Here we are in 2008, soon to be 2009, and almost a decade into the 21st century. The Internet is maturing: it’s been around for ordinary people to use for almost 15 years and has already earned its place as a technology and a social movement as important as electricity.
Most recruiters, corporate or agency, have finally developed career sites and use the Internet for attracting, sourcing, and communicating with candidates and clients. The website is the bedrock of an effective recruiting practice, and while it may still be possible in local or niche markets to avoid it, for mainstream and volume recruiting a website is essential. In this article I am assuming you already have a decent website that has interactivity, video, audio, and other graphic material and updates frequently. That is old news.
But, to get a jump on your competition and to attract the savviest candidates, it takes more than a good website and good recruiting skills. Here are four essential tools for success.
Tool #1: Facebook or MySpace
You should have a personal and a corporate presence on a social network. I have only listed Facebook and MySpace because they represent the largest share of the social networking world in the United States and a significant percentage outside the U.S. If your organization has global operations and recruiting needs, then there are networks for China, India, and many other places that you should also consider.
College students and most other young professionals turn to these networks for information about you, to ask their friends about you, or to join a community of practice that you have created.
The U.S. Army, faced with massive recruiting challenges, has numerous Facebook and MySpace pages. Some of the pages act as testimonials or provide videos of real people talking about why they joined the Army. Other pages are focused on fun experiences such as simulations of driving a tank or on gaming.
However you use these networks, you will be exposing your brand to thousands of potential candidates who, at least to some degree, will judge their potential work experience by the quality of the content. That’s why these pages have to be done thoughtfully and have to connect to the type of viewer and what they are expecting to see and hear.
Tool #2: LinkedIn
I separate LinkedIn from Facebook and MySpace because it is not really a “social” network so much as a simple way to link people who know each other together in a web of interconnections. These interconnections can be useful when they are leveraged well, and LinkedIn has developed special applications for recruiters.
You should all get a copy of Bill Vick’s excellent guide to using LinkedIn for recruiting. LinkedIn allows you to build a network of people who know you and each other. By working to populate this network with the kinds of people who you either would like to recruit or who can help you find those you can recruit, you can leverage your success many times over.
And by learning methods such as those taught by Shally Steckerl you can use LinkedIn as a structured, searchable database of potential candidates.
LinkedIn is a versatile tool and can be used for marketing, search, and connecting. This is what makes it as essential tool for your toolbox.
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Tool #3: Your Personal Blog
Developing a blog puts you ahead of almost all other recruiters by building your brand and your organization’s brand. Blogs have become the most authentic course of information for candidates. They like to read the personal stories and hear about your organization from your perspective.
Most candidates are wary of official corporate career sites because they realize how controlled these sites are and they understand that a public relations expert wrote the copy. What candidates are hungry for is authenticity and personality. And this is what blogs have in abundance.
Yet, every time I tell recruiters to create a blog I hear groans and complaints. I hear things such as, “My organization won’t allow us to blog.” Or, “I don’t have time.” Or, “No one can read all the blogs that are out there.”
While I can’t do much to help you overcome internal organizational bans of recruiting blogs, I can suggest you think about creating a personal blog outside of work that can build your brand and help you source good candidates.
Blogs can be updated once a week or so and entries can be quite short. Good blogs keep each posting to a single idea and add pictures or video to maintain interest. Devoting an hour or two a week to a blog is far more useful than spending that time pouring over unsolicited resumes or cold calling.
Tool #4: Twitter
Twitter is the most recent and least understood of these tools. It is a mini-blogging tool that allows you to write 140 characters at a time and send the message to a candidate’s mobile phone or website as a message or as an SMS. Over 2 million people have Twitter accounts and the number is growing very fast. Twitter can be used in a variety of ways to improve the recruiting experience and as a sourcing tool.
Jason Whitman from IT.Toolbox has written a few blogs pointing out ways Twitter is being used as a sourcing tool. Art’s Blog from Bullhorn, a major supplier of recruiting software for the agency world, also gives some ideas of ways to use Twitter for recruiting.
Use Twitter to push out job announcements to potential candidates, stay connected to a special group of people, or keep those top candidates in the loop. It’s free and easy to use. And, because so few are actually using it, you will have a real advantage for a while over everyone who is isn’t using it.
Staying current is never easy, but at least it can be fun. Experiment, play, and see where these tools take you. I think you will like where you end up.