Four Required Recruiting Tools

Here we are in 2008, soon to be 2009, and almost a decade into the 21st century. The Internet is maturing: it’s been around for ordinary people to use for almost 15 years and has already earned its place as a technology and a social movement as important as electricity.

Most recruiters, corporate or agency, have finally developed career sites and use the Internet for attracting, sourcing, and communicating with candidates and clients. The website is the bedrock of an effective recruiting practice, and while it may still be possible in local or niche markets to avoid it, for mainstream and volume recruiting a website is essential. In this article I am assuming you already have a decent website that has interactivity, video, audio, and other graphic material and updates frequently. That is old news.

But, to get a jump on your competition and to attract the savviest candidates, it takes more than a good website and good recruiting skills. Here are four essential tools for success.

Tool #1: Facebook or MySpace

You should have a personal and a corporate presence on a social network. I have only listed Facebook and MySpace because they represent the largest share of the social networking world in the United States and a significant percentage outside the U.S. If your organization has global operations and recruiting needs, then there are networks for China, India, and many other places that you should also consider.

College students and most other young professionals turn to these networks for information about you, to ask their friends about you, or to join a community of practice that you have created.

IBM DB2 developers have a Facebook community developed and maintained by IBM. KPMG in South Africa has developed a Facebook page to attract and communicate with potential candidates.

The U.S. Army, faced with massive recruiting challenges, has numerous Facebook and MySpace pages. Some of the pages act as testimonials or provide videos of real people talking about why they joined the Army. Other pages are focused on fun experiences such as simulations of driving a tank or on gaming.

However you use these networks, you will be exposing your brand to thousands of potential candidates who, at least to some degree, will judge their potential work experience by the quality of the content. That’s why these pages have to be done thoughtfully and have to connect to the type of viewer and what they are expecting to see and hear.

Tool #2: LinkedIn

I separate LinkedIn from Facebook and MySpace because it is not really a “social” network so much as a simple way to link people who know each other together in a web of interconnections. These interconnections can be useful when they are leveraged well, and LinkedIn has developed special applications for recruiters.

You should all get a copy of Bill Vick’s excellent guide to using LinkedIn for recruiting. LinkedIn allows you to build a network of people who know you and each other. By working to populate this network with the kinds of people who you either would like to recruit or who can help you find those you can recruit, you can leverage your success many times over.

And by learning methods such as those taught by Shally Steckerl you can use LinkedIn as a structured, searchable database of potential candidates.

LinkedIn is a versatile tool and can be used for marketing, search, and connecting. This is what makes it as essential tool for your toolbox.

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Tool #3: Your Personal Blog

Developing a blog puts you ahead of almost all other recruiters by building your brand and your organization’s brand. Blogs have become the most authentic course of information for candidates. They like to read the personal stories and hear about your organization from your perspective.

Most candidates are wary of official corporate career sites because they realize how controlled these sites are and they understand that a public relations expert wrote the copy. What candidates are hungry for is authenticity and personality. And this is what blogs have in abundance.

Yet, every time I tell recruiters to create a blog I hear groans and complaints. I hear things such as, “My organization won’t allow us to blog.” Or, “I don’t have time.” Or, “No one can read all the blogs that are out there.”

While I can’t do much to help you overcome internal organizational bans of recruiting blogs, I can suggest you think about creating a personal blog outside of work that can build your brand and help you source good candidates.

Blogs can be updated once a week or so and entries can be quite short. Good blogs keep each posting to a single idea and add pictures or video to maintain interest. Devoting an hour or two a week to a blog is far more useful than spending that time pouring over unsolicited resumes or cold calling.

Tool #4: Twitter

Twitter is the most recent and least understood of these tools. It is a mini-blogging tool that allows you to write 140 characters at a time and send the message to a candidate’s mobile phone or website as a message or as an SMS. Over 2 million people have Twitter accounts and the number is growing very fast. Twitter can be used in a variety of ways to improve the recruiting experience and as a sourcing tool.

Jason Whitman from IT.Toolbox has written a few blogs pointing out ways Twitter is being used as a sourcing tool. Art’s Blog from Bullhorn, a major supplier of recruiting software for the agency world, also gives some ideas of ways to use Twitter for recruiting.

Use Twitter to push out job announcements to potential candidates, stay connected to a special group of people, or keep those top candidates in the loop. It’s free and easy to use. And, because so few are actually using it, you will have a real advantage for a while over everyone who is isn’t using it.

Staying current is never easy, but at least it can be fun. Experiment, play, and see where these tools take you. I think you will like where you end up.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.

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10 Comments on “Four Required Recruiting Tools

  1. I always hear mixed reviews on the effectiveness of these networking tools. Other than dabbling on Linked In, I don’t have much experience sourcing from these sites. Can anyone provide some real metrics as to the number of placements that these sites have provided for your organization?

  2. I know this is off on a tangent, and I don’t mean to damper your enthusiums but I gotta stick up for electricity! I mean, the Internet…already earned its place as a technology and a social movement as important as electricity. My man, come on! I live in a cold weather state with hot humid summers and without electricity I’d be spending much of my time trying to stay warm or languishing in scorching heat. There would be no computers, in fact we’d be reading by candlelight! No electric guitars – take me now, what kind of world would that be?

    I could go on and on but I trust you get the point. Of course the Internet is cool but it pales in comparison to electricity. (And I don’t even work for a power company!).

  3. Yes, let’s see some metrics. Everyone can write all they want about Twitter and MySpace and say they’re a great tool, but who has proof? Does the Army have any quantifiable metrics on who they’ve recruited from Facebook? Does Sprint-Nextel know who they’ve hired using Twitter? It almost seems like we (recruiting bloggers) waste even more time talking about these “tools” than actually making placements or hires from them.

  4. I agree. Show us what’s worked, and how they measured it. I’ve done a lot of research in this space, and have only once heard anyone say they’ve made hires. That’s Ernst and Young. They seem to be very active, but invest a lot of time. Who else has success, and what did they do? We want to be out there, but can’t really justify the returns.

  5. 2 million Twitter accounts @ 100% usage would be under .6% of the US population. Daily users probably account for a third or less of accounts, so you may have fewer than 2/10 of a percent total users, not counting demographics, which probably take you somewhere in the order of .005% candidates as prime Twitter targets across the economy. Even in high-tech, you are going to be in the few % range at best.

    Twitter is a great name, a great idea, and a great brand, but like Kleenex and Coke, there are other SMS tools around and there will be more, not to mention the hundreds of status tickers running on various sites. I think most ATS and Web2.0 sites will provide seamless SMS features as parts of their offerings, and this may include some kind of aggregation of tickers.

    Inevitibly people will maintain fairly standardized kinds of online personae to deal with the world, and to be dealt with by the world. Scary for some, opportunity for others, but its happening as we speak; LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are ancestors already many times over.

  6. Mr. Wheeler is spot on in his assessment, these are the current tools in a searcher’s arsenal. I just came back from a conference and talked to several people that have had hiring success with LinkedIn. Recruiters who use the LinkedIn Recruiter product seem to be seeing a definite ROI. When I asked about the continued request for metrics, many of them said they were fine with others not jumping on the LI bandwagon, it left more candidates for them to work with.

    And as for Facebook, MySpace, etc. They are useful – I was amazed at all the potential they hold when I helped research a course at my current employer on how to use these virtual world sourcing sites. MySpace in particular you can XRay by job title and find potential candidates. Granted you may find more than you bargained for, but that’s part of it, fortunately or unfortunately.

    Twitter, I’m a fan and regular user for the last 6 months. You can search the site, like you would user groups, search by expertise like “ruby on rails” or again XRay it and search on keyword (not just job title). Twitter is good for relationship building and exponentially expanding your talent base. And when you develop advanced searches to FlipSearch the site – you get nice results as well.

    And these sites are just the tip of the iceberg, they all have competitors jockeying for online users, so that increases where you can find people.

  7. Kevin get’s it partial credit for a good post. Yes these are great tools…

    The problem is with what most assume the definition of “tool” is versus what many of these items are: social media.

    Social media isn’t just about marketing (or sales). If it was it would merely be a tool. Traditional marketing (or sales) is approached by recruiters as a way of finding people and TELLING THEM WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO HEAR. Blogs, who’s “comments” sections are sparse these days, and Linkedin are of this type (although there are some new offerings).

    Social media is about a CONVERSATION between two parties. Most recruiters aren’t intersted or know what they have to offer (besides an opportunity or their corporate brand). You can’t effectively use Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Plurk etc. if you just want to broadcast your message.

    Why use social media then? Because you are committed to building a community (maybe it’s with recruiters or a particular industry or a specific skill set) and will CONTRIBUTE to the conversation, not just “hit it” and give nothing in return.

  8. I completely agree, all these tools are effective and proved to be a must to use, however, I would like to particularly highlight the importance of a personal blog – it should be regularly updated with all the recent news and current offers of the company and the events that are due to take place.

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