget or time left for smaller campuses. Students at small private schools and often even at state universities are left out of the active recruiting process for these reasons. Any tool or service that allows you to spread the word about your opportunities with better focus and wider penetration is a winner.
As I have previously written, video has become king. A recent report by Gartner predicts that 25% of all content will be delivered by audio or video by 2013. Those who want to gain mindshare and generate interest in their career opportunities or organization need to use some kind of interactive media — video, instant messaging, polls — anything that attracts and engages Gen Y. The most useful and powerful interactive tools include social networks — particularly Facebook if you are targeting college students — and even LinkedIn and Twitter — as well as video sites such as Youtube, Hulu, and AOLvideo.
Laura Short at Stout University of Wisconsin has created an interesting slideshow for college students giving them reasons to use LinkedIn and encouraging them to — because it is where you are. In this presentation she encourages students to develop a personal video and post it as a LinkedIn video. She also talks about the importance of a video presence.
As video is becoming the dominant form of communication, recruiters who stick with text-based career sites and even text-oriented social networks will find themselves in trouble if they are looking for younger candidates.
There are many services that produce videos and I have listed a cross-section of them in previous articles. But it is very hard to find any company doing something different enough that it may change the way we interact and communicate with candidates. All the social networks I am aware of are based on reading and writing. You have to create a written profile and list and bullet your experiences, education, and so forth. Recommendations are written. Resumes are written. Any interactivity is through asynchronous conversations (e.g. email), a smattering of instant messaging, and sometimes the ability to post messages, pictures, and videos and make comments.
There is, however, one company that has gotten my attention. It is U.S.-based and aimed squarely at college students.
It is called ThinkTalk Networks and, while it has not yet revolutionized the recruiting or social networking industries, it is thinking and doing things differently. ThinkTalk provides video-based career TV for college students. It allows organizations to make videos that are professionally produced that talk about their careers, culture, environment, and people. None of this is revolutionary.
What is different is that ThinkTalk is also an online video-based career community. On ThinkTalk students can ask questions of upcoming guests, chat with human resource professionals, and interact with students who have similar career interests using video. It has also developed a a TV broadcast network that includes over 175 colleges, and is growing. These colleges play a new 30-minute program that ThinkTalk provides each week to help it build their online audience.
What excites me is envisioning ThinkTalk becoming a social network where communication takes place with video used in a variety of synchronous and asynchronous ways. I can easily picture candidates and recruiters creating and uploading video content using webcams, professional studios, or cameras in laptops or cell phones. Gen Y will surely be attracted to that kind of site, and I imagine other age groups, even Baby Boomers, will too. After all, for most of us it’s a lot easier to talk than write.
Corporations and individual recruiters could produce their own videos. And, nicely produced videos become the equivalent of the musical videos singers produce and link nicely to the way young people think and act. Many of ThinkTalk’s videos have already been picked up by other sites such as AOL Video which shows their viral marketing potential. It seems more and more that any video posted to one site will end up on many.
But, ThinkTalk does more than simply showcase an organization: it also provides career guidance and inspiration through other videos they produce. In this interview with actor Emile Hirsch, students ask him how he got started and how he picks the roles he plays. The students become part of the show, get involved, and ask what they want to know. This becomes an educational experience as well as entertainment and information. I also see recruiting messages being integrated into product marketing and overall branding messages. Smart phones, like the iPhone for example, with their ability to connect to higher speed 3G networks become tools for watching, making, and spreading short videos. Already there is a video equivalent of Twitter called 12seconds which allows you to post — yes, you got it — 12 seconds of video.
Getting the word out about your organization, career opportunities, and culture will become more and more video-based over the next few years. I believe that social networks will quickly adapt and evolve into video platforms as it becomes ever more painless to make, edit, and post short video segments. It has taken growth in bandwidth and the development of higher-speed cell networks to power this revolution, but the time has come. ThinkTalk Networks won’t be the last of these innovative video-based services.