A little background here: I’ve been searching the Internet for candidates since the dark ages, aka 1997. I became a social media sourcing devotee in 2008 when I was researching how to leverage all of the new sites popping up on the horizon. When I left the vendor world and returned to sourcing for a retained search firm during the great recession, I was determined to get a high volume of hires from free or nominal cost sites. I’m probably jaded. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of using the Internet to interact with candidates and make hires.
One of the things I’ve found over time is that the more accessible I am, the more successful this process has the potential to be. I build profiles, I post jobs, I link, I connect. I have a respectable photo and try to not just be all about work when I’m online. I think candidates appreciate having jobs come to them, and I know I appreciate candidates connecting with me before I have that ideal job for them.
When I started, I didn’t think about being the brand or being a brand. I just thought, “I need to have the candidates find me the same way I like to be able to find them.” I admit I had more of a comfort level on business oriented sites versus more personally oriented sites, and early on I drew a line in the sand regarding Facebook. I think you should have a comfort level with the sites you join and set boundaries.
Why is any of this important? A few weeks ago I had an HR Manager here in D.C. reach out to me with the question of “How do I get started on social media?” I searched her name and found an aged LinkedIn profile. The company she worked for wasn’t even on LinkedIn and it would be a great company to be on LinkedIn. I told her that I knew her candidates were there; I had sourced them for other organizations, so it was the perfect place to start. I’m thinking this is easy. I’m also thinking this HR Manager is probably my age, she’s seen the Internet and social media evolve and sidestepped it as a recruiting source, and now is a fabulous time to get on board. Up to now she chose to spend time posting on niche sites and avoiding the big job boards. The logic? To avoid being inundated with responses.
That was new to me. I live for high response and engagement. There’s automation that can help with notifying candidates and if you manage your time well, it is possible to respond—via phone or email or text—to anyone who reaches out to you.
My first directive was to make herself findable. Choose to build a LinkedIn profile and include a photo. We went back and forth on this. She didn’t want to take the time to update her profile. Or craft a company page. Why? Because of the time involved. Hmmmm. Digging a little deeper she didn’t really want to have candidates finding her and asking about jobs. Hmmmm. She really wants them to apply through a traditional posting process. I’m starting to think she doesn’t really want to do this social media thing. And I said that. So I asked, what do you really want to do? And she really just wanted a recommendation on a couple of job boards she could use to get more candidates but not turn on a fire hose.
And I’m not judging—I’m disappointed. Actively recruiting online is not for everyone. I think it’s a pretty economical option that, with the right tools and plan, you can use efficiently and not have it be a time suck on your day. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun to build from ground zero. Will my HR Manager friend ever embrace recruiting online? Maybe… with baby steps.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.