Rethinking Business

Recruitment blogs

Blogging is at the center of this so called “social media revolution.” Although there are some signs that blogging has taken a hit since the rise of sites such as Facebook – less people are blogging and more people are Facebooking, Tweeting, Google+ing, etc — and that’s great news for you. A blog offers companies (and individuals) many advantages that social networks just don’t; you have control over the look and feel as well as the content, they help with SEO (i.e.: help you get found), they build community, they allow you to share great content, etc.

I know there are some great HR blogs out there, but I’m surprised there aren’t more. That’s mainly because they’ll allow you to attract better candidates and increase employee retention amongst other things. I think there are basically two types of blogs that could be useful: exterior-facing recruitment-oriented blogs and internal-facing HR-oriented blogs. We’ll look at recruitment blogs now and HR blogs next time, OK?

Types of posts

According to Chris Brogan, the types of blog content that work the best are educational posts, call-to-action posts, relationship building posts, traffic building posts and off topic posts.

Why you should have a blog dedicated to recruitment

Imagine being able to educate candidates by really telling them what your company is, what the advantages of working there are, who your employees currently are, what you are expecting, etc… Well that’s what a corporate recruitment blog would allow you to do. As opposed to a relatively static career site, a blog is more dynamic.

  • Educational posts – I would spend most of my time writing these types of posts. Educate candidates as to what you are looking for, what it’s like working at a company, how to apply, what to do to increase the chances of getting an interview, etc. You can use pictures and video too. Some of these post ideas may sound “too honest” but by educating candidates, you can hope to increase the number of qualified applications.
  • Call-to-action posts – Having a hard time filling certain types of positions? Write up some posts specifically set-up to fill them. Short posts who’s sole purpose is to encourage users to apply. Consider shortening your application process for these types of posts.
  • Relationship building posts – Interview recent hires or promising prospects as well as people in the industry you are hiring for. If you’re an engineering firm for example, interview recent grads, established engineers, etc. By turning the spotlight on them instead of you, you’ll improve your employer brand and increase the number of qualified applications
  • Traffic building posts – Sometimes you just need to get more eyeballs to your post. Identify topics that will generate traffic. Work with your SEO people or consultants to figure out what are the search trends in your industry and write posts that will answer those trends.
  • Off-topic posts – Have some fun. Post some pictures of your last employee BBQ or team-building event; shoot videos that aren’t business oriented; showcase employee projects that AREN’T work related (for example, do some employees sell crafts on Etsy.com? Promote that…). Why? Because these post will definitely boost your employer brand

Now I know what you’re going to say: “I don’t have time to update a corporate blog.” I get that. Writing regular blog posts is hard, but there are ways to make it easier on you. It all boils down to organization: getting employees to participate and creating a content calendar are two things that will reduce the time-investment. I think the real question, is how would this set you apart from the competition?

Is your company planning on starting a recruitment-oriented blog?

Next time, we’ll look at HR Blogs that are interior-facing and what the benefits are…

(Photo credit: Gilberto Taccari)

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This is recruitment "until" moment

Did you ever notice that any story – whether told through a book or movie – has an “until” moment? Everything is as it’s supposed to be UNTIL something happens, then everything changes and nothing is quite ever the same. Chris Brogan pointed that out in his post Until. Chris writes a lot of great posts and that’s definitely one of them. He explains:

Marlin and Nemo lived happily in their reef UNTIL Nemo got lost during a school trip.

Wall-E lived happily in his junkyard, finding old junk to treasure UNTIL Eva showed up.

Bob and Helen Parr lived secretly with their children, UNTIL Bob had to go and have a midlife crisis.

See? It’s the UNTIL that makes the story.

He then goes on to make the point that

most of us try very hard to cling to that first half of the plot. Most of us try really hard to keep things the way they’ve always been. […] Most of us ward off our “untils,” but what if you didn’t? What would life be like? How would you see the world, if you were at least open to the possibilities of your until?

This is HR’s “until” moment

In the past 20 or so years recruitment has had two real “until” moments. The first happened on January 31, 1999 – that’s when the first Monster.com Super Bowl ad aired: the web was officially the mainstream way of looking for work.

The timing of the  second “until” moment isn’t as clear, but it’s been flagrant for a few years now. I’ve said it time and time again; the HR world has forever changed. The behavior of  internet users changed. Social media and mobile pushed users to look for work by using Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter whether on their phones or at their desks.

Recruitment has gone from happening in one spot – newspapers; to a few places – a handful of job boards; to all over the place – websites, social sites, job aggregators, job boards, TV, mobile and yes, even some print. Do your recruitment strategies take into account this new reality?

So the real question remains, are you going to ward off this “until” moment and cling to the first part of the plot or are you open to this new moment and roll the dice?

(Photo credit: JD Hancock)

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Your recruitment just got better

A little while ago it was announced that certain job boards were going to block job aggregators from their site in the US (I can’t find the exact reference, but that’s about it). In case you’re not familiar with the terminology, a job board is a place where you pay to advertise job postings (think Workopolis, Monster, etc.); a job aggregator is a site that scrapes the web for job postings, like Google, but job-specific (think Indeed, SimplyHired, etc.). This means that aggregators are going to have to try really hard to scrape all corporate career sites in order to stay relevant to the user because the more jobs they feature, the more traffic they receive. That’s great news if you’re a recruiter at a company.

Spy vs. spy

That means you’ll really be able to distinguish what’s working best for you – job boards or job aggregators. If job aggregators are finding your job openings on Monster it’s hard to say where a candidate actually found your job. Did she Google something like “junior sales rep jobs”, find a Monster posting on Indeed, clickthrough to Monster and applied or did she directly find it on Monster?

Why should you care? Because you’re paying to be on Monster and you can optimize your site to rank on job aggregators. You could be saving some money if you look to have your jobs appear on job aggregators directly from your career site.

Job aggregators FTW?

I believe that focusing on optimizing your career site to easily rank on sites like Indeed, but on Google and Bing as well should be a priority over investments in job boards. Let me explain… job boards are an important part of the recruitment process and they will be for a long time. But as a digital strategist I feel any company or any division needs to focus on its home base first and foremost. Having a strong career site that you control will always be important. You control the user experience, you control how users find you, you control how they apply…

After that you can focus on extending your openings on social presences, web campaigns and job boards – depending on your recruitment objectives.

It’s not that job boards aren’t important, it’s the priorities that are important.

What’s your take?

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We're all recruiters
Chris Brogan says we’re all sales and customer service people now. It’s no longer only up to the sales person to bring in new business or the customer service rep to serve the client — we all should be doing, because we can. One thing that social media brought about is the ability for all of us to be connected. If you went to college with someone who’s now the head of procurement and you feel your company could do business with her’s, you can connect on Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter or any social network of choice and generate a lead. The sales rep or business development person no longer has to act alone. What does that mean for recruiters?

The same is true for recruitment

For HR this isn’t exactly new. Employee Referral Programs (ERP) have been around forever and work quite well. The difference now is that ERP programs are on steroids. Social networks allow you to share jobs with people you only remotely know. Before, if my company was looking for an accountant I had to think of who I knew, if anyone, before hoping to refer anyone. Now I can just share on blogs and social networks to reach thousands of people. If someone gets hired, I get the recognition.

What does it mean for HR recruiters?

Test it out. The advantage of having all your employees being recruiters is that sourcing becomes a whole lot cheaper. Before automatically turning to job boards or *gasp* newspapers, email the team — the entire company — a couple weeks before you planned on posting the opening and encourage them to share the heck out of that job and see what returns you get.

Have your employees taken a bigger role in the recruitment process? How do you on board them?

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An honest look at recruiting using social media

There are a lot of posts, videos, podcasts and articles out there about recruitment through social tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and Twitter so I thought I would give you an honest look; the candidate’s perspective. I’ve had my share of success of finding work through social channels and I’ve been able to see what works and what doesn’t (well, what’s worked for me and what hasn’t). How and you use the web 2.0 to find your employees?

Having a homebase

It all starts with having a homebase as Chris Brogan would call it. Websites, blogs and career sites give recruiters a place online were candidates can find out more about the company and its jobs. Keep in mind that maintaining a blog is time intensive so make sure you know what you’re embarking on before you start: Do some research before and make sure your blog is not all about you, but gives me some useful advice about working there and so on.

Takeaway: Having a homebase allows you to control your postings – don’t simply rely on your ATS and job boards.

It starts with a Google search

Although Google, Bing and Yahoo! aren’t exactly shiny new tools, it’s how most job seakers (active and passive) start their job search. One of the reasons I recommended not relying on your ATS is that they usually don’t rank well (or at all) in search engines. In other words, Google can’t find your jobs. If you want to read more about SEO and HR, I have a post here.

One of the reasons that search engines are so predominant in the job search process is that, as Mitch Joel sometimes says (and I’m paraphrasing here):

We tell search engines things we wouldn’t tell anyone else.

Searches are private and personal, so with a quick search, a candidate can see what’s available in their field without creating profiles on various job boards.

Takeaway: Make sure candidates can find your openings on Google because that’s where they’re looking.

And now on to the social media stuff…

Trying Twitter

Twitter can be quite a beast – you can post jobs automatically and you can have corporate accounts, but what I’ve found worked the best was to have employees and executives help out with recruitment. Here are two stories:

  • Not too long ago, I was doing contract work and a major contract ended sooner than I thought it would. A few hours I found out it was ending, I see a tweet from the head of the Canadian division of an international PR firm looking to fill digital positions. A few DMs and emails later, I had an interview. I loved the fact that I was able to interact directly with a decision maker (and not a logo). I knew more about the company through a couple of exchanges than I could have gotten from a career site or a corporate account.
  • Some local web agencies are often looking for people to work in social media and marketing. Their employees are part of the community and regularly shoot out DMs to followers they feel would be a good fit with the company. That’s taking employee referrals to a whole new level.

Takeaway: I’m not saying corporate accounts aren’t worth it, but true success will come from employees’ personal touches…especially when attracting passive seekers.

Facebook Friends

There are many ways to use Facebook for recruitment. But in all honesty, the human touch is where you’re going to win in the end. I was able to get into one of the largest Canadian ad agencies by reaching out to an old colleague I had friended on Facebook. I’m not saying candidates won’t ask a question on your Page, but if they’re passive searchers, they’re gonna want Friends to reach out to them or be available for some questions. Having Friends posting and sharing pictures also helps with employer branding. Pages can be cool when I do research to see what life is like at your company though…

Takeaway: Facebook Pages have a place in recruitment, but it’s Friends that are going to be able to reach out and “sell” you as an employer.

Leverage LinkedIn

I must admit, the greatest opportunities I’ve had was through people reaching out to me on LinkedIn. People that took the time to search, find and read my profile. I’m sure job postings work fine, but if you really want to hire someone, reach out. It’s as simple as that. I know that, as recruiters, you’re busy…really busy, but that’s candidates want — a personal touch. Why not let your existing employees reach out to their contacts for you?

Takeaway: Spend some time finding the candidates you want and spend some time on  a thorough profile that tells me who you are.

It shouldn’t be a suprize that the best way (according to me) to recruit using social media is to be social. Sure the ads, the customization and the automation can be great. In the end, you won’t need anything special; no super power — just be human and do the work, that’s what candidates want to see.

What role does social media take in your job search?

(Photo credit: Eneas De Troya)

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In his TED Talk, Geoffrey West argues that there is a formula that predicts the evolution of cities and corporations. It’s a more complex video, so I encourage you to watch it. But basically, his conclusion is that every company lives an exponential growth before it eventually plateaus and dies out.

Obviously the speed at which this happens varies from one organization to the next, but according to him, every company eventually dies and he can pretty much estimate when companies like Google, Walmart, Facebook, Twitter, etc will die. There is one way to escape it – innovation. The more a company can innovate, the longer it will last. The catch? Innovation must happen at a faster and faster rate.

What does that have to do with HR?

I think HR has a duty to help its company stay ahead of the curve and help it innovate. Why? Because you’re in the trenches; you can notice trends in employee satisfaction, recruitment challenges, what new candidates are like and so on. You were probably one of the first to realize that eyeballs and attention were shifting from print to web when recruitment through “traditional media” got harder and harder. You’re probably noticing that employees are increasingly asking to telework (by the way, workin grom home increases happiness). So by evolving your HR practices, you’re favoring productivity and innovation and, therefore, your company’s survival.

At the most basic level, your role in stimulating innovation is in the elaboration of a corporate culture that favors happiness and productivity (telework, hackdays, empowerment, recruitment of top talent, etc). More than that, your role is to help identify trends before they happen.

What’s your take? What role does HR have in helping the company innovate?

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Is your recruitment keeping up with the times?

In July, 2011 eMarketer released a study indicating that digital media spends are set to increase in the coming years. Some companies are finding new budgets for online media, others are simply shifting some of budgets from “traditional media” to online. While that may not be surprising to you, the reality is that regardless of this spending shift, ad spending is not keeping up with consumer time spend online. So ask yourself, are your recruitment dollars following your candidates?

I know these are marketing and consumer insights, but here’s the thing…your candidates are someone else’s consumer. In other words, they’re the same people.

Media spend is still off…

In 2010, while consumer spent 25% of their total daily media time online, advertisers only spent 17% of their advertising budget on digital. Even in 2011, just fewer than 20% of ad dollars will go online…that’s still behind LAST year’s consumption levels. So as consumers spend less time with print media, the ad spend is still disproportionate. People spent 4.9% of their time reading newspapers in 2010, but marketers committed 15% of their budget there. You’re thinking niche magazines are better? Magazines took up 3.3% of consumer’s time in 2010, but marketers spent close to 10% of their budgets there.

What about job boards?

OK, so in recruitment we have job boards – they’re an online medium, right? While that’s true, the June 2011 numbers indicate that, in Canada, since January 2009, the top 5 job boards lost 38% of their traffic (those are ComScore numbers). That means your job seekers are spending less time there than they used to on job boards – they’re now on Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites.

The takeaway

While traditional media and job boards do still have their place in recruitment advertising, it’s time to accept we need to readjust our media spends. I know change is hard and that it might feel like a leap of faith to spend more money on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, but tell yourself this: at least you’ll be able to measure what works and what doesn’t – that’s something else print media can’t do.

When was the last time you reviewed your media spend? Any changes? What’s your take?

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Does your employer brand have personality?

Being a faceless corporation doesn’t work anymore. In the past, it might have been a sign of prestige to work for a large corporation, but now employees are looking for more. They want a company that has personality. In his book Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back (Affiliate link), Rohit Bhargava argues that companies now need to have a personality to be able to compete for customers’ attention. I think it’s the same for us in HR — if you’re hoping to attract great new talent, your employer brand  needs personality.

Having personality is not an easy thing to establish, that’s why Rohit wrote a whole book about it. But a good first step is to go through his test – Are you faceless? (When you see […] it means I’ve adapted some language for the HR world. For example, I’ve removed words such as consumers with words such as employees. The meaning is still there though).

Individuality

Is there a real individual or group of individuals that your [employees and candidates] associate by name as the people behind your organization?

Backstory

Does your organization have a credible history (backstory) that [employees and candidates] can understand, connect with, and talk about?

Relationships

Do you have a way to recognize your [employees and interesting candidates] by face, name, or voice so that they are not treated like [random individuals] each time they contact you?

Policies
Can individual employees choose to change or bend policies based on their interactions with [other employees or candidates]?

Language

If you read your [job postings, and career] site descriptions for your business out loud, does it sound like a real person is saying it?

Spokespeople
Are individual employees encouraged to tell their friends, families, and contacts about what they do, and are they given training in how the company describes and positions itself?

This is really only a pass/fail type of questionnaire – you either have all 6 or you don’t. If you do: great! Congrats! But if you don’t, here are a few ideas on how you could achieve them:

Individuality

Encourage your employees (both senior and junior) to engage on social networks and at events. Every recruiter and HR professional should be active on social networks. That should allow you to put a human face to the organization.

In time, certain “leaders” will appear. Encourage them.

Backstory

People want to work for a company and products that stand for something. Incorporate your company’s history and its culture in all your communications (job postings, career site and social media interactions when appropriate).

Relationships

Build relationships with candidates that you feel would have the best fit with the company. Try using a tool like Xobni so that when you receive information regarding a great candidate, scour her social presences and connect with her. Build that relationship early, even before you have an opening.

Policies

Trust your employees. Allow them to work around processes. Not only to help you find new candidates, but in day-to-day activities. It’ll increase job satisfaction which in turn will increase referrals.

Language

I’ve talked about language before. Do your career site and job postings pass the scrape test? If they don’t, start thinking like a copywriter and revamp them. If you really don’t want to that, hire full-time or freelance writers to help you out.

Spokespeople

Encourage sharing. Elaborate a social media policy that educates and encourage use of social networks and nominate social media leaders that will be there to answer questions. Review your Employee Referral Programs to see if they include social media components.

Make sense? Do you have any other advice?

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Own your recruitment

When I tell you that SEO is important to the HR world, it’s because I feel you need to own your recruitment presence. When someone does a non-branded search (i.e.: a search that doesn’t include your company name) for a position you’re looking to fill, your job posting should show up on the first page of results (whether that’s on Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Ask…). But why? Often job postings on job aggregator sites and job boards rank just as well as or better.

It’s all about control

It’s true that job postings on sites like Monster, Indeed or SimplyHired will often rank very well on search engines. The thing is you don’t control those postings. Sure, if it’s a job board, you’ve payed for it, but you can’t guarantee the candidate’s experience. What happens after the candidate clicks on a link that isn’t yours? Well…you don’t know. Sometimes everything will go well, but other times:

  • There are ads for other jobs around the posting
  • The page is temporarily unavailable
  • There are actual job postings for your competitors
  • It increases the number of steps there are to apply

What about the actual application process? Often job boards or aggregators ask candidates to sign-up before being able to apply. In other words, you’re paying for another company to get your candidate’s information so they can push more other job postings — maybe even your competitor’s…

So why is it important?

So that you can captivate your candidate, get the information and build a relationship with someone who wants to work for you…

Focus on getting people to want to work for you.

What’s your take?

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Your recruitment is boring

I’m not going to apologize for that title – you know it, I know it, your candidates know it. Looking for a job is boring and can be depressing. Part of the reason is that your job site and job descriptions are generic and the whole process can be downright insulting to the candidates’ competencies. Now I know it’s not all your fault – some candidates just have a hard time selling themselves.

Recruitment is a whole lot more difficult than it used to be. Doing stuff differently is scary, but I’ll just put it this way, if it’s not scary, it’s not going to work and you won’t find your candidates.

  • Newspapers: I’m sorry to say but job postings in newspaper are a waste of money. That’s not to say newspapers are irrelevant. They still have a place, but they have to be part of a larger presence. You know that people (including you) are spending their time on Google, Facebook, YouTube – both on their computer and their mobiles – so why are you insisting on wasting money on where your candidates are not?
  • Generic job postings: If they look and read like an ingredient list, it’s time to revamp them. Start with the job posting scrape test, and then just try to read them. If you can’t pass the test or if you fall asleep, hire a freelance writer and inject some personality moments in there… If you want some advice, a long list of requirements with little information about the company is not great. Keep it to the point.
  • Career site: How usable is your career site? Take a moment and put yourself in a candidate’s shoes and figure out what it’s like to apply. Basically ignore what you know about the site, turn on a timer and apply for a job. Now answer the following questions: How long does the WHOLE process take? How many steps are there? Can you figure exactly what the job is? Whole would be a good fit for the job?
  • Social media: Maybe you’re already using social media to help with your recruitment; there are plenty of posts about it, heck, I’ve even written about how to use Facebook to help recruitment. The thing is that people want to work with people not logos. I think corporate presences have their place on social networks, but if you and your fellow recruiters aren’t active, you’re not harnessing the true potential of social media.
  • Headhunters: Don’t be lazy. There are pretty much two reasons to go through a headhunter — you want to keep the recruitment confidential or it’s for a temp job and it’s not worth the time investment. If you aren’t in either situation, do the work and own your recruitment. Besides, who’s ever going to represent your company better, you or a headhunter?

Chances are you got into HR for the human aspect – don’t lose that. Don’t get lost in the generic day-to-day, be uncomfortable and stand out. Make it fun and great for people to apply – make people WANT to work at your company. Sure, it takes time, but just a hint: Classifieds, unusable sites, boring job descriptions are not going to do that.

What’s your take?

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