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Engaging Your Candidates with Blogs

by Feb 12, 2009, 5:42 am ET

I was first exposed to recruiting blogs at the 2005 ERE Expo (and will be leading a free-wheelin’ discussion about blogs and social media recruiting at ERE’s upcoming conference in San Diego). Blogging struck a chord with me, so I started up a personal blog, and a year later a recruiting blog. I kept that one up for a year and a half. From the very beginning, however, I ultimately wanted to create a corporate recruiting blog. In 2005, only a handful of companies had embraced recruiting blogs. I watched how those companies were using recruiting blogs, and saw how blogging enhanced candidate engagement and communications in a real-time, relatively-transparent manner.

For the past decade recruitment marketing has primarily focused on print collateral, career websites, and job boards. To me, a corporate recruiting blog creates a dynamic, digital recruiting “brochure” that can be accessed by anyone, anytime, anywhere. A blog can tell stories, promote opportunities, educate candidates, and provide an inside view into what was happening at an organization. I wanted to peel back the top layer of my company and let candidates see what it was like to work here.

Very little has changed though over the past few years. There are still only a few of organizations with active corporate recruiting blogs, with Microsoft, Sodexo, Rehabcare, and Hyatt serving as excellent examples. One thing did change however this past year: I finally had the opportunity to launch a corporate recruiting blog, “Success starts here,” at my employer.

Why has corporate recruiting been so slow to adopt? I believe it ultimately comes down to a lack of understanding and a lack of trust by the traditionally conservative and risk-averse entities existing in many organizations. These are barriers that can and should be overcome; there has never been a better time for corporate recruiting blogs.

When I joined my current employer, I was fortunate that my boss, along with the leaders of HR and Marketing, could see the value of a corporate recruiting blog. However, building a case and obtaining approval for the blog didn’t happen overnight. Several considerations and benefits had to be addressed and the understood first:

Considerations:

  • Trust: Who would create the content? What would the subject matter be? What guidelines, if any, would be put in place to regulate content?
  • Transparency and Tone: How open were we willing to be? Would we create content or accept comments that might be less than flattering in nature?
  • Resources: Would there be more than one contributor? Who would monitor comments? How often would we need to create content? Would there be any monetary cost involved?

Benefits:

  • ROI: Other than soliciting help from our marketing department to create a banner for the blog, it has been fully operated and maintained by our recruiting department. The only “cost” is the cost of our time, which overall has been minimal.
  • Enhanced Traffic: Using site-visitation tracking tools, we know where our traffic comes from and where people go to when they exit the blog. Job boards, Google searches, and email signature links draw in the most traffic; the largest percentage of traffic exiting the blog are clicking to our career website, which was the blog’s goal in the first place.
  • Branding: Not long ago, we recognized that our most effective recruitment marketing strategy would be a grassroots strategy, built upon social media and the Internet. With a target audience made up primarily of Gen X and Y’ers, this was an easy conclusion to come to. Our goal from the start has been to reach those who are at any stage of our recruitment process and educate them as to what it’s like to work at our firm. The blog is just one component of a network of social media tools that we use. These tools not only educate candidates, but also to draw in prospects.

Sounds great, right? But what does it really take to get started?

  • Commitment. You need someone who is creative, who has a marketing-mentality, and who has good writing skills. If they have experience blogging, all the better.
  • Obtain buy-in from your marketing and legal departments. Use a current blogging policy or creating one that has guidelines regarding the nature and use of content. Make sure to create a disclaimer for your blog as well.
  • Select a platform. Blogger, TypePad, and WordPress are just three of the more popular options.
  • Identify contributors and subject matter. A blog with multiple contributors can not only spread the workload, but also provide diverse voices and opinions. Selecting the subjects that you will blog about in advance will be helpful as well. Subject matter could include job-search tips, company recognition, spotlighting people, locations, community service activities, or types of jobs.
  • Brand the blog. Your marketing department should be able to help you create banners and other graphics for the blog, effectively reflecting your company’s brand.
  • Develop links. Traffic to your blog will be highly dependent on the links you create to it and from it. Create links to the blog on your career website, Facebook page, LinkedIn, email signatures, and on other relevant blogs. Register your blog with Technorati. Create links from your blog to other relevant websites and blogs. Conduct email campaigns to your candidates and prospects promoting the blog.
  • Create content! Written blog posts should be brief — typically two to four paragraphs. If possible, include pictures, podcasts, and videos. Blogging platforms are highly dynamic and can easily support a variety of formats of communication.

Creating a corporate recruiting blog is a simple, economical, and effective way to tell prospects and candidates who you are, what you do and what it’s like to work for you. Do you have good stories to tell about your company? We did at RSM McGladrey, and the blog is now a powerful tool for us to share what is happening at McGladrey with the rest of the world. In a time and day where doing more with less is increasingly important, a corporate recruiting blog might just be the most cost-effective recruitment marketing opportunity available.

For some additional thoughts on launching a corporate recruiting blog, read this 2008 article by Microsoft’s Gretchen Ledgard.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • http://socialmediaheadhunter.com James Durbin

    Good article Ben. Some folks say blogging is dead, but I see it as the focal point for recruiting efforts. Candidates prefer blogs because they know there’s a real person behind it. We don’t know that about career sites.

    Your approach works best for corporations. It’s low cost, and dependent on the recruiting staff rather than requiring work from other departments. That’s a winner in this economy.

    For those reading, just remember to keep the blog focused, and don’t expect fast results. This is about changing the way we react to candidates, not just creating another sourcing tool.

    And you get out of it what you put into it.

  • http://patriotadvertising.blogspot.com Lisa Turner

    I thought you might be interested in this blog for the Houston Police Department. They update daily and the writer does a great job.

    http://www.hpdcareer.blogspot.com/

  • Glenn Gutmacher

    Nice one, Ben, and you’ll be happy to know that today’s SmartBrief e-newsletter picked up your post, too (http://www.smartbrief.com/servlet/wireless?issueid=C9CAE9EE-A8EA-48C9-A54E-C21EB1572966&sid=f8d92a98-7d63-438a-98c9-17465f2f984e)!

  • Keith Halperin

    A well-written article. At the same time, I find it hard to imagine that in these times, few save “dripping-behind-the-ears babes-in-the-woods newbies” would be so naive/gullible as to trust the regurgitated Corp Com/MarCom sludge produced in the dimly-lit dens of the organizational Hype-Meisters or the cubicles of their Stepford Drones.

    Cheers,

    Keith “Not as Cynical as I Sound” Halperin
    keithsrj@sbcglobal.net 415.586.8265

  • Ben Gotkin

    Keith,

    I understand where you are coming from as there are many who believe that blogs only exist to be edgy, controversial, and to expose the bad as much as the good in an organization. Being the non-conformist that I am, I tend to disagree with this mind-set.

    I almost hesitate sometimes to call our blog a ‘blog’ in fear that an expectation has been set that every post must be this highly transparent expose of whatever wart may exist in our company. Is our blog a marketing tool? I say yes without apology. Is our blog edited by our marketing and legal departments? Absolutely not. The blog represents the unfiltered words and thoughts of our recruiters, and increasingly, our actual employees.

    Should some level of transparency should exist on a corporate recruiting blog? Yes, and in our case, we are open to posts that may show something less-than-flattering, or comments that may be critical in nature (although honestly, we have not recevied many to date).

    The point though is that using a blogging platform can effectively render the static media options of the past irrelevant. It provides an opportunity to continuously deliver new content describing the interesting and exciting things happening at your organization. We are trying to proactively push-out content that we believe will be of interest to those who are exploring career opportunities with our firm.

    Most organizations have a multitude of great stories to tell. Blogging is a great way to tell stories, share information and educate. Candidates will believe what they choose to believe. I hope that when they visit our blog, they will see that our stories and intent are genuine in nature, and not just a bunch of marcom-generated hype.

  • Ben Gotkin

    Lisa,

    Thanks for the link to the Houston Police Dept Blog. They do indeed do a very nice job. I should also reference two other corporate recruiting blogs that I enjoy, One Louder (http://blogs.msdn.com/heatherleigh/default.aspx) by Microsoft’s Heather Hamilton, and the HCA West Florida recruiting blog (http://recruitingathcawest.com/).

    If anyone else knows of any other corporate recruiting blogs out there, please let us know by listing them as a comment here. It would be great to be able to start cataloging all of the active corporate recruiting blogs that exist out there.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thank you, Ben. I did not wish to imply that blogs should reflect a particular tone or style. Blogging is a tool, which allows for the rapid dissemination of opinions and information. As such, it is inherently neither good nor bad, but can be used for either purpose. Useful information can be gathered from a “cor-blog,” much as can be obtained from a corporate website, a press release, or an advertisement. However, in none of these cases should it be presumed that the information is objective or unbiased. My larger point is that one should be particularly skeptical of sanctioned information releases from any powerful organization that may seek to have you feel, think, do, or buy something.

    Cheers,

    Keith Halperin keithsrj@sbcglobal.net 415.586.8265

  • Jim Rose

    Ben,

    I’ve been a fan of your corporate blogs for a little while now. Thanks for taking the time to document the process…

    Cheers,

    Jim

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  • Rithesh Nair, PHR

    Great Article Ben and an excellent move for RSM.

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