Social Recruiting for agencies: The culture shock
When I graduated I chose recruitment, imaging riveting, brilliant, leisurely interviews, in my nice suit and HR-humanistic self. Revealing talent. Delving into psyches. Dignified, caring. Quite brilliant to be honest, if I said so myself.
I had no idea recruitment was one of the most savagely salesy careers you could find.
Reality quickly set into my job search, facing awkward interview questions:
- “Do you like money?”
- “So, errr, how many cold calls can you make in a day?”
- “Can you sell me this pen?”
In the end, I started by getting a job in advertising phone sales. Our “leads” were the directory. Pitch and close. ABC. AIDA. A great training to become a solid recruiter in the old paradigm. And despite never enjoying the salesmanship, I went on to spend 15 years in the industry.
But that just doesn’t work anymore.
Social media for recruitment agencies is aggressively growing as a marketing channel. And it has a lot to do with the end of classic sales talk, client information asymmetry, and changing customer habits.
Hiring through social media – Easier and more ethical than you may think
The recruitment industry has been further hollowed out of its human element over the last 20 years. Growing pressure from offshore suppliers and low entry barriers make recruitment fantastically competitive. Family businesses where we would comfily advertise the vacancies and sort interview candidates gave way to many macho-man fuelled boiler-room outfits.
And it gets worse.
Agents have reacted, by and large by doing “more of the same”. Just more calls, more InMails, more spec CV’s, more templated phone conversations. It is a normal reflex obviously. Stick to what you know, and do it better, or more of it.
Too rarely, having the time to really listen to the human looking for work on the other end of the phone. Rather, trying to systematically rinse each of them for leads as to who may be recruiting in the market.
And yet in an ideal world, wouldn’t it just be nice, to be able to attract candidates and clients who genuinely like the cut of your jib?
Unfortunately, this is transactional salesmanship is still keeping agents in an under-performing undertow. You need to lose sight of the shore to discover new lands.
Let’s forget about the latest app and take the broader view
- Technological change: A good blog will convey your voice and branding to thousands of stakeholders in your niche. Generating dozens of leads or registrations per month, for years on end. Ubiquitously, globally, 24/7 and exponentially, in your ecosystem. We can summarise that as a “1 to many” approach as opposed to “1 to 1” approach (picking up the phone 1 by 1, sending emails 1 by 1, having a templated conversation, 1 by 1, etc.)
- Consumer habits themselves have enormously changed, and not for the best as far as traditional recruitment agents work: Simply put, people are growing sick and tired of brochure-speak, cold-calls, and unrequested spec emails. The average consumer wants to learn more about you before engaging or buying. Not receiving three “spec CV’s” he/she never asked for per week. If it feels like “sales is getting harder” it might simply be the efficacy of the tools you are using, that is decreasing.
- Brand building, as a result, has also enormously changed. Much has been said about millennial marketing (we think sometimes unfairly). One of the commonly accepted trait is that new generations favour meaning and reject brochure-speak. That general assertion is also corroborated by watershed marketing publications such as “Start with why” by Simon Sinek. Or “Selling is human” by Daniel Spink. Their research shows that companies building the most branding at those that connect emotionally with their ecosystem, by communication their “why” rather than “what”. Their why is why they exist (aside from making a profit). Think “Challenge the status quo” and the legendary 1984 Apple ad. Compare that to the “what” only of your service or product. Think here, the Lenovo pop flashing “£199 super laptop with 8Gig DDRAM – Intel Celeron 3.3337Gz!”
Benefits of using social media for recruiting
Social recruiting will yield these general benefits to any recruitment agency:
– More candidates: Social recruiting will open up large segments of untapped candidate pools you simply could not see, let alone reach. Your 1st-degree connections on LI or existing database really only go so far.
– Better candidates: Passive candidates you source and engage with are usually of a higher caliber than those who email directly / found on job boards. Social Media in recruitment is dreadfully efficient at generating passive candidates. Being seen, in a smart and valuable light, by as many relevant potential future candidates as possible.
– Higher candidate engagement: The passive candidates you “pull” through to you, by being active on social media and producing valuable content for their niche concerns, will have
– Insights: More, deeper insights into the current market for your recruitment niche. Information asymmetry is being stripped bare by technology, making genuine thought-leadership essential to recruiters. Influencer marketing (a core subset of social media marketing) also relies on acquiring genuine expertise.
– Higher branding: Being seen by more, in a smarter / more beneficial / more authentic light will not just yield better, more, more engaged candidates. It will also generate in time a “funnel” of client inquiries. Easier negotiations and retainers.
And it cuts across the entire industry: day rate/contractors recruitment, permanent contingent recruitment, and executive search.
The only thing that will change in that spectrum is where you will balance out virality and visibility building (more for contract) and branding building (more for search).
It works better both thanks to its creative and innovative ability as well as for its ubiquitous, exponential e-mileage. Cold calling, spec email CV’s and even InMails, all of these transactional actions build no branding, leverage no innate synergies and must all be done one by one.
Inbound Marketing vs. Cold-calling
You’ve heard this well-meaning advice a quadrillion times. “You should do that social media thing”. And yet it is still valid. Get curious about what it takes in terms of communication to bond emotionally and authentically with your core audiences.
Before you try (again) to implement a genuine social media recruitment strategy, you need to bear in mind a few crucial success factors:
- It now takes much more for your content to “go viral” let alone travel extensively. This is due in part to the advent of in-platform social media algorithms. And also due to simple Content Shock: Content production has grown geometrically int he last few years, far outpacing our ability to consume it.
- Social recruiting (as well as any social media marketing) requires a culture change. It is not easy for most businesses to come out of brochure-speak. To find a voice, and live with it in the new paradigm. To establish a culture where staff feels like they can make honest mistakes when producing content.
- You will need to earmark a minimum of time and budget for a successful implementation. The days of “just do the blog thingy when your real work is done” are over. They are plenty of tools and tips to work 80/20 but a proper social media presence will take some time. In our experience, the best way to launch SMR internally is to nominate an internal champion to lead (say 50% for the first 3 months). And engage the entire staff (say 5-10% for the first 3 months to support content and engagement). Also, it gains by being coordinated with social SEO, smart email marketing, and FB Ads retargeting. Give it 3-6 months, it becomes extremely effective in a matter of months.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could drive quality candidates and clients to you? If you could choose who to work with, and enjoy getting involved with clients whose culture, values, and projects you really rate? With candidates who are really deserving of a break, who get back to you, and who sound sincerely authentic on the phone?
How are you going to get there with cold calls and spec emails?
Digital recruitment is authentic, creative recruitment
You say what you want about Millennials, I for one like their style. We (I’m a Gen X myself) talk a pretty chat about their social media as if it were just click-bait. Millennial marketing at large is actually more human than traditional marketing.
No one is forcing you to click on the click-bait. You are free to follow anyone you like. And enjoy their free content. And with the growing amounts of content being produced (aka “Content Shock”) it takes more and more to stand out. Simply put, it takes more and more valuable content, expertly produced and authentically voiced, to stand out on social media these days.
The future of recruitment industry is inbound marketing. Social Media Recruitment (aka “Social Recruiting”) is here to stay, and agents better take notice. Not just because social media marketing at large yields better RoI than traditional marketing. Not just because it fits deep societal changes (the growing rejection of cold-calls, direct mail, spec/spam emails, etc.)
In the specific arena of recruitment, it comes with another gigantic, overdue benefit. It actually puts sincere agent – candidate relationships back in the centre of agency success.
It makes recruitment agencies human again and allows the ones that really care and know their niche, to showcase that. Social recruiting strips down the “brochure speak” of the swankier agencies built on self-proclaimed branding. You get to work with clients who are natively more attuned to your style and values. Win-win-win.
As part of your digital recruitment strategy building that authenticity and informative brand voice will be key.
Human doings vs. Human beings
“I am a human being, not a human doing.”
Ultimately people do business with you as professional and an individual.
As a company, a group of people organised rationally, but also as a group of people who live out a culture. One that they may like or not. But you will find more and more that having no discernible culture is just not the way to go.
That even if you only appeal to a specific 10% of your potential market, that will far outperform trying to be everything to everyone.
That you can’t hide behind the brochure anymore. Social media for recruitment agencies is largely about stepping in full light, from behind the brochure.
And in time you will probably find that you are happy to let your external stakeholders into the authentic culture and backstage of your agency.
And that you actually do not want to do brochure speak anymore. That you breathe more easily in the morning, bill more easily, closer to target, working with better clients and candidates.
Social recruiting is simply the future of recruitment and in many ways, and actually harkens back to the original idea of recruitment. Something human and sincere. Saying or being something, that you, as a user or follower are free to like or not.
But carpet bombing, interruptive sales and marketing approaches will yield less and less as time goes by. The trend also applies to social media recruitment for HR and employer branding.
It is no gimmick and it is not click-bait if you do not make it so.
But even if you believe it is click-bait, accept that it is here to stay and gradually crushing traditional sales and marketing tools.