With the threat of a talent shortage looming and the resulting need to recruit younger workers, many companies are turning to social networking tools such as MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and blogs to tap into the next generation of employees. Soon, however, candidates might be hearing even more from these organizations — literally.
With the introduction of corporate podcasting, often called “jobcasting,” businesses are applying Web 2.0 technology in a new way to recruit key talent, this time using audio files to enhance written company and job descriptions.
“Recruiting is evolving,” said Chris Russell, president and founder of Jobs in Pods, a jobcast outsourcing company. “Today’s workforce, coming out of school, is used to this technology: They’re on Facebook every day, they’re on YouTube, they read blogs, they listen to podcasts on their iPods. If you can talk to them in the kind of medium they’re comfortable with, that will go a long way towards them seeing you as an employer of choice.”
According to new research, podcasts, which are digital audio files that can be streamed online or downloaded to an audio player, are becoming increasingly popular. One study found the podcast audience is doubling every three to four months, while another predicted almost 60 million people will tune in by 2010. Research by eMarketer found 30 percent of those listening are between the ages of 18 and 24, while half are 35 to 54 years old.
When applied to the business realm, podcasts can offer job seekers a general overview of the company or they can specifically target one area or job that needs filling. Either way, jobcasts provide candidates with a more personalized look into corporations’ cultures, Russell said.
“By podcasting, you’re really bringing your job to life; you’re humanizing your company,” he said. “It really lets you connect with that job seeker on a higher level, on a one-to-one level and engage him on his own turf.”
A jobcast also has the potential to communicate a company’s initiatives more effectively than a paper description. For example, when a particular utility company wanted to recruit more women, Russell said, it featured one of its female technicians in its audio clip, capturing her experiences and opinions in her own words.
“We always encourage employers to get their regular employees involved,” Russell said. “We don’t want to talk to just the HR manager or recruiter; we want to talk to people in the positions they’re hiring for. That really will give job seekers a sense of what it’s like to work at that job.”
While Microsoft and Accenture have been podcasting in-house since 2005, many talent managers don’t have the time or technology familiarity to do that, Russell said. So he created Jobs in Pods, which produces a variety of seven- to 10-minute audio clips for AT&T, Verizon, Intel, ZoomInfo, Exempla Healthcare, Veer and several Colorado-area businesses.
Clients are provided with a digital audio file to include on their corporate Web sites, while the clip also is maintained for one year on jobsinpods.com, the vendor’s search-engine-friendly blog. Additionally, it’s posted on other podcast directories, such as podcast.com and PodcastAlley.com, as well as on iTunes.
The return on investment still is being calculated, but one case study showed an increased number of applicants for the position advertised and an average cost of about 20 cents per listen, Russell said.
AT&T began podcasting in August 2007, and its first clip garnered 120 clicks — which led to applications — in its first week, said Chris Hoyt, associate director of recruiting for AT&T. The company has since produced jobcasts ranging from general overviews to need-specific pitches, such as those targeting bilingual consultants or military-friendly positions.
“As a 2.0 company, it just seemed logical to embrace the technology that ultimately means communicating and networking and touching people,” Hoyt said. “A lot of times people think if they drop their application online, it’s like dropping it in a big black box — they’re not really sure if anybody ever looks at it. This was a successful way for us to put a voice on some of our recruiters out there in the field.”
Indeed, many organizations are looking at jobcasting as a way to combat the “impersonal” feel of large corporations and to make their businesses seem more accessible — an important factor for socially active and connected young employees. For this reason, Fortune 500 companies have expressed the most interest in the practice thus far, Russell said.
“Overall, though, it’s good for any kind of company and any kind of job,” he said. “Whenever you can humanize yourself and get people to listen to you rather than just reading something on the Web site, it’s definitely much more engaging.”