The growth, adoption, and momentum of social networking over the past 18 months brings another round of significant change for recruiting departments. The first question that needs to be answered is whether or not you believe social networking is all hype or if it will result in lasting change. Then you can answer the question, “If social networking is here to stay, is it right for our organization?”
Some look at the social networking trend and say that it’s all a bunch of hype. Some look at it and feel the need to, and will try to, be everywhere. Some will consciously decide to be nowhere — we have the phone and that works very well, thank you. Many are feeling overwhelmed by what’s happening, the pace of change, and the fears about transparency. In most cases you don’t need to be and shouldn’t be everywhere. And, you may decide to be nowhere, but make sure that’s a conscious decision and not just resistance to inevitable change.
As for fear of social networking, the pace of change and transparency, think of it this way — whether you engage your brand in the discussion or not, the conversation moves on — nothing stands still, except that eventually people may just not care about your brand at all, and, well, at that point you won’t need to recruit anyways. If you want to influence the conversation about your brand and if you want to engage people in your brand story, then social networking has a lot to offer. The complete article featured in the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership October issue, will delve further into that, but here are my more brief thoughts for the time being.
Social Media and Social Networking: Strategy or Tactics
The underlying premise of this article is that social networking is not a passing fad and that it deserves significant positioning in your talent attraction and management strategy.
Let me begin my differentiating, for the purposes of this article, the difference between social media and social networking. The terms are often used interchangeably, but I see an important distinction, especially for recruiting. Social networking is the application of social media, which provides the tools to share content and information, engage in conversations, and build networks. The key difference is what you choose to do after sharing your information. Social networking is pursued with the underlying intention of dialogue, engagement, and interest. It also results in a more sustainable talent strategy that differentiates your brand and brings forward many other business benefits. If you are simply pushing jobs out to Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you are socializing job postings by using social media, but not necessarily engaging in social networking. If you’re engaging prospective talent in discussions and building active communities, you are pursuing a social networking strategy.
There’s also a significant difference between the two that influences how you design an effective strategy and how you define your desired outcome. Social media is in part strategic but mostly tactical and is really saying: “Hey, these are new channels through which we can reach people and we should broadcast our jobs.”
That may be fine, but it limits the value and doesn’t fully realize the potential or move you toward a sustainable solution. Also, and most importantly, when you use social media there is an expectation for networking! If you push a job out on Twitter and someone reaches out to you, they expect a response. When you don’t respond, the brand can be viewed unfavorably and over time this type of behavior will dilute the brand reputation and value.
This is similar to what job seekers expected with the introduction of corporate recruitment websites. They wanted a way to reach and connect with someone in a company they were interested in joining. Remember all the discussions about the “black hole of recruiting”? Well, in a social world, the expectations and consequences are higher. And, while today’s job market may be in favor of the employer, the cycle will turn again and the strategy that you develop and implement today will absolutely impact future talent attraction effectiveness — positively or negatively. If you want to develop a sustainable talent acquisition strategy and actively invest in the longevity of your brand, then it’s time to engage.
They Really Are Interested in You — Really!
The evolution of technology, social tools, and ease of access are driving rapid advancements in communication. People like to play, create, share, and comment about your company and brand. The fear you may be feeling about letting people “in” to your brand, so to speak, can be looked at one of two ways. You can either be fearful of what they may do to your brand, which “they” will do anyways, or, you can celebrate that people are interested in your brand, products, and services. Listen to what they have to say. You may learn something. Engage them in your business challenges; they may solve them for you. Yes, they want to hang out with you — if, that is, you have something interesting to say! A UK student who found his job through Twitter shared this with me:
Personally, the companies that I’ve been most interested in have been the ones that are blogging and therefore appear to be knowledgeable industry leaders … also, some companies have begun posting jobs on blogs, which I think is better than on a recruitment website or in a newspaper, because the candidates applying have read the blog and are interested in the company.
Now, that’s something to think about. Does silence imply your company has nothing interesting to say? That you’re not knowledgeable about your industry? Pursuing a social strategy isn’t just a way to attract and engage talent. It can also be a way to expand the innovative capacity of your organization — perhaps something we should consider as the talent function evolves.
Clearly the impact of “social” is still emerging and the potential is just beginning to be understood — although it’s already profound. We are still at the edge of what the social media wave will bring. The potential for sweeping change is enormous. We will certainly see the future impacted and unfolding before our eyes.
How effectively is today’s HR function meeting organizational business needs? How about the individual and collective needs and capability of the organization’s workforce? How can a global CEO study indicate that Talent is the most critical imperative, ranking high above access to capital, (see pg 24 of the exec summary) and at the same time reports are emerging that upwards of 60% of employees would leave their jobs when the economy improves? Increasingly, Talent is disconnected, underutilized, over managed, dispensable and bored. And, companies are not realizing the value in their workforce by merely creating a place for work to be done. Where is the excitement around business? Around new ideas? Innovation? Collaboration? Competition? How frequently have talented employees left a company to give birth to a successful venture on their own – could the idea not be born internally? Can we create a true entrepreneurial culture that supports internal incubators and reward innovation? What’s driving the disconnect and when will business get serious about the value to be realized in attracting, engaging and leveraging individual and collective capability? When will organizations recognize there is greater reward than risk in hiring for potential rather than always hiring to fit the round peg in the round hole and that the same approach applied to successful, innovative business practices can and should be applied to talent practices?
As the ecosystem within which companies operate continues to test and challenge the ability of organizations of all sizes to attract, engage and leverage talent how has the HR function stepped up to lead the way? Today’s business environment persistently demands more from people and their companies. What is the new leadership model at the intersection of HR, Talent and business? And, yet, how many companies have truly evolved their internal environments to navigate the waters of the business environment they operate in today and will be faced with tomorrow? This article from BusinessWeek raises some very relevant questions about R&D. Where is the relationship between R&D leaders, the HR function, the CFO and CEO to set a vision that prepares for the future? Any business issue today is also a Talent issue. How will we create adaptive practices that support continuous evolution that better keep pace with an increasingly shifting world with so much to offer, so many opportunities and filled with so many unique challenges?
The Big What If I like to ask “what if” questions, a lot! It helps me imagine different realities, explore new possibilities and develop differentiated solutions. The BIG “what if” question I’ve been tossing around? Here’s part one – What if the HR function didn’t exist? Lets just imagine this for a minute. Some how business has been able to survive all these years without an HR function. New employees were still hired. Internally, people were paid on time and appropriately. Employees had access to development opportunities and internal movement happened as needed/desired. Things just happened, maybe not in an exciting way but we plodded along and managed. Now, part two – What if the HR function didn’t exist today BUT a business need was identified that recognized there was a synergistic relationship to be leveraged with talent in a way that would drive adaptive business practices. That would drive personal engagement, job satisfaction, creativity, collaboration, innovation and competitive advantages stemming from a talent-centric organization aligned through shared values and a clear vision.
Needless to say, this is a BIG what if! It’s also a critical question to explore during uncertain times that, to a large degree, has widened the gap between the organization and its current and prospective employees. The result of which does not look good from any perspective – and certainly not if you gaze into the future and wonder what will be different.
Talent Camp About a year ago I began kicking around the idea of Talent Camp – bringing together an intimate group of keen minds with a unique orientation and passion for Talent, business and the HR discipline. All things happen for a reason and in this case I’m particularly pleased that circumstances resulted in Talent Camp being a 2009 venture because there are a few people
involved that I didn’t know last year. On October 18th, 12 incredible people will come together for 3 1/2 days to explore the BIG “what if”. Collectively we have more years, depth and breadth of business and HR experience than I can begin to measure. We also share a strong passion for what could exist at the intersection of talent and business to serve both interests and advance organizational capability and effectiveness. We’ll be gathering in a 4500 square foot beach house on the Oregon Coast to immerse in a dialogue around our big “what if” question, that will no doubt experience the ebb and flow of progress, frustration, curiosity, pain, breakthroughs and clarity as we craft our talent function vision.
What can you expect out of Talent Camp? Well, that’s something that we’ll be defining while we’re together. My goal, hope and desire is that we’ll be publishing a collective work outlining the talent function required for business in the 21st century.
I am so pleased and excited about the incredible collection of people who have committed to join me at Talent Camp. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from them and can follow each on Twitter (their names are linked) and look for #TalentCamp to follow the conversation.
Developing a strong, clear, engaging employment brand can be the difference between a whisper getting whipped around in a breeze and a crank-up the volume, highly amplified message, metaphorically speaking, to attract the best talent to your organization. That doesn’t mean you have to get out the megaphone and scream from the rooftops, but it does mean you need to get better at targeted positioning to catch the attention of prospective talent and move them to action. EnticeLabs has a technology called TalentSeekr that will help you do just that – without having to grab your megaphone!
I had a chance to talk with Joshua Westover of Entice and Steve Fogarty of adidas about TalentSeekr and Steve’s pilot campaign while we were in Las Vegas last month for the Kennedy Recruitment conference. Here’s their story about TalentSeekr. You can read mine following the video and the last paragraph captures Steve’s results.
What’s your brand story? Crafting a great brand story begins by knowing your company’s culture, what attracts people to seek employment with you, why people stay with you, and articulating what sets you apart from the competition. How you engage prospective talent in your brand story occurs through a number of different touch points. It could be your corporate career site, social networking sites, blogs, job boards, Google Adwords, video, etc. Even the biggest and best brands need to work harder than ever to keep this a streamlined, efficient process that produces a solid ROI – converting prospects to hires. The persistent increase in the number of channels that companies need to engage in has made this process not only more complex but more expensive, harder to manage and harder to track.
Once you have your brand story articulated there are four elements that will help your marketing and advertising strategy produce more value: positioning, reach, relevancy, and experience. Positioning is important to make sure your brand will be seen by the talent your trying to attract. Reach is your ability to expansively target the talent your aiming for – narrow and deep to broad and deep. Relevancy ensures that your brand is reaching the most interested, best-fit prospects based on skill, interests and work experience. And, lastly, “experience” is providing a brand experience that results in an emotional connection that moves the prospect to action – expressing interest in your brand and career opportunities. The ability to break through the environmental noise in order to not only reach the talent you’re company needs but for that talent to take notice and act is where the true value comes in. Its also one of the most challenging aspects of employment brand advertising. The days of jobs, and job seekers, ending up in the classifieds or on a few key job boards are long gone. Plus, if you want to reach a more passive prospect your going to need a more sophisticated approach to reach them and capture their attention.
How relevant and targeted is your brand strategy? Through TalentSeekr, EnticeLabs offers a sleek and effective approach to targeted employment brand positioning that provides companies a streamlined, intelligent approach to zero in on the talent their trying to reach. TalentSeekr applies geographic, contextual, behavioral and social media profile-targeting to deliver the highest ROI on each of your digital campaigns. By combining these four targeting capabilities, TalentSeekr automatically addresses positioning, reach and relevancy through location, targeted key words and site preferences (think Facebook, LinkedIn, User Groups….). As Joshua Westover of EnticeLabs says, ” We can get as broad as a nation or as narrow as a building”. EnticeLabs begins by collecting information from the recruiter about a job or a job category to develop a highly relevant positioning strategy. They’ll work with you to understand key markets (talent and geography) and create text, image, picture, video or flash ads that will appeal to passive and active seekers. (examples to the right from an adidas campaign)
Then, TalentSeekr automatically generates an engagement page that serves as a “storyboard” type concept to enhance the prospect’s experience with your company’s brand. Through the engagement page, TalentSeekr weaves together video, photos, referral capability, and links to your career site, job posting, community interface or any other digital real estate to which you want to drive traffic that results in a valuable employment experience.
Does your candidate experience measure up? So, sit back and think about this for a minute. A prospect logs into their gmail account or Facebook profile and sees a highly relevant ad. They click on the ad and get a cool video and pictures about your company and / or product. They get information in another panel on the page that talks about your company culture. Another panel may invite them to join your community. And, there’s also a job link. How do you think the prospect is feeling about your company and the career opportunities after that experience? Probably pretty enticed! (yes, pun intended!) Don’t get hung up on thinking that you need to go out and produce a professional video. The more real the video the more effective it is in creating emotional engagement between the prospect and your brand. Flip cameras are about $100 and create great videos. Also, chances are that your company has some cool product videos that you could use (like the video used by adidas in their engagement page above). If the videos are interesting and relevant to the roles your focused on then why not use them?
Are you also beginning to see how TalentSeekr serves as a brand equalizer! While the graphics here represent adidas, a very well known and respected brand, the more relevant the placement, the better the brand attraction and the stronger the brand engagement experience. Brands of all sizes can overcome what traditionally has felt like a “big brand” advantage to become equal in appeal and attraction strength.
Is brand intelligence on your side? TalentSeekr also gets smarter with age. The longer a campaign is run the more data TalentSeekr has to refine your positioning, ensuring that your receiving the highest ROI. While TalentSeekr can be applied successfully to specific jobs it’s even more effective if you think of job categories and integrate your marketing strategy with a talent pipelining or community building strategy. Think about the power of this integrated with your talent planning strategy and CRM tool! Through the Talent Seekr dashboard (below) you can track the effectiveness of your campaigns. TalentSeekr automatically reallocate advertising dollars so the brand placements that are driving the best traffic (not just volume but relevant traffic) will receive more impressions and in the end you’ll have a highly relevant pool of prospects and a data set that will inform future campaigns. You can also work closely with the EnticeLabs team and play a more active role in how ad placements are reallocated.
(Dashboard shows sample data for demonstrations only)
In the first campaign Steve ran through TalentSeekr for adidas they focused on a very difficult to fill position. In fact, it was a position that in the past had required outsourcing to executive search. Within two weeks adidas had attracted a number of highly relevant, top quality candidates and converted one to a hire and filled the position. The prospect adidas hired had seen the ad on their Gmail page and was so taken by the experience and highly relevant content they were blown away. Relevancy rules!
The ability for companies to move quickly is more important than ever before.Change is constant. Uncertainty is a reality.Complexity is on the increase, and the need for agility is rising as a core organizational competency.We’re living in a new business environment being shaped by shifting talent patterns, increased competition, shorter business maturity cycles and lower barriers to entry, just to name a few.These are the elements shaping today’s and tomorrow’s business ecosystem and your organizational talent capability.Your organization’s ability to shape an adaptive talent strategy and proactively develop response capability will allow you to harness these influencers and gain the upper-hand.
An adaptive talent strategy provides you with an architecture to meet the evolving needs of business and develop a value-oriented talent function. Complex? Actually, it’s simpler and more streamlined than what you may have today. Expensive? Developing an adaptive talent strategy is more cost-effective than not developing one. Will it mean we’ll have to change how we do things? Oh, yes! But, what doesn’t require change? The cost of “standing still” or not adapting may be less expensive in the short-run but over the long-term the cost of not adapting will cost you considerably more, and quite possible even the survival of your talent function or organization.And, more often than not, change is good.The hardest thing about dealing with change is getting over the initial shock that you need to change.Once your open to new ideas and new ways of thinking an entirely new set of possibilities emerges.
Adaptive talent strategies are based on alignment and clarity around the organization’s strategic business directives.They succeed when there is active dialogue between the business units, finance and talent acquisition leaders during the strategic business planning process.In too many instances, recruiting becomes a just-behind process. If the talent acquisition leader is not part of the business planning discussion then the organization is already at a disadvantage and successful implementation of the business strategy is compromised. Now, granted, its up to the talent acquisition leader to ask the right questions and then develop an effective plan to ensure support and success.The key here is involving talent acquisition early enough in the conversation to shift from reactive tactics to value-oriented strategy development and implementation.When the talent acquisition leader has sufficient information early enough in the planning process they’re able to effectively allocate resources, structure their team, make investment decisions, and guide the company’s strategic directives by providing critical insight into the availability of talent.This conversation becomes the pivotal point in developing an adaptive talent strategy. From here, the company can benefit from increased clarity.
Three other key components that shape developing an adaptive talent strategy -
Know the talent you have Visibility into the company’s existing workforce should be easily accessible for the recruiting function.Knowing where the strengths, weaknesses and gaps exist informs external recruitment. When the talent acquisition leader has this information they can more effectively develop a recruitment strategy and direct resources by partnering with their organizational development peer to identify the key skills and competencies needed to support the organization. An internal talent management system can deliver a number of benefits.It brings efficiency to the talent planning process and facilitates the movement of talent throughout the organization to meet the needs of employees and businesses.If employees know they have opportunities to pursue elsewhere in the organization chances are your going to improve retention. External recruitment should always be informed by the internal gaps and talent plans to make smarter investments and decisions when pursuing new talent.
Develop a talent plan Clarity around workforce structure guides how the organization shapes thinking about talent today and in the future?Which roles need to sit in a specific geographic location and where do you have flexibility to pursue the best talent regardless of location? Where can you infuse elasticity in your workforce through part-time, contingent and job share roles? When do you build and when do you “buy” talent? How do you broaden reach by identifying where work can be done outside the organization and engage collective collaboration to generate ideas and drive innovation?What is your plan for knowledge transfer? How will you prepare for a maturing workforce with different needs? What does the supply and demand look like for the talent you need to support the strategic business directives? For which functional areas and roles do you have a recruiting core competency and where will you outsource recruitment to a third-party? These are just a few of the key questions that should be asked in developing a talent plan to guide recruitment.Without having clarity around these types of questions and the resulting impact on your organization, chances are you’ll experience significant talent pain points over time rather than operating as an adaptive, value-oriented talent function.
Leverage technology In addition to an internal talent management system, a CRM tools is a key component to building an effective suite of recruiting technology solutions.The CRM serves a number of critical needs.It supports the recruitment function’s ability to manage communications, build relationships, integrate state-of-the art sourcing capability and provide visibility into the readiness of your talent pipeline.This last benefit, visibility into the readiness of your talent pipeline, is key to supporting an adaptive talent strategy.You’ll be able to provide better guidance to the business partners and make smarter decisions around how and where you allocate resources to external recruitment.The Reports screenshot to the right, courtesy of Avature, provides an example of the benefits gained when you have visibility into your talent pipeline.You know the readiness of talent and the depth of your pool by type of talent needed.
This will begin to provide you with an idea of what shapes an adaptive talent strategy.The benefit to the organization is enhanced support of the strategic business directives by improving alignment, opening up an active dialogue early enough in the planning process, and anticipating the types of talent needed.The benefit to the talent function is improved clarity around strategic business directives, the ability to be more planful in developing and implementing a supporting strategy, and the ability to deliver greater value to the organization. The ROI can be significant. You’ll realize the benefits of reduced third-party recruitment fees, reduced time-to-hire, increased recruiter productivity, reduced marketing / job posting costs, and increased efficiency in the movement of internal talent. The remaining elements - employment brand and networks, metrics, and internal communication will be covered soon. You might also want to take a look at the model on the home page to get a visual image of the framework for an adaptive talent strategy.