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6 Classic Rules of Engagement for Engaging Passive Candidates via Social Media

by Mar 10, 2014, 5:42 am ET

Round up the usual suspects. - Claude Rains, Casablanca, 1942

Movie buffs will recognize this classic line from the closing scene in the film Casablanca when the police captain issues an order and saves the hero, played by Humphrey Bogart, from arrest.  The quote also accurately and, in our view, unfortunately, describes a common recruitment scenario. Organizations often will dip into the same pool of “usual” candidates, time and time again, rather than make the effort to engage highly desirable passive candidates.

It’s not that recruiters don’t want to engage the passive candidates that, by some estimates comprise 75 percent of the workforce … it’s that they often really don’t know how OR don’t have the time. By definition, highly desirable passive candidates aren’t interested in switching jobs, so getting them interested in your organization and eventually building an interactive relationship via social media with your recruiters is challenging, to say the least.

While there are literally hundreds of social networking tools available, using them to craft a solid strategy to precisely pinpoint and truly engage passive candidates requires persistence, patience, and an understanding of six classic rules of engagement, described in more detail below:  

  1. First and foremost, think like the passive job candidate. Put yourself in the passive candidates’ shoes to understand how they use each social media channel. Begin by surveying your internal talent pool to understand how members use social media so you can gain specific insight into what’s important to them professionally as well as personally. When communicating information about job opportunities, highlight your employer brand by featuring, for instance, your own employees sharing what they value about working at your organization.  Showcase the total rewards package, work/life balance, and culture of the company in your messaging.
  2. Don’t ever stalk community members. No one likes to feel like they are being “sold.” Use a light touch and don’t overwhelm candidates with information. Let them come to you through referral programs promoted by people they know and trust in their social and professional networks. Allow them to opt-out/opt-in so you know who is seriously interested in engaging with you further. Any passive candidate strategy is more about building a relationship and less about promoting and filling today’s hottest job.
  3. Always keep it fresh. Make sure you regularly deliver new content so you don’t lose the interest of community members so they keep coming back for more. One of our clients, for instance, uses social media to spread relevant, broader industry news, thereby developing a loyal community of followers that receives real value from its communications.
  4. Give back. Don’t just take information. Offer something of value back designed to attract and engage talent in a relationship with you and your company. Offer something more to your social networks than just jobs. Examples can include invitations to events, downloads of white papers, webinars, training modules, certifications, contests and rewards, insider information, and tips.
  5. Provide a unique perspective.  We’re certainly living in an age of TMI, so to make your organization stands out from others, make sure you provide a unique perspective that’s new and exciting. Avoid anything controversial, but do, for example, challenge conventional wisdom about industry trends. Work collaboratively with your marketing colleagues to sync your efforts (and leverage budgets) and share ideas about how to differentiate your employer brand in the same manner that your marketers differentiate your products and services. 
  6. Use multiple channels. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube may be the most common, but there are many additional channels and literally dozens of tools encompassing interactive content, video, chat, IM, downloads, uploads, video, and collaboration. Ensure that your platform supports these in an integrated manner and be sure they are easy for people to initiate a dialogue, especially through mobile devices. Consider investment in a social recruitment marketing platform technology solution capable of hosting large amount of data as well as the capability to track detailed ROI metrics.  Structure your CRM database to minimize duplication and also protect the security of personal data.

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.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thank you, Carl and Vince. In the world many of us here operate in (In-house Corporate, Contract Corporate, Contract/Temp Staffing) we simply don’t have the time to go after candidates who aren’t ready for a job NOW, or know someone who is. As the saying goes:
    “If you have time to develop a relationship with candidates, you don’t have enough reqs.”

    Cheers,

    Keith

  • Matthew Mellor

    With respect, what a sad state of affairs Keith, that candidates seem to factor so lowly in your order of importance. Perhaps one of them will be your client one day or you may need them for something – it would have been beneficial to have developed a relationship with them. Personally I think the saying you quote should be relegated to the dark ages.