Get Candidates Engaged

For several years I have been part of a virtual network called NextNow. It was founded and is stewarded by an eccentric ex-Sun Microsystems engineer who likes putting interesting people together.

It is for the most part virtual, except for the few locals. A handful of us get together maybe once a year and one of us always hosts visiting NextNow members from other places. From this network I have made connections and friends with people in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and elsewhere. Many I have never met but we correspond regularly and help each other with ideas and opinions.

This rather informal global network has resulted in friendships, book authorship, and the sharing of ideas and cultures. It could easily be used as a recruiting source.

These networks are the key to 21st century business success. A quick search on Amazon reveals more than 50 recent books in some way discussing networks and how they can be used to make money, hire people, manage projects, coordinate systems, and understand the world. We have awoken to the fact that everything that happens is the cause or result of an interaction with someone else.

While many networks are face-to-face, in a widely dispersed global environment, technology is becoming the means by which these networks are put together and it is through them that relationships form. In fact, networks build relationships as in my NextNow group.

It is interesting to think that the reason social networks have grown so much over the past five years is because of the fundamental technology that makes them possible: the Internet. Technology in the 21st century is not just a tool to manage information; rather, it is a tool to create and channel relationships between people, between businesses, and between employees.

What is hard for most of us to grasp is that relationships don’t have to be face-to-face. What is happening is that relationships are moving to cyberspace. Whether we are using blogs, Twitter, chat rooms, email, or instant messaging, we are creating or maintaining a relationship. Most young people are quite comfortable using virtual networks, and the most effective recruiting sites are likely to be interactive and focus on relationship-building.

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Successful and truly value-added uses of recruiting technology have almost nothing to do with information storage, sorting, searching, or retrieval. Instead, the real value lies in using the technology to facilitate communication with prospective candidates, to educate, sell, and screen them and to build global networks of contacts and prospects.

Ideally, a prospective candidate is attracted to your career site and is enticed by its engaging and interactive content. The U.S. Army has learned this and has created an interactive and fun (if you are between 17 and 25, at least) career site that has gained attention. Engaging candidates and getting them to explore what you have to offer is getting more sophisticated and complex all the time. Simple, one-dimensional and static career sites are not going to attract or keep the best candidates.

If the candidate finds nothing of interest, or if the design is boring, the candidate will be gone. Your career site really had to be a social network that offers information in the form of videos, blogs, and chat rooms. It needs interactivity, fun content, and useful, authentic information.

Throughout this process, there has been no face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact with the candidate, although these options could be made available easily using webcams and VOIP. What is defining here is that the candidate is no longer passive but is being invited to participate and interact with your site. The candidate is placed in control of what she sees and where she goes and what she chooses or does not choose to do.

Here are five ways to build Web 2.0 into your career site:

  1. Move from a career site to a social network. Turn your career site into a social network by using tools such as Ning to create one, or engaging the services of an organization such as Standout Jobs that specializes in recruiting networks. This will automatically give you many of the features I describe.
  2. Write a blog. Blogging is a powerful way to keep prospective candidates coming back and continue to develop the relationship they begin to establish. Even though we have been blogging for years, only a handful of recruiting sites have a blog aimed at candidates. The most well-known is Heather Hamilton’s at Microsoft. Most of us have let legal issues and the difficulty to overcome internal bureaucratic processes to stifle the use of this potentially excellent communication and relationship-building tool.
  3. Create a chat room. Chat rooms should be built into sites so that candidates and recruiters can have ongoing discussions. Recruiters should spend more time building traffic in the chat rooms by offering seminars on what the company does, profiling various jobs by having someone who does that job answer questions in the chat room.
  4. Hold webinars. Periodic online seminars or webinars can be used to build traffic and create some opportunities for people to learn what your organization does and how they might fit into it. There are a number of webinar firms that offer inexpensive software that you could harness for this purpose. These can be recorded and offered later as podcasts.
  5. Hold a contest. Promoting contests and games can also be a useful way to generate excitement and build relationships. People respond to trivia games, contests, and online mini-surveys. They like the instant feedback and the ability to do something rather than just read. These contests are also a way to get people to come back over and over again to your site. Each time they return is another opportunity to recruit them, or at least to have a conversation with them and keep them excited about your organization.

Rather than inhibit or get in the way of relationships, well-defined technology facilitates the creation of relationships and is an essential part of 21st century recruiting solutions.

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, 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


4 Comments on “Get Candidates Engaged

  1. When I signed up to receive these informative and job-enlightening articles in my email, I was hoping I would be getting some useful information. However, I have to admit that I’m done with these ERE articles as this one has really pushed me over the edge.

    How many generic internet networking articles by self-promoting blogging consultants before we say enough?
    Sure, I don’t have to read it…but, I’m posting this to suggest that we move on to some new topics. Please.

  2. I realize that, on the surface, Kevin’s list of five Web 2.0 tools may seem to be simply a list of cool features, but how you apply them will make all the difference in the world.

    We’ve all been through the discovery that gobs of Web traffic does not equal success. I think in the next two years we’ll also discover that gobs of interaction isn’t necessarily success either.

    The real value in social interaction is when the audience becomes truly engaged. Not just ‘engaged’… I said ‘truly engaged’. The ‘truly’ part comes when candidates think to themselves, ‘I’m really glad I found this site.’

    So maybe it’s not just a Webinar… Maybe it’s a virtual presentation for the most qualified applicants. Or maybe it’s a podcasts that demonstrates the right career conversations for hard-to-source professionals (with e-mail Q&A just to make it real Web 2.0).

    The key is that candidates can find fun anywhere. What they want from YOU is value toward their mission. Something that gives them an edge or helps them feel the high-touch of a satisfying engagement.

    Existing networks may also serve your needs better than building a social network of your own. Utilizing networks like LinkedIN, Facebook, or Plaxo as a means of staying connected with the best candidates will keep you from trying to boil the ocean.

    Most importantly, I think we all need to recognize that an article on ERE can?t provide the specific solution that will work for you and your business. The quality solutions are buried deep down beneath what seems to be the most repetitive droning. Web 2.0 solutions hold some real promise if we can think past the commonplace solutions at the surface.

  3. Joseph,

    I occasionally share your opinion, though encourage you to stay connected to ERE. It seems that about 1 in 5 articles pertains to the needs of the TPR, or the the working relationship between the TPR and Corporate Recruiters. That is a high enough ratio to keep you connected, and to provide you with new ideas.

    Granted, much of what appears here is self- promotion, or is derived from minutia-minded scholars, some of which have never actually recruited anyone, but do know a better way to do it. If nothing else, hang in for the articles by Lou Scott, and a few others who have made their living in the trenches. We cannot be reminded too many times how to do the basics of this business, and finer details, too.

  4. Joseph – Jim gives you good advice. In addition, regardless of whether the topics are always useful to me, I have to say it’s impressive that some of these folks can continue to produce articles so regularly. I couldn’t do it.

    And to give ERE their due, they did solicit articles recently in an effort to get more variety. Perhaps that should be done every other month!

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