The 5 levels of Social Media Recruitment Maturity

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Feb 12, 2016
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

In the world of talent acquisition, it is all about hiring the right person at the lowest cost and at the right time.

After talking to numerous global companies in a myriad of industries, it has become clear that recruitment has unfortunately become an afterthought. Sourcing and recruiting are done as needs come up, and there are very few repeatable processes or procedures in place. Interviews are done differently every time, based on interviewers’ skills, experience, and domain knowledge. The lack of reliable scoring mechanisms produces inconsistencies with no meaningful data to assess and compare candidate profiles.

Add to that scenario the hiring manager’s needs and inputs. The challenge then becomes how to make an effective hiring decision that can be justified with quantifiable data.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to become one of the best places to work, and we all wish that there was a magic formula to achieving that status. The companies that get there are the ones that are able to attract, engage and hire top notch talent through data-driven employer branding strategies.

But before crafting such a strategy, talent acquisition leaders first need to understand their organisation’s current level of maturity and social media adoption. The term “maturity” refers to the degree of formality and optimization of processes. Using “reactive” and “proactive” strategies as endpoints — a reactive strategy might involve copying and pasting job descriptions from one social channel to the next and then waiting for the applications to flow in, while a proactive one forecasts future openings, and relies on relevant data and social media outlets to engage and attract quality hires.

The Capability Maturity Model was devised by the Software Engineering Institute, a R&D center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense to help improve existing software development processes. In this model, organizations go through ad-hoc practices, to formally defined steps, to managed result metrics, to finally active optimization of these processes. Since talent acquisition is a process-driven activity, can the maturity model be effectively used to gauge its level of maturity?

The CMM model has five levels and businesses cultivate new tactics as they progress through each level. In software development, a truly reactive strategy could take about two to five years to reach the top level, although not every company will move through the model in the same way. Below is its application to social recruitment. 

Level #1 — Initial (or Random Acts of Recruiting)

At this first stage, positions are filled as they become available. Organizations rely heavily on job boards and their not-so-mobile-friendly career site to advertise their openings. They are using outdated technology for applicant tracking, or even basic tools like spreadsheets and emails. Talent acquisition is really seen as an afterthought.

Social engagement is bottom up and led by individuals who have a passion for social media. An example of this might be a recruiter posting jobs or searching on social channels for candidates via their personal account.

Level #2 — Repeatable

Companies that have reached this level of maturity have developed a better appreciation for the importance of high-impact talent acquisition and social media. Recruiters may start building talent pipelines by working more closely with hiring managers and senior leaders.

Value creation is still limited to the ability to disseminate corporate messages to attract candidates. Engagement with external stakeholders’ is at its early stages. Technology needs become more apparent, but truly integrated systems are not yet in use. An example might include an organization manually posting company updates and jobs to a LinkedIn company page, or tweeting company updates and jobs from an official company Twitter account. Organizations implement cloud-based ATS to better manage internal workflows. 

Level #3 — Defined

At this level, the adoption of social media extends to mass collaboration and becomes a part of the culture. Social engagement starts to materialize through these internal networks and external communities. Recruiters take a leading role in cultivating and formalizing the employer brand, and start nurturing their talent communities. Marketing see the positive impact of such social recruitment campaigns and begin to reap the benefits of such synergies. Essentially, what candidates experience when engaging with an organization makes an impression which they will eventually share across the social networks.

By enabling such collaboration across all levels and by capturing and putting into action the resulting insights, organizations can truly begin to realize demonstrable business value.

Level #4 — Managed

Reaching Level 4 requires more enterprise wide technology and more cross-platform strategies, combined with stronger external and internal relationships. Senior leaders start supporting proactively changes in HR and see it as a competitive advantage. Social media sourcing, employer branding, and community recruiting programs are all in place and running efficiently. Talent pipelines are healthy and growing.

Hiring managers now need to make sense of the data gathered from these programs in order to tweak their social engagement strategies for greater impact. KPIs start to be formalized and monitored.

Level #5 — Optimized

The highest level of social recruitment maturity is the ability to use big data to optimize business outcomes. Examples include the analysis of resourcing insights and people analytics to identify long-term recruitment challenges and anticipate changes in the workforce. Real-time website and social analytics metrics are driving the talent marketing strategy. 

Action Plan to Get There

Having a proactive social recruitment strategy requires more than just having the latest HR technology and dumping career related or job posts on social channels. Recruitment leaders should view the progress of their organization towards maturity as a continuous improvement journey. In essence, recruitment organizations can become optimized when HR leaders have internalized the following four points.

  1. Demonstrate a strong knowledge of the company’s strategy, and actively participate in the direction of the business and its human capital.
  2. Adopt a forward thinking approach and try to anticipate cultural changes in the workforce (e.g. millennials). Some changes can be unforeseen; respond quickly to such challenges and avoid disruption to business operations.
  3. Use data to improve hiring and social engagement decisions. This consists in collecting and analyzing meaningful insights to measure performance and optimize social recruitment campaigns.
  4. Stay ahead of the social recruitment curve by investing in new products and services that will help automate and rocket fuel talent marketing and employer branding campaigns.


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This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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