May 18, 2011 1 Comment
Christoph Athanas asked a great question on metaHR back in April: Is Social Media Recruiting still being hyped or already producing real profits? According to the Gartner Hype Cycle he presented three theses: Social Media Recruiting either approaching the “Peak of Inflated Expectations”, the “Trough of Disillusionment” or the “Slope of Enlightenment”. While some people followed only one of these options, others – including me – were hesitating when it came to simplifying the overall assessment of this question.
I would speak of hype whenever the major bloggers/players in external Employer Branding Consulting place “best practices”. It appears mostly as preparation of the market for their services. Companies following this hype without reflecting thoroughly on their future Social Media Recruiting needs and activities will find themselves disillusioned – especially compared to major brands. The third group are companies with attractive products and/or a supporting “cultural framework” (to be found in eCommerce, IT sector, etc.). Social Media Recruiting might feel more natural for them and also for their target groups.
So it is not that easy to proclaim that Social Media Recruiting might just work well for every company under any circumstances. The approach of people in HR/ Recruiting/ Employer Branding towards Social Media should be individual, well-informed and well-planned.
After having identified the suitable target group of prospective employees, the next step should not be to start thinking about how you could communicate with them. You are not the target group. You do not know! Of course you might possess studies about Generation Y, telling you to approach these young people in the web. Maybe you work closely with agencies providing ideas on what to do and the kind of messages to send. But these sources are not sufficient! Imagine you are a supplier for automotive companies desperately looking for female employees. So what would you do? Maybe you would create a visual for this very target group as shown in this example. In my opinion, this idea could go terribly wrong. How would you feel being addressed on basis of gender clichés? Would you consider this message to be an appropriate way to attract you to this company as employer of choice?
You should identify needs, interests and habits of your target group. And you should do that as thoroughly as possible. Are future Investment Bankers looking for a job on Facebook? Or might it be a better idea to address them on career fairs with focus on Finance?
Recently, Henner Knabenreich presented the results of a study about “Career + Social Networks” on both PR-Blogger and personalmarketing2null. Most of the respondents used Facebook regularly in private life, so one could argue that it might be a good idea to approach candidates on this platform. It is only half the truth, though. When it comes to the students’ habits, they are primarily using the careers website to learn more about a potential employer. Moreover, they prefer personal contact, and still print media, online job portals, employer rankings and career fairs to private as well as business-focused social networks.
Are companies overestimating the online affinity of their target groups? In my opinion, they do not. But companies lack two things: (a) students that are well-informed about the possibilities they have in the social web to learn more about a potential employer and (b) reasons for the target group to approach the company’s Social Media profiles.
(a) On 11 May I was invited as a speaker to Jobmeeting Torino for the “Personal Branding Live Act”. Italian students had the opportunity to experience first-hand how they could put the Social Web to use, becoming visible to and learning more about potential employers. They were pretty much irritated by all the possibilities to get in touch with employers – be it on professional networks or on Facebook. But why should they use a business network without having a job first? Why should they look for careers pages on Facebook – a private platform where they fear the risk of recruiters screening their profiles? It is still a long way to go until the majority of students in Germany, Italy and probably additional European countries will really start using the social web in a natural manner to get in touch with employers, aside from specific jobs and industries.
(b) For one week, Andrew Blakeley exposed himself to all the brands that asked him to like them on Facebook (must-read!). This is how he describes the essence of this experiment: “As social networks slowly become the default online presence for brands to drive their consumers to, adverts, marketing and packaging has started telling us where to go. However, it hasn’t yet started telling us why to go there.” Andrew also discovered that great content on several sites just did not get the attention it deserved. His ultimate tip for brand managers is very simple: “Consider telling them why” – without a reason people would not bother following your Social Media activities. Nina Kalmeyer and I agreed that this observation also applies to potential employees and careers pages on Facebook.
- Get to know your target group first: You are the ones to define it as close as possible to your company’s specific needs. Start your own research!
(for some hints you can also stick to the study mentioned earlier)
- Based on this research, does it make sense at all to use Social Media as one element in your HR marketing mix?
- If so, what can you realistically offer to the target group? What is the value added to follow your activities?
- And when you finally arrive at this point, you might start to push the idea of Social Media Recruiting within your company.