The New World of Social Media Recruiting, Part 1

May 27, 2010

We live in exciting times. Remember the mid ‘90s, when the Internet was growing exponentially? It opened up the world with speed of communication and spread of information.

The Internet continues to transform the way people live and how businesses operate, including ours — search and recruiting. Now we manage databases and use new tools to efficiently prospect, manage relationships, and deliver for our clients and candidates.

After the Internet boom, media stories were written about what would be the next “big thing.”

Well, we have two big things happening now, in my view. The first is about energy. We can’t live without it and must find new sources of clean energy to satisfy increasing demand while protecting the environment. This is a topic for other experts.

But the “big thing” in recruiting and staffing is Social Media, and how it will increasingly change the way we do business.

Businesses are in the midst of great transformation. All centers around information: how to find it, manage it, and communicate it effectively.

We in recruiting are at the epicenter.

Each recession makes us take a hard look at our business model. In the downturn of the early ‘90s, my firm established strategic partners (via split networks) and diversified into other revenue-producing activities (training, career coaching).

During the current recession, we’ve focused on building our recruiting brand while offering additional “human capital” services.

A key to success in recruiting will always involve how we communicate in the beginning of the process – finding and engaging clients and candidates.

Before the Internet, recruiting was about building a rolodex, mainly through cold-calling. It still is, but to a lesser degree. Email and websites changed that first, allowing us to touch greater numbers in less time. Now with the interactive web, two-way communication is changing the game dramatically.

It’s not about who you know anymore. It’s about who can find you.

Until about two years ago, the first step in our marketing and recruiting process was gathering quick information; name, company and phone number. Then we would make the call, using techniques to “overcome objections.” After all, we were originally trained that recruiting was about the numbers.

Consider this: With the ease and low cost of creating information today, potential clients and candidates want to feel very comfortable with you before they conduct business. They want to trust you.

Many times, the best way to obtain new business is still through a referral. However, for those who don’t know you, they want a professional who is credible who can deliver. And, they will want to check you out before doing business. What does your “electronic footprint” say about you? Have you Googled your name lately?

We never get a second chance to make a first impression. New objective: Make a name for yourself before you talk to prospects.

Today, my firm does this with a mix of marketing, PR, and social media:

  • Marketing is a multi-step process to build your name in the minds of prospective clients and candidates. Do you know it takes 6 to 8 “touches” before a client remembers you?
  • PR is about gaining visibility in the media; by being quoted in traditional (newspapers, magazines, TV) or new (electronic, blogs) media.
  • Social media involves two-way communication. The Big Three are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Key objectives are to build your profile and networks and connect them in the right ways.

Planting the Seeds

What do marketing, PR, and social media have in common? All require you to be proactive and plant seeds. All require building relationships. All enable branding and greater name recognition.

Over the last year, my firm has committed time and resources into building our brand.

We have taken the following steps:

  • Upgraded our website. Added visuals to help tell our story and highlighted three main areas: Executive Search, Training & Consulting, and Employment Expert services. The new site includes home-page testimonials and a resources page.
  • Obtained media coverage. Built relationships with editors of local and national media. Became “go-to” source for career trends/job advice. Quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, Yahoo! Finance, Asked to write “Career Expert” column for our state’s largest newspaper. Guested on radio shows, including NPR and Recruiting Internet shows. Fox TV and CBS called.
  • Built social media presence. I was interviewed over Skype, and the recording was then distributed over online platforms, including Twitter and YouTube. It was clear that this was “the way forward” to gain greater exposure, market our services, and build our brand.
  • Added a blog to our website. It adds an interactive feature to our site in which we post our latest ideas on recruiting, marketing, and industry trends. It enables two-way conversation and drives more traffic to our site.
  • Trained at/attended conferences in recruiting & social media. We’re learning the latest trends at the front of the curve. We’re in the conversation. We’re seeing a convergence in everything staffing — recruiting, training, talent management, HR, outplacement, etc.

Social media enables branding, broadcasting, and engagement. When done right, the potential pay-off could be huge.

The good news is we’re still in the early-adopter stage, in the second or third inning of a nine-inning game. If you haven’t gotten on the train or are unsure about what to do, hopefully, this will help you.

Editor’s note: Tomorrow’s part 2 will explore the six steps to building your social media brand.

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