Tracy: Kevin, since this is our first post for our new blog, please introduce yourself and give a little insight into your social media background.
Kevin: I am the Director of Social Recruiting at SAP. I’ve been with SAP for almost 2 years. Basically, my role involves identifying, building out and using social networks and platforms for creating candidate flow for positions we need to fill here at SAP. The other component that is important in this role is to deliver on the employment brand.
Tracy: Your background is recruiting – why do you think social media is the way of the future for recruiters?
Kevin: I really think that social media has become another tool to communicate with candidates – both passive and active. If used correctly, it is truly a two way conversation. It is not a tool to push information out but a tool that can be used to communicate with potential candidates and candidates in the pipeline. Traditionally, from a recruiting perspective, a recruiter would have to catch a candidate at their desk or at home at night. Now, through a laptop or mobile device, you can communicate with a candidate any time of day. Whether it is during their commute, walking to meetings, while at lunch or any other opportunity where they might check their smart phone, laptop or tablet, you have the opportunity to communicate with candidates anytime throughout the day.
Tracy: There are a lot of companies using social media for attracting candidates, and every day more companies jump on the bandwagon. What suggestions do you have for companies that are just getting into the “recruiting” social media space?
Kevin: I really think it is important to take a step back and decide what you want to accomplish specifically from a recruiting and brand perspective. Once you have this nailed down, then design your strategy around this. For example, if you only want to use networks to push out employment brand, that strategy is completely different than using it for attracting candidates. A company really needs to evaluate and be clear on what it wants to do – employment brand, candidate generation or combination of both. For candidate generation, these tools are used to start a conversation with someone – a warm conversation with a candidate in place of the dreaded cold call the traditional way. Any recruiter in the market for 5 years or more knows the pain of calling up a candidate who has never heard of their company and trying to sell the candidate on the job and the company in the short window the person gives you. With social media, we are creating an environment where we know people want to work here and candidates are already familiar with our culture and jobs before they talk to a recruiter.
Tracy: In your current position as Director, Global Social Recruiting, what are the target groups your social recruiting strategy focuses on? How might a social recruiting strategy differ for companies that have other recruiting needs? What are some things a company needs to consider when identifying their target populations and the use of social media?
Kevin: There are two target groups we are eventually going after- one is University hiring initiatives that we have happening in 2012. Secondly, and as important, we are using our social networks to attract candidates for professional hires. In essence, those are the two strategies that we are building out.
Social media strategies can differ based on the type of industry. So, if we were, say, a food franchise, how we would use social media to attract candidates and build our brand would be completely different than what we are doing in the software industry. I’ll give you an example. Augmented reality is a relatively new feature for the recruiting profession. A candidate can use their smart phone to point at a place of business and have the ability to see job opportunities and other information about the company. This works well for restaurants or small businesses that would have a small number of job openings. If we used augmented reality in this fashion, a candidate would be standing next to our corporate office in Newtown Square and there would be 500 jobs that pop up. That’s not a great candidate experience to try to sort through that amount of data to find a job.
A way that we could use augmented reality in the future is to use AR to help guide the candidate through the interview process. For example, a company could use AR to have a virtual map available for the candidate to access when they are driving to the correct place on a company’s campus.
One of the things companies need to consider when identifying their target populations and the use of social media is the population’s access to the information. I think the classic example is mobility – the growing marketplace is smart phones. If we would be looking for a candidate pool of entry level, hourly employees, we would design a campaign around SSM text messaging to reach the broadest candidate population, whereas if we are looking for an experienced professional, we would go with a broadband smart phone campaign. A company really needs to consider what tools the target population has access to in order to develop an effective social media campaign. A caveat to the example I just shared is also considering the markets where a company is based. Emerging markets have limited access to PCs and the internet in their homes; however, a significant portion of the population has mobile devices to stay connected.
Tracy: There is a lot of information on the web about not only having a “branded” company social media strategy, but also having good content. What makes “good content” from a recruiting perspective? What have you found successful as part of your social recruiting strategy?
Kevin: A company really has to have both – employment branding and content. Employment branding will set the stage for the look and feel of site. Content needs to be created and presented in a way that is going to create traction and have people interact. We are not creating a daily newspaper for reading and passing on – this is what happened with websites 5-6 years ago. We are looking to create engagement with the candidate. We have two way conversations with individuals through our content. We are starting to understand what creates good content and what people share. Questions and polls that are relevant to your target population are good because they are asking for a response from the viewer. Photos are really impactful – people like to visually experience what it is like to work at a company. Articles tend to get low traction. If it takes too long to read or view, then it will most likely not encourage viewership or engagement.
Tracy: We all know that starting something new can have its ups and downs. What has been your biggest challenge or disappointment with setting up a social recruiting strategy and what would you do differently?
Kevin: I think the biggest challenge that we have had is the melting pot of recruiting into marketing. Recruiters are starting to become brand ambassadors and marketing is starting to understand recruiting better. We need to find that point in the middle where marketing and recruiting can work together and leverage the markets that we are entering.
Really, when you think about it, what a recruiter does all day is a lot of marketing. They just did it with different channels in the past – email, selling positions over the telephone, and such– now it’s about how a recruiter presents him or herself on LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter and beginning the introduction in a more collaborative environment. That is a lot different than trying to give an employment pitch that your company is a great place to work while you are cold calling through a list of names of people that may not even know what your company is about. It’s all recruiting – it’s just using different tools and finding the communication path that works best for the candidate.
My very first hire here I used a combination of email, telephone, texting and tweets to stay connected to the candidate. When the individual finally decided to accept the position, he sent me a direct message through twitter to let me know he had accepted. He didn’t have to leave me a voice mail and wait for me to call him back. It was instantaneous.
Think about how many times during the day you check your blackberry or whatever mobile device you use. If a recruiter doesn’t use these tools, they are missing out on being able to attract an entire population of passive candidates. You get instantaneous responses to your questions through these channels.
Tracy: As new social media venues continue to surface, what is your favorite social network for recruiting right now and why? What is your least favorite social network and why?
Kevin: I honestly think the most powerful tool right now is Twitter. Just to set the record straight, I don’t look at LinkedIn as a social network. It’s more of an interactive job board. If you do consider LinkedIn in the mix, I would say LinkedIn and Twitter are the two strongest.
I think if I have least favorite pieces of social media, it is when everyone jumps on a brand new tool and it is touted as the best thing ever –and then 120 days later it kind of dies out and has lost whatever purpose it was trying to fill. There will always be the “latest and greatest” trendy tools, however, we need to be very purposeful around our priorities and what will actually deliver on our goals of candidate generation and brand.
Tracy: And finally, are there any good resources you’ve used that you could recommend to individuals who want to learn more about recruiting and the use of social media?
Kevin: Yes – there is a website called http://mashable.com/. When I decided that my skill set as a recruiter was getting stale, I went to http://mashable.com/ two or three times a day to see what companies were doing with social media and what companies were doing specifically for recruiting. I combined this knowledge with a “think outside the box” approach to develop my skills and transition into the global social media recruiting space. If someone is really interested in social media, specifically around recruiting, this is one of the best resources available right now.
Kevin, thank you so much for sharing with us today. Your knowledge and “outside the box” approach have provided some interesting reading for our visitors.