TMA’s Social Recruiting Summit Recap

Last week I attended the TMA Social Recruiting Summit in New York City. For a kid from New York, any trip there is nice, because in addition to being able to see some family while I am up there, I pretty much eat pizza every day and twice if I can find an excuse. Being able to cover the event gave me the ability to view the conference from a different perspective, where I could actually listen to all thecontent, while also taking in how the crowd is reacting to it.

The event itself was well attended by about 125 people, and it was nice to see that the attendees’ experience levels and industries varied greatly. This was particularly refreshing, because it brought out some of the challenges that are definitely unique to certain industries, while other times attendees were secure in knowing everyone else faces the same struggles. TMA did a really nice job on including speakers and content that spanned recruiting, sourcing, marketing and employee branding. It’s a tough feat to successfully cater to an array of audiences in a smaller conference, and it worked.

Event Chairman Matt Charney kicked off the 1st day with the “devil’s advocate” perspective of social recruiting. For 60 minutes, he was deftly poking holes in the mystique that in order for social recruitment and brand to scale, it has to be overly robotic, or ardently “in-brand” at all times. Instead, a theme developed, that carried from the opening session through the end of the conference: “Be Yourself”. At times, this ad hoc theme was explicit, and at other times it was merely implied. It seems simple enough, doesn’t it? But the reality is, between all the “thought leadership”, shiny new tools, and constant demand for data to prove ROI, it’s hard for many to actually spend much time being creative when attracting and engaging their audience, let alone truly being yourself.

Wait. So, Relationships Are…Social? 

Yep, it’s 2015, and people are still asking how they can develop relationships with candidates. Well for the most part, all of this employer branding, social recruiting, big data and customer experience “stuff” is common sense, with a splash of tact and judgement. Marie Artim and Carolyn Eiseman of Enterprise Holdings have combined recruiting and marketing super powers to share the story of their employees for the mutual good of the brand. They are making the employees the star of the brand, not necessarily the candidate that they are hoping to attract. It’s a pretty brilliant strategy, when you consider that most job seekers look for places where they feel there are  “people like me”. Another strong move by Enterprise was the decision to make their recruiters accessible by providing contact information on their job descriptions. While that might be considered risky by some, since crazy will find you no matter what, it really addresses a needed level of transparency with candidates. When you are a few thousand entry level hires a year, there’s no harm in an A/B test to see what will work. If you can measure it, that is even better.

Alex Putman helped to pile on a second helping of “Be Yourself” for the crowd by highlighting that recruiting is marketing. Read that again; Recruiting. Is. Marketing. Plain and simple. We’ve gotten over the self-hate that came years back over the realization that recruiting was part sales, and now it’s time to embrace our role as marketer as well. And by building a strong brand, you can spark emotion, and thereby loyalty. But loyalty is earned because of the relationships developed through the efforts of that brand and the people behind the brand.

The addendum takeaway from Alex, was “Be Yourself”, but “don’t be creepy”. Candidates need to take note as well, because even though they have a looser filter on what’s OK to put online, employers aren’t in complete agreement yet. Employers still use social media as a tool to background check a candidate. Right or not, it needs to be considered important to the discussion.

Capital One has impressively managed, as a larger company, to incorporate data and analytics into the culture, in order to help make decisions. Listening to how they are using feedback data from candidates in how they measured recruiters made me think that this was definitely not my mama’s bank. The intrinsic value of “relationships over transactions” is now more evident in our industry than ever before. And CapOne is breaking down what it means to be an ambassador for the organization.

As Celinda Appleby of Oracle simply stated:  Relationships Matter.

Tools Rule – When Used Right

No recruiting conference, social or otherwise, is complete without a little discussion on the tools we use to find the coveted purple squirrels. While this conference was no different, the approach to these tools varied by the desired result, be that research, marketing or engagement focused. Chloe Rada of Sodexo gave a wonderfully balanced strategic & tactical overview of how Sodexo is using Pinterest for branding their company and workforce. At its core, they are using it to tell a mostly visual story about what makes them who they are. It’s become their 6th largest source of hire since it’s adoption.

But even before engaging, tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be treasure troves for building your strategy on how to approach candidates you are interested in. We need to understand the backgrounds that we’re seeking. We need to understand the candidate, where they hang out, and start taking interest in them. Michael Goldberg of the American Heart Association broke it down plainly for us: “Forget the job. Show you are interested in THEM”.

https://twitter.com/AmyBelanger/status/623940783222181889

Steve Levy introduced a number of recruiting tools that can be used for discovery on Twitter, without overwhelming people with “100 new things that they must try tomorrow”. He included some really nice Chrome extensions, like Riffl, which functions like a Connectifier for Twitter….on speed. His messages around interaction were echoed the call for authenticity and utilizing the platform in order to lead to the next level conversation…on the phone.

Strategic Branding

That’s a misleading subtitle. It can tend to imply that branding is supposed to be created in some stuffy board room with no actual plan to engage the user. But CelindaNando Rodriguez and Aaron Rector brought that myth crashing down, bringing marketing and engagement together. If the unsung theme of the conference was indeed “Be Yourself”, then these presentations embodied it. Whether through effective storytelling about the mission, utilizing YouTube or Snapchat to reach a broader audience, or being a little offbeat by celebrating “national holidays” such as National Donut Day (yes, please), you can create content that engages, rather than frustrates and turns off your target audience.

At the end of the day, social recruiting is truly about engagement, branding and messaging. Sure, people will always be able to say they have hired someone off of Twitter or Instagram. However, it’s not the job posting that brings them into your inner circle, talent pool, pipeline or other fancy buzzword for candidate buckets. It’s about finding your voice, and putting your message where candidates are and with a message they want to hear. All communication is a two-way street, and recruiting, sourcing, branding and marketing are no different.

Be sure to visit the TMA website for on demand videos from the sessions, as they are absolutely worth watching.  Follow along with the latest on Twitter @TheTMAlliance

Thanks to the Talent Management Alliance for letting me crash the party and soak it all in. I’m looking forward to the next one.

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