When most recruiters learn about a potential new media channel like Pinterest or Instagram, their initial reaction is often to discount them as a low-volume source. Many recruiters shortsightedly fail to see their value, no matter how many desirable prospects “hang out” on them, simply because the new source is not designed primarily to be a recruiting site. But don’t let those recruiters with a shortsighted “fill the requisitions mentality” steer you away from a strategic opportunity to build your firm’s image as an innovator by being the first to use new approaches.
Including innovative practices and sources in your recruiting is essential because innovators look for signs of innovation in the recruiting process as an indicator that innovation permeates the firm. And if your firm is one of the first users of these hot sites, you further reinforce your employer brand image as a first mover and innovative firm. If you are going to be a strategic recruiting function, you need to look beyond the short-term goal of filling reqs.
Build Your Image as an Innovative Firm
Unless you have had your head in the sand, it is hard to not have heard about the rapidly growing popularity of the social media sites Pinterest and Instagram (and to a lesser extent Dribbble.com). Their growth has been exponential and although they are not primarily recruiting sites, they have a great deal of branding and recruiting potential. One of the primary reasons to use one of these new social media channels is that being the first to recruit on it will certainly get you noticed as an innovator. Not only will users recognize that you are leading the way but so will the media and blog writers. The net result of being a first corporate user on these hot sites will be getting you coverage and mention which will have a value well beyond any cost associated with using the tool. And incidentally, if your firm has a current reputation of being conservative or old school, using the new channels will get even more notice.
Why Use Emerging Sites for Recruiting
You might initially think it is strange to use these sites that contain primarily pictures for recruiting, but you would be wrong. Pictures and videos are “worth more than 1,000 words” because they provide the capability of making the excitement of your work environment come alive. Firms have been successfully using YouTube for years to recruit; these two new sites are just an extension of that approach. A second important benefit is that users on these sites post pictures of their actual work, so you can evaluate their design and creative capabilities directly. And last, if your firm is among the first to recruit there, you may initially startle some users but you will impress even more and you will face little recruiting competition.
Pinterest as a Recruiting Tool
Pinterest is a rapidly growing social media community where users pin (i.e. post) pictures related to their interests on their electronic pin “board” (like an electronic version of a cork board bulletin board). Many users use it to show off their work, so recruiters can use it to spot great designers. Users can also view the pins of others (pictures or videos) on their mobile phone to get ideas for travel, decorating, do-it-yourself projects or fashion ideas.
Pinterest is particularly appealing because its demographics are perfect if you are targeting women or young people as recruiting prospects. Southwest Airlines and Work Club have already used Pinterest for brand building and recruiting. Recruiters should encourage employees to post exciting work pictures on their own individual boards. Each department can have its own board where it posts compelling pictures. Recruiters can even post pictures or screen captures of job announcements and they can also subscribe to the pins of individuals.
Make your pictures easy to find by including the most popular keywords and hashtags. You should also include QR codes and links to your careers page or your LinkedIn profile if you want to communicate directly with interesting prospects. And don’t forget the important benefit that your brand image will likely improve because you’re using this hot app.
Instagram as a Recruiting Channel
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Instagram is a photo-sharing mobile app that was recently purchased by Facebook. Instagram certainly has the “cool factor” that draws trend leaders and that also helps to build your employer brand image. Its primary feature is that it provides filters that allow even amateur picture takers to make their average pictures look much more appealing. The app also allows you to post a filtered picture to multiple sites including Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter. And like any picture site, it allows recruiters and employees to post pictures that reveal the fun and excitement of working at your firm.
Dribbble.com as a Recruiting Channel
Dribbble.com is a social media site that focuses on designers. And because of the growth of social media, designers are in extremely high demand. The site has two purposes. The first is to allow designers (prospects) to post pictures of their designs (what are you working on?) related to specific topic areas (e.g. the iPhone). But the site is unique in that it allows recruiters (scouts) to join and use the site to identify talented designers. Rather than having to rely on their resume, you instead get a chance to assess their work directly. Apple, Google, and Facebook are all users.
Actions to Take to Build Your Image as an Innovative Firm
When assessing a potential new recruiting site like Instagram, Pinterest, or Dribbble.com, be sure and consider the following actions:
- Accept the role of spreading the innovation message — set as a goal to be among the first to use new innovative Internet and social media sites for recruiting, brand building, and business purposes.
- Decide to be first — “getting there first” provides a certain amount of street cred and follow up press coverage, so being an early adopter is critical. Your recruiting function must monitor potential sites so that when they begin to grow, you can act quickly to increase your presence. Even if it is only a minor effort, being the first to use the site for recruiting is important if you want your firm to be considered a “first mover.”
- Market research will tell you “who is using what”— the key deciding factor in any channel selection decision should be “are members of my ideal target audience heavy users?” Rather than guessing, it is better to use a market research approach to identify the user base of any site that you are considering. Start by surveying a sample of your own innovative employees and ask them to identify which social media and Internet sites that they frequent either at home or at work. If your own key innovators use it, the odds are that other innovators are also using it. And if the demographics and the characteristics that you are trying to attract are present in the heavy users of the channel, you must be visible on it. And even if the total number of users is initially small, remember to also assess the “coolness factor” of the site for employer brand building.
- Seek out the non-job-looker population — most social media sites are not recruiting sites, and that is their great advantage. The people using them include the 80% of the population that is not looking for a job, so they give you an opportunity to reach the large population who are not active job searchers.
- Forget the volume and focus on quality — many of these new channels will not produce a high volume of recruits, simply because the primary goal of these social media sites is not recruiting. The key is to disregard the volume issue and instead focus on the quality of the prospects who use the site. You are likely to find that the first users of a social media site are also leaders in other areas, and as a result, they are prime recruiting targets.
- Focus on the employer brand building value — a primary goal is to build your image and to send a message to all that your firm innovates in every area, and recruiting helps to reinforce that message. And remember to include the branding bump that they provide in your ROI calculations.
- Be patient — these niche social media communities will not ever produce large scale results, but they do reach people who would never look on a career site. So you have to be patient because results might take a little time.
- Don’t stay forever— once many firms begin using any recruiting channel, it will become saturated. With all the competition, you lose your competitive advantage and you begin to get diminishing returns on your investment. So if the channel is crowded, it might be time to deemphasize the channel and move on to something else that is getting hot but it is still not used by your recruiting competitors.
It takes a degree of courage and hard work to make a success out of these hot media sites. Because there not designed for recruiting, it takes some creativity and even trial and error in order to make them produce results. But if your goal is to recruit first movers and innovators, it may be time to move away from Facebook (which is “so last year”) and begin recruiting on these more innovative sites where you can see the actual work of your prospects.