The Art of Social Recruiting
By Peter Weddle
Social recruiting is both a science and an art. The science of social recruiting encompasses the technology that now makes the development of sourcing networks possible on the Web. The art of social recruiting, on the other hand, involves the skills and knowledge recruiters must have to ensure those networks actually yield the talent required for their openings. Said another way, science creates the potential of social recruiting, while art gives social recruiting its power.
Applying the art of social recruiting is fundamentally an exercise in learning how to forge networks of candidate relationships on the Web. Now, most of us have been in relationships, so we know a thing or two about them, at least those that occur in the real world. We recognize that building such relationships is both hard work and a time commitment, and today’s already hard-pressed recruiters can ill afford either. So, we’ve turned to the Web with the expectation that it will enable us to network with talented prospects effectively and to do so without the hassle of traditional relationships.
Relationships, of course, are built on two pillars: familiarity and trust. For a recruiter, that means the top prospects with whom they are networking must both feel as if they know the recruiter and believe the recruiter is focused on their best interests. The art of social recruiting, therefore, addresses the dual challenges of building such familiarity and trust quickly for an organization’s immediate openings and over time for its pipeline of talent. I call these two requirements:
• Blink Relationships for those that have to be built in the blink of an eye in order to meet near term recruiting needs;
• Red Shirt Relationships for those that are developed over time in order to be ready for openings that will occur in the future.
Before I discuss each of those outcomes, however, it’s important to explain why relationships are needed at all in today’s candidate rich environment.
The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reports that at any given time, just 16 percent of the American workforce is in transition. These individuals are active job seekers and, in many cases, good candidates for our openings. While they don’t need a relationship to apply, however, the other 84 percent of the workforce does. That group represents the so-called passive population, one that is rich in the hardest-to-find skills and “A” level performers. These individuals are almost always employed, so in order to recruit them we must convince them to do the one thing we humans most hate to do: change. We have to persuade them to go from the devil they know – their current boss, employer and commute – to the devil they don’t know – a new boss, employer and commute. And, the single best way to do that is with a relationship – a connection based on familiarity and trust.
Blink and Red Shirt Relationships
How do you build familiarity and trust in the blink of an eye? Whether you’re using LinkedIn, Facebook or a new technology like Jobfox Boost, the key is to message like a headhunter. You must transform your network of prospects into a network of trusted collaborators almost instantaneously. In the space of a single message, you must convince those prospects that you are someone they can count on to help advance their career.
To do that, your messages must provide the right information in the right way.
• The right information is not what we have traditionally told candidates in our email, InMail and job postings. Top talent doesn’t want to know about a job, they want to know about the career advancement opportunity a job offers. So, tell them what they will get to do, what they will get to learn, what they will get to accomplish, what they will get to earn and with whom they will get to work. In short, tell them not what they will do for your employer, but what your employer will do for them.
• The right way is not a message that resembles a corporate memo, a job posting with a cover comment or a Facebook post to a friend. Think of it, instead, as business casual in writing. Design each message to reflect the 3 P’s; make it personable, pleasant and polite. Then, practice the Golden Rule of Blink Relationships: Flattery first, facts second. Just as a headhunter does, begin by telling them all the good things you’ve learned about them that caused you to contact them, then reassure them that your interaction will be private and finally tell them about your opening/opportunity.
To build red shirt relationships, in contrast, you have to message like a mentor. You want to build enduring relationships so your network doesn’t experience the attrition that plagues so many pipelines, especially those populated with the best prospects. And, enduring relationships are forged with familiarity and trust that linger:
You can build lingering familiarity in two ways:
• Communicate regularly enough to be recognized by those in your pipeline, but not so often as to be a pest. I recommend a message frequency of every other week.
• Build a sense of community. Encourage those in your network to see themselves as a part of your organizational family by telling them about employee (NOT corporate) successes and accomplishments and by setting up, among those who are interested, a “candidate referral program” which enlists them in identifying prospects for some of your openings.
You can build lingering trust in two ways, as well:
• Be helpful to those in the pipeline. Practice the 5:1 rule of messaging. For every one message you send out about an opening in your organization, send out five messages with information or news (about their career field, industry or the world of business in general) that they will view as useful to them.
• Position yourself as someone who is committed to their success, whether or not they come to work for your organization. Your pipeline of prospects clearly has an organizational purpose, but its inherent relationships must have a person-to-person feel and be seen as a career enhancing benefit to those who participate.
Social recruiting has become an important new tactic in the War for the Best Talent. To deploy it successfully, however, an organization must both build and use talent networks effectively. The former is accomplished with the science of social recruiting. The latter depends upon its art.
Thanks for reading,
Visit me at Weddles.com
Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet, The Career Activist Republic, Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System and Recognizing Richard Rabbit. Get them at Amazon.com and www.Weddles.com today.
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