Try This 5-10-minute Experiment if You Are a Real Recruiting Human Being

A great analogy for candidates (both active and passive) these days is a tourist wandering into a foreign food and goods marketplace.

What first starts out as a genuine desire to see what goods and eats are available quickly turns scary and intimidating. You know the scene: vendors screaming “over here!” and “I have X the cheapest,” insulting the other vendors or sometimes even grabbing the tourists physically. What started out with an interest from the shopper to potentially buy quickly becomes something entirely opposite — and not what the vendors intended for their prospects of selling either.

Our “online marketplace” is, unfortunately, no different these days. Instead of vendors screaming at a tourist, most companies are “screaming” at their potential candidates. Just go to your LinkedIn feed any day and see the countless, spam-like “posts.” “Now Hiring!!!” “Job Vacancy!!!” and “URGENT REQUIREMENT” were just some of the gems I saw this morning alone — and it happens every single day. Throw in the new recruiter trend of memes shaming the candidates to top it all off.

To candidates, this experience is akin to the tourist in the market — scary, intimidating, off-putting, and ultimately all of the “vendors” blending into one nameless, faceless spammer. Just about every company these days is trying to stand out to prospects, but doing it completely ass-backwards and in a lot of cases embarrassingly so. 

As an industry, we all understand by now the importance of branding your company as an employer and the potential advantages it can do for you to attract talent. Candidates have more than just several options today. They have more information available to them than ever before. With the Indeeds, Glassdoors, LinkedIns, and countless other platforms today, candidates can learn a lot about your company very quickly and start forming opinions on working at your company long before they even consider applying or responding to your precious InMails. Yet, while most understand this, the majority still treats this as an automated, check-the-box exercise and are actually accomplishing one of two things: nothing (0.0) or negative recruiter/company perception.

The whole concept behind branding is to create a connection between the brand and the consumer that results in a purchase. Now, think of the very emotional journey that is someone deciding on a career. Outside of getting married and having children, there is no more emotional decision is one’s life. Think about it — it is how we identify ourselves in society, who we associate with most of our waking hours, and how we support our families and lifestyles. Pretty heavy stuff. Yet, most companies continue to treat this emotional process as something a robot and some spam can address. 

The point of this blog/rant is that the real key to standing out and creating the connection with the consumer (candidate) you seek is simply acting and talking like a real honest to goodness person. It has been said before, but people buy from people — not corporations.

I defy any of you out there to tell me the “set it and forget it” auto-spam job postings are working for you. Try an experiment. Look at the analytics behind your auto-posts (engagement, source of hire, source of applicant) as a baseline. Then, for the next two weeks, take the extra 5-10 minutes and post compelling job posts (a blog for another day but describe the job not the person and talk like a human here too) and write a real human being message with it. Not about “great culture!” but why the job is great and what is cool or unique about joining your company. Now, after two weeks compare against the initial analytics you ran.

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If you do this right — and as a human being — I am more than confident you will start to see tangible differences in your day-to-day recruiting efforts. Additionally — don’t be a “taker.” Social media is just that — social. If you are a taker and not a giver you, my friend, are sucking at social media. Have conversations, offer up meaningful content and act without an obvious agenda. Just like in real life, we only talk to people we like and respect. Just because you are online does not make this any different. 

Taking the “be a human” step is the first one in truly creating something compelling for your prospects to connect with. The longer journey of a successful employer brand is all based on this very concept — and with that humanity, the understanding is that if you are truly being a person some people might not like it too. Honesty is always the best policy, especially in this endeavor. I am excited to be running a hands-on, small-group, RSVP required workshop at ERE in New Orleans in October, working hands-on with fellow recruiters and TA leaders in doing just that. Come join what is sure to be an awesome conference! 

Ed Nathanson

Ed Nathanson helps great companies come to the good side of the force and join the rebel alliance. He has 20 years of experience as a global talent acquisition and human resources leader. He has been profiled or appeared in publications including the Boston Globe, CIO.com, Xconomy, Boston Business Journal, Corp Magazine, CNBC.com, Wired Magazine, and more. He is the founder of Red Pill Talent, LLC.