Archive for October, 2011

Social Networking for Recruitment Reveals More of the Same…and Then Some

October 25, 2011

Similar to individuals, both recruiters and hiring companies are advised to get on the social networking bandwagon and do more with it.  As the old axiom goes, better get on that train before it leaves the station.  Great.  So we’re all on the train.  Now what?

Interestingly, despite the ongoing pervasive gloom, doom and uncertainty that surrounds all of us, recruiters and hiring companies are scrambling to hire for multiple positions.  Yet, they’re still coming up short in identifying and engaging strong prospective candidates.  In the past, they resorted to posting jobs on Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, etc.  Then came Craigslist, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.  Now, there are job posting aggregators that help spread the word by canvassing nearly all the venues.  Woopty doo!  Does this mean we’ve reached the recruitment promised land?

Hardly…In fact, most recruiters and hiring companies are simply using these additional sites to do what they’ve been doing all along – engage in reactive recruitment (posting a job opportunity and simply reacting to the incoming barrage of unqualified applicants).  Granted, they have the ability to reach a broader audience, but the method and messaging hasn’t really changed.  In some cases, the messaging has deteriorated, leading to unintended consequences.

Thanks to the get-to-the-point nature of social networking sites, we’re able to see just how desperate and lost hiring companies can be in this brave new world.  Here’s a recent example taken from a LinkedIn group:

“How do you recruit great staff? Do you have a successful strategy? Share it with us.  One of our biggest challenges is getting staff, both with experience who can hit the ground running, as well as junior staff with potential to learn. Job postings…have been largely ineffective. Are you using great recruiters who work for you? What else are you doing? If you are using a recruiter, how much are you paying? We need to hire a lot of new staff and are looking for advice.”

Better yet, check out this tweet:

“CompanyX is hiring six #SharePoint professionals asap. Work on the best projects & train to be an #MCM. Ping @xxxx to learn more!”

Let’s say you’re a SharePoint consultant and you happen to come across this tweet.  What are some plausible knee-jerk reactions you’d likely have?  How about these:

  • “So they’re hiring 6 of us asap, which likely means we’ll be thrown into projects with little or no training.  There certainly wouldn’t be any time to train for MCM certification.”
  • “Hmmm, I’ll be 1 of 6 hired into this small company.  What resources could they possibly have to ensure effective onboarding for 6 people all at once and how special am I going to feel there?  This reeks of instability!”
  •  “They’re boiling down what should be a set of critically important hires down to 140 characters?  I don’t think so.”
  • “How do you define ‘best projects’ and besides, they’re doing nothing to extol the virtues of the company.”
  • “It might as well be a job posting for McDonald’s – ‘Work on the best burgers & train to be a late shift Assistant Manager.’”

What are these companies actually saying about themselves and the jobs they’re looking to fill?  Ultimately, the messaging gets cheapened while the position lacks importance.  The company comes off as desperate, like the last two minutes of a 30-minute infomercial.  It certainly evokes questions about how such a company runs the rest of their business.  For some reason, this reminds me of Mr. Subliminal on Saturday Night Live!

Companies are good at the things that prompted them to form their company in the first place.  I can assure you that for most companies, taxes, telephony, web access, legal counsel, and recruitment are NOT on the list of things they’re good at.  So in the spirit of saving time and money, companies adopt a DIY mentality around recruitment that invariably costs them significant time, getting them way behind on their hiring objectives, all the while suffering an unforeseen opportunity cost compounded by delayed or poor hires.

The advent of social networking hasn’t changed this dynamic.  Instead, it has exacerbated the syndrome by airing out recruiters’ and hiring companies’ frailties, which in turn, tarnishes their brand.  Talk about unintended consequences!  When reviewing a job posting, candidates should turn a critical eye and think about what it’s really saying about the company.  It’s amazing how much more you can deduce from what appears to be an ordinary message.

At the end of the day, you can put up as many fast-food restaurants in the neighborhood as you wish, but it’ll never replace home cooking.  As it pertains to recruitment, home cooking means trusting vitally important hiring needs to a search professional who knows how to effectively leverage social networks, bolster your company’s brand equity, and engage in proactive recruitment methods.


Action items:

1.  Using social networks to promote your cause can all-to-easily backfire as it exposes everything and positions you in ways you hadn’t intended.

2.  Your tweets, blog posts, Facebook comments are lasting reflections of both you and your company.  If you mess up the messaging, there are no mulligans or pencil erasers to bail you out.

3.  Concentrate on what you and your company do well and seek out trusted advisors to conquer the rest.

4.  For candidates, try reading between the lines to gain insight on what these job postings might be saying about the company.