At its heart, recruitment is all about communication between organizations and people, that is, a process of communication and relationship building that leads to an eventual hire. How we communicate has changed dramatically over the past two decades; we can now reach a wide audience of professional and personal connections with an immediacy that would have been mind-boggling 20 years ago! These dramatic shifts have had a big impact on business roles that need to communicate with the wider public.
The "dinosaur" recruiters advertising on job boards online may not see the comet coming to drive them to extinction, but it's certainly on its way. There are whole groups of potential high-performing, highly-skilled employees hanging out with their friends and peers on different social networks. If you're looking to recruit a graduate, it's quite likely that if you're successful in reaching just a few in this demographic, then these few will also be connected to quite a large network of other graduates, all in the same city or town.
Similarly, if you're looking to recruit a senior IT professional, it's quite likely that if you're successful in tapping into one senior IT worker's network, then you've reached a larger group of people with similar experience and in your target location. That's not to say that job boards have no purpose, but you're reaching a relatively small audience of people actively searching these boards for their next job. Let's leave the dinosaurs to congregate in the one spot while we explore other, more hospitable environments for survival as a recruiter.
You are no doubt responsible for recruiting for many different types of roles, and reaching the right candidates means using the most appropriate platform: that may be through Facebook for graduates, LinkedIn for mid-career professionals, Meetup for professional specialties in short supply, or Yammer for internal candidates.
If your company has an online presence and employees who are active on social media, then you have an easy result…or do you?
For many senior managers, it's not good enough to delegate to those employees with the skills to engage successfully through social media: communication and relationship building for recruitment needs to be completely aligned to HR's recruitment strategy in order to achieve the business goals. Otherwise, we're all just sitting around laughing at grumpy cats together.
In this chapter, you're going to navigate your way through social networking platforms to find and connect with different communities. Once you've mastered the art of finding communities across multiple platforms as an individual, it will be simple to translate this to an organizational strategy to find and connect with your potential hires in their own communities.
Have you noticed the ease with which some people take to the digital world? They're the ones tweeting on the bus to work, communicating with friends and colleagues through social networks and finding an intrinsic value in their time spent online. These social mavens may be using Yammer internally within an organization to engage in conversations that drive their work forward; they might be using Twitter to share and find links to useful work-related articles; they may volunteer as a community coordinator for a group's Facebook page; or they may successfully leverage LinkedIn's posts and conversation threads to engage with their professional network.
You may recognize a gap between your own capability as the HR or Recruiting Manager who needs to execute your hiring strategy and the social networking expertise of the social mavens in your organization. If this is the case, you can build the capability to connect a recruitment strategy with these online communication channels through a mentor.
Mentoring is an ideal way to build new skills, and the skills required for navigating social networks are best learned in a person-to-person way in this kind of trusted learning environment.
If your organization uses Yammer, it becomes quite easy to identify a potential mentor. You can use the Yammer leaderboard to identify people who are active on this enterprise microblogging platform, and once you've followed them, you can start to pick out who are the good role models you'd like to learn from. They may even refer to their activity on external social networking platforms such as their blogs or their Twitter feed. This helps identify those social mavens with the skills and experience you can learn from.
Type the name (or Twitter handle if you know it) of a few of your likely mentors into a free tool such as Klout.com and gauge their influence.
Another approach is to connect with your company's LinkedIn groups. If you haven't already, now is a good time to set up your LinkedIn profile. When you log in, you'll find that the platform is quite good at suggesting "groups you may like", which will include fellow employees. Once you're connected to fellow employees, you'll notice your feed showing posts by colleagues actively participating in discussions. It becomes easy to identify who is an active and positive participant in valuable discussions on this professional networking platform.
Yet another good way to find your mentor is to approach your graduate program employees to find whether they have a Facebook or LinkedIn group that they use to connect with each other. I expect you'll find they'll be pleased to have you join their community where you'll have the opportunity to interact with and observe the most active participants.
Your selected mentor will hopefully provide you with excellent learning opportunities as you build your confidence in navigating social networks. Later in the book, we'll be using these same strategies to identify influencers and active community members to drive your recruitment strategy.
Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to learn how to swim from an instruction manual: can you picture the poor sap jumping into the pool, only to find that those first few seconds underwater where they feel like they're drowning aren't adequately covered in the how-to guide. When you first start seeing the volume of information flowing from an information-sharing platform such as Twitter, it can feel a lot like drowning. We'll now take some time to build your expertise in making sense of the information deluge that you'll get from Twitter. Your expertise will then be put to good use in working out how to reach your potential candidates who likewise are paddling in a river of information of Amazonian proportions.
Let's work out what kind of commitment you can make: can you devote 10 minutes of your daily morning commute over a two month period? Or, will it be easier to find 10 minutes on the iPad at the end of each work day?
However you can find this time, there's great benefit in setting aside regular small chunks of time to find your way on Twitter's microblogging platform. Along the way, we'll build a better understanding of the principles behind social networks and start to form a view of the approaches that will translate from a personal strategy to an organizational approach.
We're going to take a staged approach to build your level of comfort and limit your exposure to the wider online world until you're ready. The stages we'll go through are to firstly listen to a few people, then to speak out to the Twitterverse, and finally to engage in a conversation with a wider group of people on Twitter:
Day 1: Set up your Twitter account at twitter.com. Remember that your bio is your business card. In 160 characters, you need to establish your identity as a real person (not a spambot) and provide a guide to your interests. Don't forget the photo!
Weeks 1 – 2: Discover interesting people to follow—this is the fun bit! Follow recruitment thought leaders, politicians, comedians, and colleagues; basically anyone you might find interesting. This will set you up to understand how to make sense of the huge volume of information across multiple subjects that will flow to you through Twitter.
Make a note
Using Twitter apps such as TweetDeck or HootSuite will make Twitter much easier to navigate. You can categorize information into meaningful groups; for example, I like to see a stream of information for professional interests, a stream for colleagues, and another stream for local news.
Weeks 3 – 4: Retweet an interesting and useful post each day. Do this consistently and with good judgment, and at this stage, you may find you're starting to gather followers. Continue to find new people to follow.
Weeks 5 – 6: Build lists to structure the information flowing into your Twitter feed, and use hashtags to find more interesting information. Continue to retweet each day.
Weeks 7 – 8: Reply to a tweet that catches your eye; you might answer a question that's been posed or add your comment to a statement. Tweet a link to an article you've found outside of Twitter, which may be an online newspaper or professional article. Continue to retweet each day.
Week 9 and beyond: Aim to find a balance of retweets and original tweets. Start to engage with other Twitter users through replies to other tweets.
You should find you're now following a variety of topics and finding ways to make sense of the flow of information. Over time, you'll have built a flow of information that's valuable to you through following new people, unfollowing hashtags that aren't useful any longer, and connecting to groups of people online.
Now that you're on your way to mastering the Twitterverse, let's take a look at how communities come together on social networking sites. Once you've found your own way to find the communities you'd like to be part of, you'll have developed an understanding of what holds diverse communities together; you'll then be able to apply this to build a community around your organization's brand.
So, let's find your communities, those groups of like-minded individuals you'd like to connect with in your personal and professional life. Are you a new mum? A commuter cycling to work each day? A football fan? A photography enthusiast? Whatever you're in to, there's a community online to feed your personal and professional interests. As we'll discover, the ways that you find and connect with your community are the ways your recruitment strategy will seek to engage with potential employees.
Here are some ways to find your community:
Twitter hashtags: Hashtags are a way people categorize their Twitter posts, linking it to other posts in the same category. For example, the hash tag #careeradvice is used by many recruiters with followers who are actively looking for work. If you see a few posts from an interesting Twitter user, you can navigate their network to see who they follow to find some more interesting people.
Meetup.com: Strangely enough, this online platform is an ideal way to connect in real life with like-minded individuals in a specific geographic area. For example, I'm passionate about software development practices, so I've searched for this along with my home town and I've connected with a great group of people with a shared interest.
Blogs: Some people are amazingly generous with their time providing regular, thoughtful web blog entries; the challenge is to find these people's blogs among the chaff of inane and badly written blogs that are out there. For example, if you're a keen cyclist doing a regular commute and you do an Internet search for "blogs", "cycling", and "commute", you'll find some blogs of varying quality. Once you've found a blog you like, you may find they reference other good quality blogs.
Yammer groups: If your organization uses Yammer, you have a ready-made community with your colleagues. For example, you may find that a Yammer group already exists for fellow football fans, or you may need to start a group where people discuss the sport and their favorite teams.
You may notice we've been using a search to find someone interesting, then navigating through their publicly-known social network to find more people with a similar interest. This means we're quickly finding people who are worth listening to rather than just searching online against keywords. The people we find interesting are more likely to connect with other people we'd also be interested in.
This principle applies to recruiting for different roles, since most of your target employees aren't following your company's digital presence, and they may not even be actively looking for a job. Finding and connecting to your target candidates, who may not be actively looking for work, becomes a matter of finding and connecting to the right communities.
As you can see, there are a lot of new environments to play in if you're involved in recruitment right now. In this chapter, you've looked at how to find the social mavens in your organization and how to identify a suitable mentor. You've taken the first steps to finding your voice on Twitter and you've navigated different social networking platforms to connect to some very different communities online. Hopefully, your mentoring relationship is supporting you through your efforts to become a digital native.
Later in the book, you'll build on the understanding and strategies you've applied here to find your own community to do the same to find your target employees. You'll also look at how to build your own community around an employer brand that encourages and builds a strong relationship between a potential candidate and the organization. If you can build an online relationship with your target candidates, it's much the same as other social situations; they'll be much more receptive to your recruitment message if you already have a relationship together.