The Next Generation of Social Recruiting



Patrick is the founder of QUEsocial, an award-winning SaaS advocacy platform adopted by UnitedHealth Group, Enterprise, HP, Allstate, Sodexo, CA and other forward-leaning brands. He also co-founded Chicago-based Zocalo Group (an Omnicom company), a social media marketing agency working with leading brands including ConAgra, Unilever, Dell, Subway, State Farm and others.

Patrick is a recognized thought leader and innovator in integrated marketing and social media, and is a frequent speaker about the trends and business applications of digital and social media.

He lives in Chicago with his beautiful wife and three incredible children.

Webinar Transcript

Patrick Rooney focuses on harnessing and applying digital technology to achieve meaningful, measurable business impact. He is keenly interested in the possibilities of what happens when digital evolution intersects with business and how people actually work and work with companies to create logical, practical and original solutions to apply digital, social, mobile and emerging technology to everyday work.

Please welcome to Elevate 2015 Patrick Rooney.

Hi there. Thanks so much for joining us for today's session, "Social Talent Acquisition, The Next Generation In Social Recruiting."

My name is Patrick Rooney. I'm the founder and chief customer officer at QUEsocial and we're going to be talking about the evolution of social recruiting into what has become social talent acquisition. And if you're wanting to tweet anything out during our session, my handle is @patrick1rooney.

Now, a lot of us over the past five years or so have spent a lot of time, energy, and money on figuring out how to harness social media for recruiting, from talent communities to Twitter cards to mobile to even the beloved ATS. And yet, even with of all this time and investment in technology, many companies still wrestle with gauging and measuring how well they're doing.

And yet there continues to be an extraordinary focus on social and it's with good reason. That is because there are a lot of statistics, a lot of numbers flying around, a lot of research around how prevalent social has become in the job search. 79% of job seekers use social media for their job search; 86% of people in the first 10 years of the career use social media.

You need to be able to hire millennials and I think that we've come to a point where if you're going to reach millennials, you have to harness social media. Let alone reach them, but attract them as well. It's increasingly important to embrace social and yet a lot of companies still aren't using social and mobile technologies.

It's important to note that "social" is an encompassing term and it requires us to think beyond the traditional and transactional social media at sites that we've come to rely on. Instead, the real question isn't whether you're using these channels in technologies, I think that ship has sailed. The real question is whether that you effectively harness them for talent acquisition. Because if you don't, then you won't be able to reach quality talent. And if you can't reach them, you can't attract them and if you can't attract them, you can't hire them.

That right there, the fact that you won't be able to hire people if you can't reach them through social channels, that goes to the heart of social talent acquisition. Because the people you need to hire use social media to vet and find jobs.

There's a lot of discussion around millennials, you know, I'm not going to go into that too deeply but at this point if you can't harness social media to attract and hire them, that's not a recruiting problem. That is a fundamental business problem. Let me repeat that, if you can't harness social media to reach, attract, and then hire the next generation of talent, that's not a recruiting problem, that is a fundamental business problem.

So, perhaps it's time for us to step back and evaluate what we're doing and re-frame the question here. Instead of focusing on the how, the tools and technology, let's refocus on the what and the why. What are we trying to achieve with social? What does success look like? Why use social? Why use mobile? To what end? You know, we've done a lot with talent communities and Facebook pages. But what's really going to help us attract, reach and ultimately hire quality folks through social channel? That's the question we need to be asking.

Look, I think that the answer to that is a lot closer than you think, the question of how is it that we can harness social media effectively. Because it's right there in front of you. It's your recruiters who are in social media every day. They are the ones that use LinkedIn and Twitter and even Facebook. In doing so, they're not only out there looking for the right candidates, they're not out there only trying to fill job reqs, but rather they have become the face and the voice of your brand.

Within any organization, outside of marketing, it's the individual recruiters who have taken up the mantle of social media as an everyday work tool. This is important because social is relationship-centric. It's great that you probably have a Linked-In group, it's great that you have a Facebook page, but the heart of social is exactly that, social. It's relationships, it's interactions, it's engaging.

Having recruiters at the forefront of your social strategy makes a lot of sense. But it also serves the organization. It allows organizations to go beyond their existing brand platforms, their existing Twitter handles, their existing talent communities, their existing Facebook pages and instead allows them to tap into these new talent pools that reside in their recruiters' networks.

If you go beyond recruiters, think about hiring managers, the ability to activate and tap into your hiring managers. Think of all the quality talent that resides in there. This is really important because it's these people who are bringing your employer brand to life. In a very real sense, they give your brand a voice.

The reason your recruiters have such power is precisely because they're the one in social every day. They're the ones talking and they are your talent ambassadors, "What a great place it is to work," all of the great things that the company does. They're talking about their everyday experiences. The ambassadors part in this is really important because it's your employees and ambassadors who are connected to the people you want to reach. Think about it, it's a birds of a feather analogy. Software engineers are connected to other software engineers, marketers are connected to marketers. If you're wanting to reach quality people, why not tap into the networks, the connections of your trusted, quality employees now?

Word of mouth has long been a central theme in marketing and it's gaining steam in recruitment marketing as people increasingly turn to their friends and trusted sources for guidance. Employees are turned to and trusted for their transparency into what it's like to work for an organization. Word of mouth, the recommendation of friend or trusted resource carries more weight and has more impact than anything that we could do as an organization.

Ninety-two percent of people say that friends and family shape their perceptions and decisions more than company marketing; 70% of millennials say that hear about companies through friends and job boards; 80% of millennials look for people in culture fit with their employers. Then on the flip side, 65% of millennials are more skeptical of claims made by a company than 4 years ago. If you contrast that with the impact and power of a recommendation, you can see why word of mouth has become so important in not only employer branding but also just in recruiting period. Staggeringly only 47% of companies fold word of mouth into their outreach efforts. Why wouldn't you activate your most powerful, persuasive, and authentic voices to tell the employer's story? Because at the end of the day, employees are you best advocates. Not only are they the face and the voice, they and their peers are you best advocates. Not only do they provide the valuable authenticity that you need they, but also extend your reach far beyond your current social properties.

When you think about the numbers, with an average of about a 1,000 connections people have now across Twitter and Linked-In, and so on Facebook it's even more. If you activated 200 ambassadors, you would extend your reach to 200,000 new connections, people that are connected to your employees. These are new passive candidates that probably aren't in your CRM and ATS already. Compare that to the number of people on your Facebook page or in your talent community. This is a vibrant new pool of quality talent just waiting for you to tap into.

I don't think it's any secret that people want to work for a cool company. And so the corporate brand impacts the desirability of the company to work and on the flip side, the corporate brand is impacted by the employee experience, the employer brand. Think of Google, Zappos, and Southwest, and Amazon, all these companies are thought to be great places to work, which has helped bolster their corporate reputation. You can probably think of some companies that don't have such a great employee reputation. It's likely that has tarnished or been a drag on the corporate brand.

Now, of course, the employee brand is made up of a lot of components, only one of which is social, but it's an important one and its impact is growing and even becoming out-sized. But we've been talking a lot about employer branding, but that's only half the story. The question is, what do you do once you've reached passive candidates? What do you do once you've attracted people to your brand? What are you doing to engage them and drive them through the funnel? How do your recruiters convert them into real, tangible, quality referrals, candidates and hires?

Employer branding and social recruiting go hand-in-hand. One can't truly be effective without the other. This is really where social talent acquisition emerges. You have the employer brand and the ability to amplify the employer brand and attract the candidates that you want to attract, but the social recruiting side of the equation is focused on the conversion, nurturing social networks, feeding networks with a steady stream of good, relevant content that ultimately become referrals and candidates, and the ability for your recruiters to vet and qualify on those referrals and those candidates to find the right ones for a specific position.

So, we have employer branding, we have social recruiting. They are two halves of the whole that make up social talent acquisition. And so when we think about that, let's start thinking about social talent acquisition much more broadly than we have, I think, in the past, where these two halves are equally important parts of the whole and by putting the employer brand into the hands of your most trusted, authentic and recognizable voices, while giving them the tools and the skills to convert social into true business outcomes.

But easier said than done. Let's face it, at this point, there aren't that many social talent acquisition rock stars. I think within any organization, there may be a handful of recruiters who know how to use social as an effective recruiting channel. But by and large, most people don't know how or too timid or too afraid of doing something wrong or getting their hand slapped. Given the importance of social media as a talent acquisition channel, recruiters and even talent ambassadors need to be given the skills and best practices to grow, nurture, and then convert social networks into referrals, into candidates, into hires ultimately.

Given the ever-evolving nature of social, this is an ongoing reality. This is not a one-and-done, but rather this is a journey to teach best practices to drive activities that ultimately lead to real outcomes.

So, training was one component because it impacts how your recruiters behave. Since they're the face of the organization, since they're the face of the employer brand, which can ultimately be extended to the face of the corporate brand, they are, in very real ways, shaping the perceptions and decisions of the people in their networks. Do they want to come work for you?

One part of this is training, teaching best practices on how to approach each social channel. You approach Twitter very differently than you approach Facebook and you approach LinkedIn differently than each of the others. How do you find the right connections? It's not a good practice to accept every connection request. But not everybody knows that. When you're hunting, how do find the right people to connect with? How do you make the invitation or the approach? How do you share information and interact with people? Because it's not just sending out a slew of content, but rather it's how is it that you're enabling a deeper conversation?

Upscaling them with actionable knowledge about how to convert contacts into referrals and candidates. Most people know how to share content. Most people know how to update their statuses. People know how to do that. Where many people fall short and oftentimes are even afraid of waving their hand is in the skills department. They don't know how to convert all of that social activity into something that is going to lead to a larger business relationship. And then driving performance, aligning all of that activity, aligning social sharing, social activity, aligning the conversion of networks into real measurable business milestones. So the ability to put in practice the skills, to teach the skills, and put in practice the best practices becomes hugely important.

On the other hand with that really is the fuel that drives social media. One of the biggest hurdles that many companies have is with content, and content, in a very real sense, is the currency of social media. It's what drives it, it's what establishes interest and credibility and trust, trust in your recruiters or your employees as a resource or not. If all they're doing is sharing jobs and blasting their networks with job postings, they're probably not going to gain a lot of credibility.

Great content buys mind-share. It buys attention. It's currency that buys thought leadership. The question is though, there is a lot of content out there. How do you rise above the droning noise of all of the other content? I read a stat recently that says that each individual on any given day takes in about almost 10 hours of content every day. That is overwhelming. So the question is, if content is the currency of social media, how is it that you can make your content count? There's five elements that I typically point to.

Content has got to be relevant to your network. It's got to speak to them. It's got to be of some interest. It's got to be interesting, it can't be boring, it can't be redundant, it can't be off the mark. It's got to be useful. It's got to help the network in some way, whether that is making a decision or it's informing or educating, it's got to be useful.

Because we're talking about social, content has got to be shareable. You want people that come across your content, you want them to be able to share it with their networks. So content's got to be shareable and then ultimately you want to make sure that any content that you're sharing is actionable, that there's a call to action that's driving a deeper level of interaction and engagement with you.

Now, this content can come from your marketing organization, it can come from your news room on your websites. That's employer brand content. On the other hand, third-party content is hugely important, because it provides credibility for your recruiters. There is a lot more content at your fingertips than you might think. Third-party content is so important that we encourage a steady stream, two to three different pieces of third-party content a day.

At the risk of sounding redundant, this is so important, this issue of relevance, that I'm going to reiterate my point from a minute ago. Your content you're sharing has got to speak to your audience. If you want to reach someone, you've got to speak directly to him or her. Give them content that means something to them, that's going to resonate with them. Most software developers can't cook. So why would you share content about a fabulous butter cream frosting that you've made up.

Successful branding requires a mix of content. It can't be all about your company. It can't be all about jobs. It's got to be content that is aligned with your audience's core values and your core values. It's got to be about the work experience. It's got to be about the culture. And then sprinkled in there, there can be a good smattering of employee brand content, employees talking about what a great company there is, profiles of employees who are doing great things in the community. Only then, after all of that, very few job postings smattered in there. Because if all you do is send out job postings, if that's what you're providing your recruiters to share, their network is just going to tune out. And so we recommend a mix of content, 60% third-party content, 30% employer brand content, and then 10% jobs content.

Just like we're not talking about social for the sake of social, we're not talking about content for the sake of content. The other purpose here, and we want specific things to come from the content that we're sharing. Tie it into your call to action either to join your talent community, or apply for a job, or simply to follow your social channels. We call this FJA, Follow-Join-Applying. Whatever you call it or whatever you send them, when you're sharing company news or the employee-generated video, add a link to encourage readers to go deeper. There are tools like Google Analytics that enable you to track each piece of content you share and where it goes. It does take a little bit of planning and upfront preparation, but once it's set up, you'll have visibility and then impact of every piece of content that you share, which will then give you a clear picture of how your content strategy is working and what adjustments you need to make.

What does this look like? Does this work for me? Will this work for you? To answer that, I want to share with you a story about one of our clients who's a big brand you would certainly recognize and have likely been a customer of. They hire a very large volume of people every year and need to constantly refresh their talent pools. We've been working with for more than a year at connecting the employer branding with the social recruiting, with amplifying and extending the employer voice and the employer story, with converting social networks into real outcomes.

And so what we recently reported to them after a year was that they were able to increase their reach to nearly 300,000 people. In the last quarter, they added 37 new connections. That's 20% organic growth. Think about this. They shared content 32,000 times, whether that was to Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook, but they generated 42,000 clicks on that content. If you think back to that breakdown of third-party content to employer brand content to jobs, that means that we've been driving a lot of traffic back to their brand properties. From a marketing perspective, they generated about eight and a half million impressions with a 0.25% click-through rate, which, if you know about click-through rates, is on the high side of brand marketing click-through rates. And then they had an earned media value of $191,000. Now imagine expanding your recruitment marketing budget by 200 grand to reach relevant, quality candidates that right now are beyond your current properties.

So that's the employer brand side of it. More importantly they were able to drive 370 referrals, they were able to identify 364 candidates that ultimately became 150 hires. So if you think about that, the two sides of that whole, the employer branding helped to drive the conversion to real hires and that, when you look at ROI, is very tangible.

So where to start. Here are a few keys to success to keep in my mind as you think about putting together the employer branding and social recruiting into a cohesive integrated social talent acquisition initiative.

One is to be very clear about what your objective is. Be very clear about what you're doing and what you want to accomplish.

Why are you using social? Why are you using this specific technology? It can't be a bandwagon technology, but why is it that you're actually doing this? And do you need to be in LinkedIn? Do you need to be in Twitter? So be very clear about what your objective is and then align with business goals, align with clear strategic outcomes that you want to achieve.

Teach best practices. Again, this is an ongoing effort, this is not a one and done, but rather teach best practices over time because social is an evolving channel, and so the best practices that you apply to it continue to evolve as well. That we're not using social for the sake of social, it's all about conversions. All of this activity, whether it's employer branding or social recruiting, it's got to be focused on conversion. We want to identify those quality candidates. We want to drive referrals. We want to ultimately drive quality hires for the organization, so converting all that social reach and social interaction into real outcomes.

Content, we need to feed the beast. Content is the engine that drives social, so make sure that we're sharing a consistent and steady stream of content. Then ultimately, measure, adjust, and experiment. Align the measurement with your objectives. If you don't put in place the right metrics, how will you ever know how you're doing? Adjust, recalibrate your efforts. If something isn't working or you see that you're getting traction in a different area, don't be afraid to readjust because in social, you've got to be nimble.

Experiment. Social media, as I said, is an evolving channel, and what was true six months ago probably isn't necessarily true today. So you've got to experiment with what's out there but also with what's going to work for you. Because what works for one company may not necessarily work for another. So, you need to experiment and find the right balance for what's going to work for you.

I thank you for spending time with me today, and if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at I appreciate your attention, and enjoy the rest of the conference.