Tripling Traffic to Your Careers Site With a Facebook Account?

Curious as to the impact of social media on your search-engine profile? Try this experiment: Go to a search engine and type in “(your company) careers” into the search field.

If you’re most companies, you may get one or more entries that may or may not point a job-seeker to the correct website. If you’re a few companies I won’t mention, you sadly go to the archives of well-known recruiter blogs begging you to upgrade your site. For the company Sodexo, the first result is its blog, and the second is the careers site, and the rest of the page is profiles in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Flickr.

Sodexo is one of the largest employers in the world, and yet it flies under the radar when it comes to staffing. Sodexo staffs food and facilities management services around the world, and employs over 120,000 people in North America. Imagine that req load.

Sodexo didn’t have to imagine. To add to the confusion, it recently changed its name, which means new branding, new marketing, and new search terms. So in December of 2007, curious about the blogosphere and the impact of social media on staffing, it launched its first blog. Sodexo Careers is written on Blogger, and covers issues of staffing and HR, but also corporate citizenship, technology, and culture. It’s the number one search result on Google for “Sodexo Careers,” beating out the careers site on Sodexo.com.

The blog started out private, but after a month of internal monitoring, got the green light to go public. The Staffing team didn’t have much marketing help in the beginning, so the task fell to Kerry Noone, a marketing associate with a background in branding to manage the social media duties. The blog success led Kerry to create a Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter presence, complete with hiring groups, touchpoints, and most important, live recruiters managing the action. For each site, the goal was to establish a presence, understand candidate expectations, and meet them.

Each site built on the success of the other profiles, and as Sodexo as a company got more comfortable with a site, individual recruiters begin linking to each other, supporting each other, and using personal profiles to create a lively and engaged hub for all of their hiring needs. What started as a single person writing turned into an organizational change that allowed each recruiter to use the company’s social media presence for their immediate and long-term hiring needs.

The focus was always on metrics. Traffic and hires were tracked as best as they were able (recognizing that hires often come from multiple sources). The result? A near tripling of traffic to the careers site by mid-summer, prior to the massive influx of resumes from the weakening economy.

  • In February of 2008, traffic to the site averaged about 50,000 uniques per month. Three months later, that traffic was at 120,000 a month, and by August 2008, the three-month rolling average was at 135,000, with peak numbers reaching 150,000 uniques.
  • These numbers only represent unique visitors to the careers site, and don’t count individual recruiter pages, fan pages, company profiles, or any traffic to the blog and other social media sites. YouTube alone saw over 60,000 video views in the first eight months of use.
  • Hires can’t be tracked accurately all the way from the first contact to the eventual hire, but recruiters do report regularly on the importance of social media in the initial connection, through the employment process, and after the offer. Candidates are better informed, and anecdotally more engaged and more excited about Sodexo the company.

The effects of integrating social media into the Sodexo employment process are undeniable, but the startling part of their success came from understanding the effects of social media on the internal workings of the corporation. Having a successful social media program that is highly visible has led to a high degree of cooperation between the Talent Acquisition team and other divisions. Other sections of Human Resources, as well as Marketing, Sales, Diversity, and Corporate Communications, use the Sodexo social media presence to better launch initiatives and connect with clients. Internal resources look to the Talent Acquisition team for its obvious social media expertise, and the executives have a firm grasp on the value of the effort, measured against other costs like advertising, job boards, and recruiting fees.

Anthony Scarpino manages the division for Sodexo, and with the firm support of the overall head of Talent Acquisition, he has seen results that far outweigh the costs of implementation.  The campaign, made up of individual efforts (and light management oversight), has made Sodexo better at hiring the staff it needs. They are better recruiters because they actually carry on conversations with potential job-seekers in the medium the job-seekers wish to use. This conversation has helped teach Scarpino what job-seekers expect, and through that Sodexo has been better able to empathize and tweak the process for an improved overall experience. The result has been a steady increase in hires in the short time they have had the program working.

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Most important, the success of the program has brought increased participation from the hiring staff. Recruiters aren’t forced into social media, but as they see results, they engage more and more, using the tools that best suit their hiring niche.

What Lessons Can Be Learned?

First, social media in recruiting may best be used at the individual level. Programs designed to give a company a presence online don’t work if they aren’t generating results for the recruiters in the trenches.

Second, supportive management is a key factor. The right amount of oversight and guidance is necessary to manage a system without dampening creativity and enthusiasm. In opening up to social media, Sodexo gave future employees avenues to speak with past and present employees. That’s a scary proposition for any company, especially one with so many employees, but the result has been a long-term positive reaction.

Finally, we see that it is possible to track the ROI of social media in staffing. Sodexo uses a mixture of branding and marketing metrics tied into standard hiring benchmarks.

The result in this case is an astounding increase in targeted traffic that once again shows that when social media is integrated into a company’s hiring DNA, good things happen. There are no silver bullets, but the earnest application of social networking can help your company put people to work.

Jim Durbin is the owner of
Durbin Media Group and a headhunter specializing in social media . As a blogger and a business owner, he is a valued speaker on the topics of online employment, recruiting blogs, and using social networks in the hiring process. Prior to starting the Durbin Media Group, he was a top performer as an account executive for national staffing firms. He entered the employment world in Los Angeles in 1999, at the peak of the dot-com boom. He is a 1995 graduate of Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and currently lives in St Louis. For information on his latest training products, check out the Social Media Headhunter Café.

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