#Socialrecruiting: It’s not for recruiters

Now this might seem a bit controversial, it’s not intended to be. I write this post on route to Romania, where i’m going to be working with Oracle brand advocates on content creation as well as the recruiting team for EMEA. I have been working with Oracle for a while. They are very open to being social and see the potential that building communities around fan pages will bring.As a result of this project, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to other corporate recruiters about how (or not), they do social, and I’m seeing a few recurring themes. The most common barriers being available time and targets to hire now!
The complication for all recruiters (and this is not dissimilar to any corporate and most agency recruiters that I have talked to), is time to work outside of anything other than the just-in-time recruiting model. Time pressures mean that recruiting activity is transactional. It’s get a job, find the candidates, fill the job and move on to the next job. Line managers demand hires yesterday, and the relationship needs to be hirer/potential recruit now, rather than potential recruit future. Time and business pressure dictates that it is this way.
Social activity is more about sourcing and broadcasting opportunities in the here and now than in the future. The recruiters job is to get people hired as quickly and effectively as possible, finding potential employees based on skills and experience and converting them in to employees. The job of the recruiter is the locator and the closer. More of a completer finisher than a relationship builder.
Does this mean then that I see social recruiting as wholly transactional?

Far from it. Social plays a massive part in building employer brand, pipelining the talent community and communicating with the world at large about what the company is really like to work for. Employees who develop social networks can provide access to potential employees with any opportunities that come up, acting as the introducer to the recruiter via referral. Employees take and tag pictures and video that says everything about the employer in a credible way, without needing any words or marketing spin. Employee content carries far more credibility than recruiter credibility. After all, a recruiter will always update that this is a great place to work, an employee will only share that if they really believe it.
There in lies the next challenge for corporate, getting people to post and comment freely. It’s not that they don’t want to, but it’s often a case from day one of employment that they have to follow strict rules contained in a brand manual, and get 3 different levels of permission, authority and approval before they can comment about the company or it’s products. Jump forward to this new age of social. Employees are asked to act responsibly towards confidentiality of business and people, courteous and respectful. The basic guidelines are to “Be a grown up.” And then it is up to them to post what and when they like. Any content (blog posts excepted) that take more than 10 minutes to create and tag is considered too manufactured. Content needs to be instant, real and ideally involving people. Once you open this up, and get over the early resistance then you are away.
Once the communities are building with plenty of connections building, people commenting and asking questions, then it’s time for the recruiters to get involved. the role of the recruiter at this point is to identify who could be looking for a job from their on-line behaviour and questions. Recruiters need to get applications and enquiries directly from the Facebook fan page and other social places. This is where the engagement becomes critical and the recruiters can use their skills to match the potential candidates. This might be come in for this job, or it might be stick around and stay in touch, there’s nothing now but I like the look of you. Alternatively it might be talk to this recruiter, they may be the right person for you to talk to. All of this kind of interaction is lost once a C.V. hits an A.T.S. in the traditional way.
All employees should be involved in the social part of recruiting, with the recruiters taking care of the transaction, in the most timely and efficient way.
What part do you think recruiters should play in social recruiting? Where do you think my thinking falls down?


7 comments on “#Socialrecruiting: It’s not for recruiters

  1. Great post Bill.

    This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long while, ever since I read a Glen Cathey post about JIT recruiting. My view is aligned with yours, but I think your headline is misleading. Social recruiting IS for recruiters because it CAN be used in a transactional way – critics will point to semantics, but words make a difference and I think we should be clear.

    Here’s another way to encapsulate it:

    1) Recruitment that you WANT to do (Social Recruiting – this is talent community, candidate engagement, employer branding)


    2) Recruitment that you HAVE to do (Just-In-Time, transactional, fill-a-hole type recruitment)

    The former is strategic, HR driven, has budget and C-level buy in. The latter is tactical, line manager driven, lacks budget and C-Level couldn’t give a monkeys.

    Social recruiting in your encapsulation applies to the former, Recruitment agencies and the old stuff works best for the latter. Ultimately it comes to Want vs Need.

    That’s my view – be interested in hearing from others!

    Best wishes


    PS: Send pics of Romania, and not necessarily of you…

  2. Great post Bill. If you have any kind of strategic responsibility for the sustained success of the organisation for whom you work, regardless of where you sit in the organisation, it is encumbent upon you to always be recruiting, even if you are not hiring for a specific vacancy.

    JIT recruitment models only exist because recruitment is too often a knee jerk reaction to an often unforeseen set of circumstances.

    How often is recruitment an integral part of the business planning process?

    How many organisations understand the triggers to hire in their organisation in order that they might meet the business goals?

    In my experience organisations are too inclined to react to a resignation or a big order with a sense of “lets go out and get” without any real in-depth resource planning, understanding of the timescales and effort required to source the talent they need or even thinking to look at what talent they might already have in – house.

    Social recruiting, if used in the right way, can really help to address these issues, if organisations are prepared to invest the time and create the conversations and content needed to develop a great social recruiting model.

    Social recruiting gives organisations the opportunity to build talent pools for the future. It gives organisations the opportunity to engage in conversation with potential future stars, to develop relationships that they can and should tap in to as and when required.

    Social recruiting provides the opportunity to build talent pipelines that prove invaluable to the organisation over time. Historically recruitment agencies were the only route to a readily available pool of talent. Now, if organisations are smart, they can reach that talent themselves.

    For sure there is more complexity to this and the issues are perhaps not quite as simple and rose tinted as I portray. I could ( but promise I won’t!! ) write more on this issue for it is an issue that fascinates me. I guess bottom line I couldn’t agree more with your views. Enjoy Romania and thanks for such a thought provoking and compelling post!


  3. Great post Bill. I understand your argument as to when the recruiter (in-house, I assume you mean) gets involved in the process, in the current age.

    However if this is the general feeling, then this has to change. In-house Recruiters are essential parts of the communication structure of a business, often with crucial responsibility, and with crucial external contacts – who as rightly pointed out – could be future employees.

    I see occasional good examples of internal recruiters using social media networking brilliantly to foster ongoing relationships with relevant industry talent, and nurture influencers to amplify the `need` section of a hiring cycle.

    Social Recruiting totally IS for recruiters – they are an employee too. But the key observation that I liked in Lee’s endorsement – is their role in the ongoing talent search. The strategy. When are they ever NOT recruiting – this answer should be “never”. Is this practiced? Maybe. Is this practiced social media? Rarely.

    I do it now as an `agency` recruiter. I follow 2000 people in my industry on Twitter avidly, and with structure – because one day, one of my clients might need one of them – and if I can do it without a job board – then I’m a happy chap. I just placed a role in 3 working days, because I knew my marketplace, the right talent, who was looking with the greatest commitment, got them interviews, 2nd interviews – and the job was done. Not one advert, tweet, or promotion, to fill the role. That’s how easy it CAN be, for the right job – if the talent network is fostered.

    No reason internal recruiters can’t replicate this.

    Enjoy Romania Bill!

  4. Great topic and timely as have just been discussing this on the back of some feedback I received last week at a seminar. Round a table of 10 half the companies represented did not allow social media at work, so although the Resourcing and HR Managers wanted to, they were finding it difficult to utilise their own in-house networks.

    One company who has very large call centre staff wanted to tap into their successful customer services and sales teams for referrals, but as there was such a negative approach to SM internally it was difficult to encourage people to help. Such an easy opportunity to use peer networks for very ‘social’ roles.

    As you say it doesn’t take long and baring in mind these volume hires add up when sourced by agencies, an element of trust goes a long way.


  5. Hi Bill. Interesting post as always! Social Recruiting though is a misnomer. Gary Franklins latest blog post raised the issue of social recruiting yet again and started an interesting debate. For me though, its no different to the internet 12 years ago. Back then, we talked about internet recruiting. We dont any more. And in a couple of years when the hype has gone we wont talk about social recruiting either.

    Dont get me wrong, i think the social evolution, whatever you want to call it is a game changer – way more powerful than the internet in general has yet proved to be, and business wide, not just in recruitment.

    But as i said in Gary’s blog, there are only 2 questions to ask:

    What things that im currently doing will this new development (Social in this case) allow me to better

    What new things can i do because of it.

    End of story. In practice, this means we stop talking about social recruitment, and start talking again about referrals, sourcing, onboarding, pooling, pipelining etc but in the context of the value that social tools and habits bring.

    So, for example, how can my referral process be improved by embracing or embedding it in the social technologies/habits of my employees/customers.

    Social recruiting is dead – long live recruiting!

  6. We’ve spoken to quite a few US companies with European subs about engaging staff in the social recruiting process.

    The mindset for some is that Marketing back in the US won’t let anybody say anything without prior written approval. This is obviously also a huge block for any real employer branding initiatives.

    I spoke to an internal recruiter last week in London and he told me of the last 21 hires he got 20 of them from searching LinkedIn.

    From what I’ve seen searching for passive candidates using social media is the big impact but broadcasting messages outwards, by recruiters or employees, has still really to get started properly.


  7. […] divergence portends, Directors and VP of HR are subscribing to RSS feeds and trekking off to former Soviet Bloc countries in […]

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