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Cool story. I actually got hired after replying to a tweet. No lie. I met Will Staney in exploring technology jobs in Austin, and I stayed in touch with him on Twitter. And when he was looking for a new person on his team, in true Will fashion, he reached out to his impressive social network to source his hire. I replied to his tweet. “Stop looking for a video editor. You have found one.”

It’s a cool story. I’m proud of it. I know Will is too.

That was 2012. And in the 3 years since, things have changed drastically.

As with many aspects of recruiting and social media, procedures have become popular. Buzzwords created. Best practices created. Then copied. Then become old news. Cliché. Then laughed at… All within a year.

We try to see who can be the first to race into new technology, Periscope. Google glass. Apple Watch. (Which honestly, I love mine. It makes me feel like James Bond.)

As creatures of habit, it’s hard to admit that things are changing so quickly that by the time you figure something out, it’s already time to change it.

A lot of industry professionals I know don’t like the term “social recruiting.” As my friend, Matt Charney said recently, “All recruiting is social recruiting.”

It is a vague term with multiple meanings… and it happens to be in my job title.

So when I use the term social recruiting, I’m speaking specifically of Employment Branded social media channels and how they support recruiting efforts. Not how recruiters use social media to recruit.

The reality is, this is all new territory: the merging of recruitment, social media, and brand. And the fact is, that the details change daily.

With the recent announcement that Google+ has (essentially) failed as a social network, instead of shying away from missteps, I think it could be beneficial to talk about some of our missteps. 

Misstep 1: Can I haz all the channels?

In the early days (circa 2008-2010) of implementing Employment Brand on social media, there was a land rush to get on every social channel that could be even potentially viable.

Facebook & Twitter? of course.

  1. YouTube. Check.

Google+? Sure.

Pinterest & Instagram? Seems easy enough. Share photos.

What’s next?

Tumblr? Snapchat? WeChat?

Global channels?

Webio? Ren Ren? Vkontakte?

And there are new channels coming onto the market everyday. Medium? Ello? Potentially, very cool.

The more we added, the more confused we got on what we were supposed to do.

Why? Because every channel is different, and the way users communicate on each channel is different. Motives are different.

Each new channel is an opportunity to post content in a unique way. Not just to repost our Facebook posts, which is a poor strategy.

Course correction: You don’t have to be on every channel.

Pick the channels that make sense for your brand. Let go of the rest.

Since our launch of Life at SAP branded channels in 2014 we have actually shrunk from 8 down to 5.  Our current channels are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, & Life at SAP Blog.

Misstep 2: Social Content Doesn’t Drive Hires.


I gave a presentation to our head of TA with our social recruitment strategy for Life at SAP. Our social recruitment strategy went something like this.

Step 1. Use employee stories to create dynamic, engaging content.

Step 2: Post content on social media… every channel possible.

Step 3: Include link to related, available jobs using Recruitment Marketing tool by SuccessFactors

Step 4: Wait for the candidates to come pouring in, because the content is awesome, social media is free, and we can track hires from every specific piece of content and channel.

To be fair, this wasn’t a terrible strategy. As a small team who was trying to figure out a number of challenging items, it was good enough to have content going out to every channel… until it wasn’t.

I can tell you one thing for certain. No matter how good the video, how cool of an infographic, how many retweets, social content is not going to drive large numbers of candidates into your pipeline.

This isn’t to say that social content isn’t useful. Every piece of content; photo, blog, article, tweet, company review all add to your Employment Brand, and your employment branded social channels are an important way for you to contribute to that conversation.

Course Correction: Equip Employees and Recruiters.

Part One: Train your employees to be active on social media. Manage your expectations and realize that not all your employees will want to participate. Create referral programs that are easy to utilize by sharing on social media.

Part Two: Work with social savvy recruiters to come up with new ideas for content that can help them sell to candidates.

Misstep 3: I Don’t Like Data.

Fairly recently, we ran a promoted post on Facebook targeting a specific job to employees of competitors that fit the profile of the candidate as best we knew.

We spent $1000 to advertise a program in a Middle Eastern country.

The results?

823,212 impressions

5,602 clicks on the ad (an irrelevant number)

89 clicks into the job description

6 apply completes

5 qualified applies

0 hires

I bring this up, not because sponsored posts on social media never work, but because it’s easy to let the outcome take a backseat to the cool new technology. 

But there is a fix; data.

This is a good thing for those in social recruiting, because, for some time the connection between social engagements and how that tied into hiring was similar to reading tealeaves. With the Recruitment Marketing Tool, we are able to pull the curtain back, and let the number speak for themselves.

The numbers?

Social media accounts for less than 1% of hires. #truthtalk

Does it matter if we have great engagement? Sure. Does it matter how many fans you have? Yes. But these metrics should not be your primary indicator of success.

Course Correction: Follow the Data and adapt

It’s hard to admit that something you worked so hard for and believed in doesn’t work. But if the data shows otherwise, you need to be agile enough to pivot.

Candidates are coming into our system from Recruiters, Career site, and job boards… So what do we do with that?

Confession 4: I’m not James Bond

So I have to ask myself, how are we helping hiring?

If content doesn’t drive candidates, if social media doesn’t make hires, if channels are becoming too much to juggle… what does that mean?

Even with my smart watch, I’m not James Bond… I’m Q. The guy who gave James Bond all of his gadgets. The guy who helps arm the secret agent. The guy who puts extra bullet in the gun.

So, who is 007? My recruiting team.

If I do my job right, I provide them with useful items to help sell a candidate on choosing SAP as an employer.

I give them one more shot. One extra bullet.

Aaron Rector- Director of Social Media – SAP

Follow Aaron on Twitter

Connect on LinkedIn

Listen to Aaron’s SuccessFactors webinar on “the do’s and don’ts of social recruiting”, and check out many other great presentations.

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  1. Bryan Chaney

    It’s the painful truth (right now) that social is a small percentage of tracked hires. I tend to ask people the ROI of their smartphone and they look at me funny. Same principle.

    There are no silver bullets. Just more bullets. Well thought out and well written.

    P.S. I was just using the Q: James Bond reference today to describe recruitment marketing / employer branding / social recruiting.

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