Some Thoughts on Blogs and Networks

I read around 50 blogs on a regular basis and find myself scanning more and more of them. They are replacing newspapers and even magazines as a source of information. Some blogs are taking over the product review business and give you and me the chance to express our candid opinions about products and services we use.

This means that, eventually, blogs will comment on your recruiting process, your career site, and even on how people were treated when interviewed by your organization. They bring what used to be private, or at least fairly contained, to a much wider audience. Hence their power and their potential to do harm.

Right now, most blogs focus around a topic or profession. For example, the majority of recruiting blogs are written for fellow recruiters with only a handful aimed at candidates or potential candidates.

When you think about that, it really isn’t unusual, as the motivation people have to write blogs comes from a desire to share information or to state an opinion. It’s a bit of a shame, though, as blogs can also be powerful for marketing and influencing.

I always come back to Heather Hamilton at Microsoft who has been writing a blog to encourage people to apply for jobs at Microsoft for several years. She is a great marketer and subtly influences people to think about working at Microsoft. I think we need to see far more blogs on this type.

I know that recruiters face some real issues in getting their legal and marketing departments to agree to blogs, but the effort would be well spent. They can help avert negative publicity by addressing issues in a proactive way. They can promote what’s good about your organization and showcase opportunities. They are an authentic voice in the sea of marketing hype that most candidates have to plow through.

If you are writing a blog for your candidates or potential candidates, I would really like to know about it. I am going to do a column soon on how to get your blog approved, and I need any tips I can get.

On the Periphery

Most intriguing are the blogs that are on the periphery of recruiting but help us to better understand the people and issues we face in recruiting.

The best of the bunch is the blog by Penelope Trunk who has written the book Brazen Careerist. In that books she provides career advice to Gen Y and in doing so explores many of the myths and truths about both Gen X and Gen Y.

If you read the reviews on Amazon from readers of her book, you will quickly discover how controversial she is. Half the reviewers say she is full of you-know-what and the other half love her. As a Gen X writer herself, who focuses a lot on Gen Y and what they want from work and life that is different from what she wants, she opens up a Pandora’s box of issues that need talking about. Her open attitude and tell-it-like-it-is style make this a very refreshing book and blog.

Just about every recruiter I know is a member of a social network. Most likely, they have joined LinkedIn, as it has become the de facto social network for recruiting. It has the most business-oriented members and reaches a global membership.

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For recruiters focused on younger people and college students, Facebook and MySpace are popular choices. But these are only the tip of a very large iceberg. Wikipedia lists over 104 different social networks, but perhaps fewer than half are really suitable for recruiting purposes. These public networks are great for finding potential candidates but do not do much to help build relationships.

I have recently written about Ning, the site that allows you to create your own social network for anything. Ning was created by Marc Andreessen, who not so long ago created Netscape Navigator, a service that opened the Internet up to folks like you and me.

Ning has been an opportunity for several ERE readers to develop social networks for their candidates and employees and thus begin exploring how relationships can be fostered using networks. Ning, or sites like it, have the potential to revolutionize how we communicate and maintain relationships with candidates.

It is so easy to use that even I have created several networks. While Ning may not be the eventual platform of choice for recruiting, it opens the door to what is coming. You will see more and more networks being designed by the current ATS and HR software vendors and many organizations will also develop their own networks.

Recruiting is moving rapidly from a find ’em and screen ’em profession to a find them, court them, stay in touch with them, and sell them profession. These networks will power that change.

Marc, always at the very edge of change, is well aware of this and also has a blog where he discusses Ning, social networking, and the future of software and technology. It is not directly related to recruiting but it is well worth spending some time reading if you want to be on the leading edge.

Jason Corsello, an ex-analyst (if there is such a thing) and an executive with the Center of Excellence at Knowledge Infusion also writes a blog, The Human Capitalist. He explores talent management, talent-related software, software-as-a-service (SaaS), and a lot more. It is a well-written blog from a person with in-depth expertise in the human capital and talent management arena.

All new technologies arrive before we know how to best use them. We are in the experimental stages with both blogs and networks, and staying informed is very critical to eventually figuring out how to use them wisely. I hope these leads will be useful to you.

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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6 Comments on “Some Thoughts on Blogs and Networks

  1. I started writing a blog for recruiting purposes. Specifically for college recruitment of physical therapists and occupational therapists, in a heavily competitive environment. With the support of our blog coach Jim Durbin, we plowed through the approval process with our senior managers and have not looked back. Our Campus Relations team is having a great time writing new posts about all the events and students that we meet along the way! Check us out at college.rehabcare.com. Would be thrilled to hear your feedback.

  2. By the way — Penelope Trunk, who Kevin mentions in his article, is speaking at ERE’s conference next Spring (March 31-April 1-April 2) in San Diego. She’s going to be great!

  3. Barbara,

    Having your recruiters and other HR professionals blog about their hiring efforts is tremendously important to the candidates that we serve: Gen Y.

    A bunch of leading organizations, including T-Mobile, have chosen to post some or even most of their blog entries to the Insights by Employers Blog http://www.CollegeRecruiter.com/weblogs to help drive to the employer career sites a lot of additional candidates who are active enough to be using job boards but passive enough that they may not be familiar with your organization or have considered going to your site to read your blog.

  4. Kevin has done a great job identifying new tools to refresh an old (for some of us) approach to networking. I have referred to it as ‘spinning the web’.

    This is especially applicable in a large, comprehensive search model where the revenue stream can support the time, resources, and effort necessary to keep in touch across a wide and deep talent pool.

    However, many corporate recruiters are up to their elbows in reqs and all those people who apply for jobs. They may not have the time or desire to invest the time and energy to effect this methodology correctly. Build a social network and manage it poorly could be a kiss of death – ruin your own reputation or worse yet, harm your organization’s branding.

    Suspects, Prospects, Candidates, & Applicants can have elephant-like memories about how they were treated (or disregarded) during any interaction!

    And we all know that corporate recruiting budgets are straining under the pressure to do more with less!

    We’ve developed a program for corporate clients that enables them to enjoy the benefits of building and maintaining a pipeline or network at very low cost. Our ‘Strategic Reserve’ incorporates Talent ID, Sourcing and Relationship Management. Its design can reduce time to source and permit corporate recruiting operations to focus on high value activities and strategic CRM.

  5. I have been trying to take the ideas that I have found from comments here and the articles itself to create a blog for my professional career. It seems critical that people can find information that is real and often tells the real story. I certainly am trying to make mine a very useful blog to not only my network, but potential candidates for my organization as well as for my professional career.

    Let me know what you think.

    http://yourutahsoi.wordpress.com

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