Social recruiting: work in progress

Social recruiting: work in progress

There was a full house of 180 people for the opening of the 2011 Social Recruiting Conference in London on Thursday, 30th June.  A further 1300 followed proceedings online, and many more followed the tweets emanating from the Cavendish Conference Centre throughout the day.

The conference’s very own poet/songwriter Doug Shaw got things going with a witty ballad heralding the good things that the day had to offer. A more conventional welcome then came from organiser and conference chair Alan Whitford, who introduced the programme’s first case study.

Global vision

Paul Maxin has been global resourcing director at Unilever for the last 5 years and is part of a business that aims to double its current €40 billion worldwide turnover before the decade is out. (Over the same period, worldwide spending on FMCG is forecast to rise to €65 trillion.) Social media are playing an increasing part in the firm’s global recruitment programmes and extensive use is being made of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. All activity must support the business vision, and a basic tenet is that candidates, employees and ex-employees are all consumers too. A central team creates and builds the platforms and develops some core content, while local channels are handled by operating units in that country. One of Unilever’s key objectives is to attract top-tier graduates from universities across the globe, who will become tomorrow’s senior managers. This group will then act as magnets for the next generation and social media (with graduate content and creative themes coming from the graduates themselves) will play its part. Paul is aware that social recruiting is not a universal panacea, pointing out that brochures still play an important part in some places, and that cultural differences must be taken into account. Clearly, however, Unilever see social media as a key building block in future recruitment communications.

Branding matters

For Accenture, social media can be used to create a more human face for the firm than the big, grey, corporate image of its B2B brand. "Think about who you’re trying to engage with, not about you," said Quezia Soares, Accenture’s recruitment marketing manager in the UK. She sees social media helping to enrich the recruitment process at all stages, to onboarding and beyond; joiner networks and referral programmes were two examples of successful use. For its graduate intake, Accenture targets some of the most competitive campuses. Its "film season" on Facebook, inviting candidates to remake classic movies in one minute, attracted huge interest. The firm has also had success in finding scarce experienced hires by targeting ads on Facebook and Linkedin at specific groups with a "come and meet us" message. As with a number of other speakers, Quezia felt whole-hearted commitment to the social media project was important, requiring the support and backing of internal champions and buy-in from the top. (It does no harm, apparently, to point out to senior partners what their main competitors are up to.)

Quantity, quality and cost

After coffee, it was Maayan Zusman’s turn. As recruitment marketing and branding lead from Intel, one of her main themes was ROI. Intel’s sourcing strategy has been internet-based for some time, based on niche audience websites, virtual fairs, Linkedin search and forums. The added advantages of social media have been to put a face to Intel, to promote its branding and culture, to facilitate the building of relationships with candidates and communities, and to direct information more effectively. The company uses the big four – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin, plus blogs and local sites in specific geographic areas. Again, the importance of top management buy-in was stressed and here quantitative and qualitative analysis of effectiveness is invaluable. Intel still uses campus marketing, referral programmes and job sites as major sources of candidates, but the buzz being created online is sparking thousands of questions and comments and dashboard numbers are clocking up.

Are we nearly there yet?

The morning ended with a lively panel discussion. Matt Jeffery of Autodesk talked about his recent article Recruitment 3.0 and foresaw the world of 4.0, with a vision of in-house recruiters as a profit centre. Someone from the floor commented that, whilst the experts were in to 3.0 and 4.0, most recruiters were still catching up with 2.0. Keith Robinson (SiteAdvisor) questioned whether any but 200 or so global giants really understood social recruiting. He felt that the vast majority of SMEs (where most jobs growth will come from) were still more likely to rely on staffing agencies. It was a shame that few staffing agencies attended the conference. (Capita was an exception, where social media is a work in progress.)

On the move

There was much of interest in the afternoon too. Dave Martin of Allthetopbananas and Katie McNab, talent acquisition manager at PepsiCo, talked about mobile apps. First Dave came up with the fast-changing stats on mobile internet usage (currently mobile is set to overtake desktop by 2013). Then Katie described how her company had bought in an employer branding specialist to focus on mobile and a worldwide team had been established to develop their app. The results are impressive and available for all the main mobile platforms – check PepsiCo’s "Infinite Possibilities" out at your local app store.

News from France

Franck la Pinta, employer marketing manager at the giant French banking group, Société Générale, then showed the huge amount of work his company has put into its own platforms and the strategy used on social media, all geared to countering the effects of the banking crisis and restoring Société Générale’s standing as one of France’s top employers of choice: main careers site -!/careerssocgen ; video wall -; Twitter -!/careerssocgen.

Charity Challenge

The Challenge Network could not have been a bigger contrast to the major corporates that went before. Founder Doug Fraley (ex McKinsey etc) explained how he launched this charity three years ago, offering young (15-16 year-olds) three week programmes of physical, social and civic activity during the summer. This year 3,200 people will participate, requiring 800 seasonal staff. By 2015, 30K participants are expected, requiring 7500 staff. Challenge has developed its own private network, linking staff and alumni with news and action points, and importing profile from other networks. The very effective branding/recruiting strategy that has evolved includes social events, residential selection and training weekends, the creation of a pipeline (based on alumni), and a social media platform via Employer Connections. "Alumni – the most wasted corporate asset." (not sure if this was a quote or a tweet).

At the end of the day

A second panel discussion again produced some interesting discussion - here are some quotes: "communities are where the capital is"; "recruitment is about relationships"; "social media has engineered a massive response market but it’s not being managed well"; "it’s not only money that goes in, and not only recruits that come out". (Impossible to attribute – comment below if you want to claim one or more.) There was then a pitch from Monster's David Henry on the new Facebook app, BeKnown (a main sponsor of the conference). And finally another song from Doug Shaw, summarising the day's events before the meeting adjourned to a local watering hole.

Intriguing content, excellent speakers, and some lively debate and disagreements - what more could one ask of a conference? The feeling lingers, however, that the social recruiting cognoscenti must work harder at spreading their messages beyond the realms of the converted so as not to risk leaving major markets behind.

Tell us about your upcoming conference:

Monday, 4 July 2011

Share this article

Any questions? Any comments?

Your instant reactions to this article can be posted here.

(Showing 1 - 1 of 1)

Mark Rice Date: Jul 11, 2011

"The feeling lingers, however, that the social recruiting cognoscenti must work harder at spreading their messages beyond the realms of the converted so as not to risk leaving major markets behind" Guess that also includes Ri5 spreading news of successful social recruiting too, yes?

  • Latest jobs
  • Find out how to place an ad here Media Job Read more >>