Using Blogs as a Strategic Recruiting Tool

Blogs represent an emerging and rapidly growing communication vehicle. Today, there are over 14 million blogs, and this number is increasing fast — over 80,000 are added each day. The applications for recruiting have been fairly limited (Microsoft’s brilliant marketing/finance and technical blogs aside). Yet there is a very real and powerful place for blogs in a recruiting strategy. Done well, blogging can save you time and money, inexpensively generate brand awareness and word of mouth, and do a more effective job at employer branding than your employment website.

Blogs as a Marketing Tool

In the excellent book, Creating Customer Evangelists, authors Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell demonstrate with real-world examples how “buzz marketing” has started to level the playing field between large, advertising-driven companies and small companies with limited budgets. Rather than spending huge sums of money on media and advertising plans, companies that embrace buzz marketing know how to have more personal dialogues with their customers and prospects. In our increasingly connected world, word of this approach has the potential to spread quickly. Another suggested reading on the topic of word of mouth and buzz marketing is The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. Blogs are becoming a de facto tool in the buzz marketing arsenal for emerging companies. They allow these companies to rapidly communicate information, get customer feedback, and create a community of potential customers that are more likely to purchase their products or services and spread positive word of mouth. Done well, a blog reduces the need for a big marketing budget to generate brand awareness. This is exactly why some CEOs, who are quite busy running the day-to-day operations of their companies, choose to spend their valuable time blogging. Even a company mascot has joined in the fray.

The Microsoft Recruitment Blogging Strategy

Microsoft has an interesting, love-them-or-hate-them employer brand challenge. They employ some of the most brilliant developers and business minds in the world, yet there is an entire population of their colleagues that would never work there. It is no secret that the reactions from candidates are often virulent. So how do you make Microsoft seem less like a slow-moving, bad-intentioned giant and more like a nimble innovator with a policy of open communication? Enter the Microsoft recruiting blogs, which now include an Australian entry. Add to this a host of blogs from Microsoft employees (over 3,500 of them in all), and you’ve got a phenomenon that has started to create a human face for the company. The Microsoft recruitment blog approach gives the company a competitive advantage for semi-active candidates by providing a level of personal interaction with candidates even some of the smallest companies don’t offer. If you post a comment, you’re almost guaranteed to be answered by the Microsoft recruiting gods and goddesses. In contrast, most candidates refer to employment websites as either “black holes” or “resume vortexes.” Posts are not always about recruiting or the Microsoft culture, which is exactly the point: create content that interests your target audience, and you can create a community of passive job seekers. In Microsoft’s case, there are literally thousands of readers of the recruiting blogs. Anyone researching a technical, marketing, or finance career will likely stumble upon one of the easily indexed blogs through a major search engine. This is low-cost, high-impact buzz marketing for recruiting. Microsoft has set a trailblazing example for the rest of the recruiting industry.

Blogging Strategies You Should Take Advantage Of

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Today, blogs are a competitive differentiator used by an elite group of pioneering recruiting departments. As more companies realize their power, they may soon be an integral part of every recruiting department’s strategy. I’ve spoken with quite a few companies about incorporating blogs into their strategies. The most common reasons I hear that they don’t blog today (with my usual responses) are:

  • “We don’t have the resources.” My response: Focus your resources on a better way to connect with passive candidates and you will see a return on investment.
  • “Nobody in recruiting has time to blog.” My response: Compare your 30 requisitions to the thousands of employees and initiatives blogger CEO’s manage. Twenty to thirty minutes every other day of one person’s time is time well spent.
  • “We’re not sure where to start.” My response: Blogging is amazingly easy. Blogger.com is probably the easiest to use of them all with a step-by-step wizard. (If you have questions on how to get one started or tips and tricks, please email me at davel@jobster.com.)

Here are a few recruitment blogging strategies for you to consider:

  • Replace employee testimonials. Employee testimonials are approaching ubiquity. Almost every company has them on their career website, and they all sound eerily similar. Candidates are bound to have a hard time telling an employee testimonial from one company apart from another. Highlight employees from time to time in your own blog postings. Link to employee blogs from your career website.
  • Augment your culture section with more dynamic content. Another dated approach to career websites is the standard “culture” section. Once again, there is very little differentiation from one website to the next. If you want to give people a real taste of your corporate culture, link to existing employee blogs from your career website. Think about approaching employees at the company about creating a culture-related blog and rewarding them for employee referrals that are generated through their efforts.
  • Create a talent magnet blog. Do you have employees or recruiters that can create content of interest to potential employees? Destination blogs are a great way to easily publish information that is relevant and interesting to passive candidates, while selling them on considering a career at your organization. John Sullivan has advocated answer guy sites for years, and blogs are a very simple way to accomplish this. Once again, reward employees that participate with employee referral bonuses when they drive hires from the site.
  • Create a dialogue with candidates. Is something preventing people from wanting to work at your company? Blogging can be an instant feedback mechanism that is less time-consuming to administer than an online survey, helping you make more rapid decisions.

Blogs have the potential to take communicating with candidates to an entirely new level while driving business results. They can be one of the most effective tools in your recruiting arsenal.

Dave Lefkow is currently the CEO of talentspark (www.talentsparkconsulting.com), a consulting firm that helps companies use technology to gain a competitive advantage for talent, and a regular contributor to ERE on human capital, technology, and branding related subjects. He is also an international speaker on human capital trends and best practices, having spoken in countries as close as Canada and as far away as Malaysia and Australia. His consulting work has spanned a wide variety of industries and recruiting challenges with companies like Starbucks, Boeing, HP, Microsoft, Expedia, Washington Mutual, Nike and Swedish Medical Center.

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