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Going Online: A Recruiter's Playground

Amid career sites, blogs and social networks, the online space offers recruiters an immediate way to connect with and target the best talent in the global marketplace.

November 8, 2009
Related Topics: Technology
Whether it’s through job boards, a company career site or social networks, recruiters have moved the candidate search online, where job seekers can increasingly be found. Because so much of recruiting has moved online, recruiters frequently advise job seekers to create a positive online presence, but it is just as important for companies to take the same care with their corporate online presence.

Savvy companies strive to create a digital presence that speaks directly to job seekers and effectively communicates the organization’s talent brand. If executed properly, a company’s online presence will inspire candidates to come directly to its site.

The Marketer’s Mindset

Marketers have been experimenting with and finding success through online branding for years now. As recruiters embark on this same path, it is beneficial to look at how to take a marketer’s point of view when building a company’s talent brand online.

The first step to online talent branding is getting into the marketer’s mindset. Recruiters are advertisers of their career brand and must think like marketers to get the best talent. This means crafting online recruiting programs the way a marketer creates his or her online branding programs.

First, target the specific audience. Talent managers know who their ideal candidate is — it’s right there in the job description — they just need to make sure the right people are seeing it. The old post-and-pray method for job boards is highly ineffective, and most recruiters would agree the quality of candidates from job boards is not as good as those gleaned through other methods because job boards simply don’t target the right audience.

The advent and subsequent explosion of social networks, on the other hand, has given recruiters a bevy of alternative options to communicate open job positions. To narrow down the most suitable networks, talent managers have to do “market” research. That means finding out what niche sites, online groups and forums the target candidate audience is likely to frequent. Then, examine that group’s online communication habits. Do they prefer to communicate via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or in other ways? The March 2009 Nielsen report “Global Faces and Networked Places” found social networking has overtaken e-mail as the most frequent Internet activity, so a traditional e-mail may not be the recruiter’s most effective method of communication.

Once the recruiter has identified the target audience, he or she must craft the organization’s message in a way that communicates to them specifically. The message is the company’s job description, and while it needs all the facts and figures, it should also be somewhat personalized. Break away from a dry listing of requirements and tell the candidate a story about why the job is so great. Include key search terms in the description so people in the area who are already interested can find it no matter where they are looking online.

But pushing out an organization’s message only goes so far. Any marketer will confirm that third-party endorsements and word-of-mouth are a company’s best recruiting assets. People use their social networks online — just as they talk with friends offline — to find information and ask questions of their own trusted sources. According to “The Impact of Social Media on Purchasing Behavior,” a 2008 study from DEI Worldwide, 70 percent of consumers have visited social media sites to get information, and 60 percent of people said they are likely to use social media sites to pass along information to others. People look to their networks for advice on where to work, just as they do for advice on the best car to purchase or the most interesting movie to see.

Evangelizing a career brand has to start internally. Provide a good experience for prospects, customers and employees, and they will talk about it online. Empower employees to facilitate the recruiting and branding process by giving them easy access to post jobs through their own social networks. Recruiters also can add internal and external public relations to the mix by celebrating hiring and employee successes through the company blog, career site, Facebook page or other online social channels.

Tools of the Trade

New online tools to help recruiters promote their talent brands are being introduced every day. The following are just some of the most important online tools in a recruiter’s arsenal.

Career site: The career site is one of the most important tools for an employee to use when evaluating an organization for employment. This type of site should not just be a listing of jobs. It needs to tell a career story and answer the all-important question: “Why should I work here?” A career site should be an extension of the corporate brand. Whether the organization is a technology company looking for tech-savvy people or a startup looking for employees with entrepreneurial spirit, it needs a career site that conveys that message. Career sites need to be a one-stop shop for all information related to a company’s career offerings. Anticipate questions that prospects might have and answer them.

On the same note, recruiters need to ensure the career site houses all of a company’s other online channels. This would include an employee blog, a YouTube channel and a link to follow organizational goings-on via Twitter or to join a group on Facebook. HubSpot, an Internet marketing company, does an excellent job of including all these communication channels on its career site and even directs employees to other sites and blogs that it likes. HubSpot also communicates its culture effectively by including the work benefits on the first page of the career site, personalizing its job descriptions and posting an employee video.

Social networks: Membership growth of all social networks has been unprecedented over the past few months. Further, social networks aren’t just for kids anymore. People 35 and older are the fastest growing demographic on Facebook, and the majority of Twitter users are between 25 and 54 years old.  

Social networks give recruiters the unique ability to expand their network of prospects tenfold by tapping into an organization’s employee networks. To further aid branding efforts, connect with employees online or give them the ability to post jobs themselves to open the door to a whole new world of prospects.

While there are more networks out there than people to fill them, there are a few key networks for recruitment, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn is a must-join for recruiters and companies. As the original professional recruiting site, many people join the site for the sole purpose of career networking. LinkedIn allows users to post open jobs, but there are other, less direct ways to utilize the service. Beyond the basic profile, recruiters should create and maintain a company page or group that allows prospects to see who current employees are and connect with them. The company page should house information about recent news and events, and it should connect recruiters with relevant contacts and groups so they can track prospects and send out targeted job postings.

Facebook is one of the emerging platforms for recruitment and provides a more personal and informal way to share career information. Recruiters can create a company group, career fan page or company profile that offers organization-specific information, what it’s like to work there and current job openings. These places allow recruiters to invite open communication and questions from potential candidates. TiVo, the maker of digital video recorders, for example, has created a TiVo jobs fan page that includes relevant news, a rolling feed of job openings, videos and pictures of company happenings, such as a blood drive and a charity lunch.

Lastly, Twitter is catching on like wildfire. The first step to engage on Twitter is to create a corporate careers account or use a company’s main account to post open positions, giving followers an up-to-the-minute listing of the most current jobs. To really expand an organization’s talent brand on Twitter, recruiters have to use the tool as more than just a place to post jobs. Tweet insightful information on the company and interviewing tips as well as industry-specific trends to draw people to the feed and ultimately the company. Immediacy and frequency are key. Recruiters also can be proactive and identify, and interact with potential prospects through the social network.

Blog: Today it seems that everyone has a blog and, more and more, consumers are turning to these blogs as trusted sources for information, so it makes sense for a company to have a presence in the blogosphere as well. A blog can act as the voice of an organization and give prospects a look at what a company and its employees care about. It also helps to build rapport with candidates before they step in the door. While it may seem intimidating to give people an open platform to say whatever they wish, talent managers can implement guidelines or moderate blog posts to protect brand integrity. Zappos, an online retailer, has been a champion of blogs, and many of its employees, including its CEO, blog. In fact, it is one of the company’s main forms of communication to the general population.

YouTube: Last but not least is YouTube. If you think it’s just for silly videos, not quite. Many corporations are turning to YouTube to post product videos, career videos and more. By creating a corporate or career channel on YouTube, recruiters can provide a visual representation of an organization’s career brand. It allows people to see inside a company — the people as well as the place. Crispin, Porter and Bogusky, a global advertising agency, used the channel to gain Internet buzz and media recognition for a spoof video created to give a humorous look into the everyday life of its interns.

The fact is, in today’s recruiting environment, creating an online presence has become essential. Social media and the Internet are not going away, so any recruiter patiently waiting for this trend to die out is missing a valuable opportunity to build connections with well-qualified candidates at little cost. Marketers have had great success using the Web to reach target audiences and have set a good example for recruiters to follow. Try it.
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