Friday, January 15, 2010

Social networking - Have a strategy!

Recruitment consultants. Don't you just love em'?
Along with a number of other professions, a significant number of them have always acted in a roguish manner and are arguably responsible for the reputation that we all "enjoy" today. You reap what you sew and all that. Since time began there has been a recognition of sharp practice. Now from many, it's a knee jerk leap into social networking as the one big answer to the recession.

It's been a head long rush into social networking, be it linkedin, twitter and any number of other "must haves" in a way the biggest children's toy at Christmas gets hyped to the rafters by the media and retailers. There is almost a whiff of paranoia from some recruiters who are in fear of being left behind and are moving into this space with absolutely no strategy or forethought.

A blind panic into the minefield of social networking seems fraught with dangers. If an army of marketers in some of the most prestigious blue chips still don't have it cracked for their brands, then it's probably a fair bet that the world of recruitment hasn't either.

Don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting for one minute that this is an area we should not be embracing. Of course we should. It would be preposterous to suggest otherwise. It's just that I think such a wide ranging and instant communication tool deserves a bit more thought. Social networking / media should just be integrated as part of a bigger picture not the latest strategy! I sense for some, because business has been such a "challenge" for the last year or so then this must be the obvious answer.

Such a train of thought would be completely missing the point and far too simplistic!
Social networking and other forms of technology and media are taking on increased significance in the world of recruitment for two reasons that come to my mind. (amongst many others!)

1. Technological advance - the internet has now gone on to the next level and everyone, not just recruiters, are playing catch up. It's only right that we should be active in this space too.

2. The recruitment industry has accelerated the use of social networking in the job search process as opposed to it evolving, because of the poor practices and service levels previously offered. Candidates and clients have now realised that they can talk to each other without the hassle of dealing with someone else who offers little in any value added service.

So where does that leave us?

It means it's time for the "purveyors of CVs" to exit stage left. It means it's time for the volume merchants to choose another activity to fill their time and their pockets.

It means that I think we need to remember that clients and candidates want less a "supplier" that throws CVs at a resourcing problem, much more a "partner" that can bring real insight and meaning to the process through our knowledge and skills, enabling them to hire the best people they possibly can.

So how does this all come back to social networking?

Well it does and it doesn't - because my point is not everything has to! I realise this might prove a controversial statement on a social networking site and likely to annoy some, but it's not my intention.

Social networking will only enhance your business model if the following check list is taken seriously - or at the very least, considered....

1) Remember at all times that you need to build genuine relationships with clients and candidates. Demonstrate to them you are in it for the long haul. Don't let social networking become anti-social and act as a barrier or replacement for meeting up with candidates and clients.

2) Your on line presence and tone of voice is consistent with your overall business proposition. What do you actually stand for and represent, other than just placing people into jobs?

3) Employ some marketing expertise. This could be as an internal resource or consultancy basis, dependent on how much marketing knowledge you have within the organisation.

4) Be clear what you actually want to say! Don't just tweet just because it seems the done thing and is in vogue.

5) Don't play the numbers game! The days of quantity over quality are coming to an end. Deal with it. And focus on quality. You only need one candidate to fill one job!

6) Structure the business to be responsive and agile for what will work best for your clients - don't keep the structure you have just because that's the way it's always been.


  1. Andy,

    Just wanted to say I agree with your media/social recruiting is not there to replace existing recruiting! There first must be the recruitment fundamentals in place before you then start adding in social media channels - they after just another channel after all!
    The only point being that candidates are expectant that companies have some form of social media channel, that they can engage with.

  2. Thanks for that Andy - I do wish more recruiters would embrace those fundamentals you refer to. I went to a social networking gathering a couple of weeks ago and was scared witless by the calibre of some of the attendees!