E-Marketing Lessons for E-Recruitment Strategies

As the U.S. economy recovers from the Great Recession, the labor market recovery is being characterized as steady. Unfortunately, the job vacancy rate is higher than would have been predicted given the unemployment rate. This may be in part due to a mismatch of specialized skills needed vs. the ones found in the unemployed labor market, or just plain hiring paralysis: the fear of making a hiring decision in light of the possibility of another economic downturn.

In times of constant change and economic uncertainty, employers are looking more than ever for the best candidates in the market in terms of skills, engagement, and retention. While these characteristics could certainly be found in candidates who are currently unemployed, many companies looking for specialized skills are having trouble finding them. In fact, many companies are resorting to the online world to reach talent with these specialized skills.

According to a 2013 SHRM survey titled Social Networking Websites and Recruiting/Selection, 77% of organizations are using social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to recruit candidates. This represents a 21% increase from 2011. The main reason cited for using social networking sites is their ability to reach passive candidates who may not apply to job openings. The second and third reasons are the ability to reach candidates with specific skills, and to increase employer brand and recognition.

The uptake of social networking sites and online tools for recruiting purposes will inevitably increase the interactivity between employers and candidates. The question is: will this increase in interactivity help or hurt employers in recruiting talent and increasing their brand recognition?

Let’s consider the lessons learned thus far by e-marketing professionals. In his latest blog post, Anthony Miyazaki lays out several problems with interactivity, which could very well apply to online recruitment efforts.

Miyazaki explains that one of the problems is that interactivity requires a lot of time and thus, money. A company’s followers and their requests could increase to a level where the company’s ability to respond is not effective in addressing each customer. For recruiters, this might entail responding to a higher number of candidate requests and inquiries that otherwise would not have made it to their desks. While this could certainly lead to finding the right talent, the level of interactivity could become unmanageable if the appropriate resources are not in place.

Companies are now building social networking pages on LinkedIn and Facebook to make it easier for candidates to learn and communicate with the employer when desired. For example, HealthSouth, a large conglomerate of healthcare providers specializing in rehabilitation, created Facebook and LinkedIn pages where they do not only post jobs and updates about the organization, but also provide pictures of recruiters and various ways to contact them in their assigned regions. This increased accessibility for candidates has to be matched with increased responsiveness from the employer. Otherwise, the employer’s brand, credibility and reputation might suffer.

Another problem is that customers or even competitors might post negative comments online. For example, if a candidate is dissatisfied with any part of the online communication or interview process, he now has a public platform to make his dissatisfaction known. While this is certainly an opportunity for the company to do service recovery, the negative comment might spread widely and reach a great number of people before the company can respond and resolve the issue effectively.  

Miyazaki also explains that it is hard for a company’s brand to stand out in a space where there are many more competitors than found in the physical marketplace.   A candidate with an account on LinkedIn might very easily see several online job postings related to her skills and interests as she scrolls down her home page. Candidates could also follow a number of companies on linkedIn and Facebook, or through job board widgets and applications, and thus receive a myriad of information from various companies intended to attract the very same talent.

Increased interactivity might also get the public used to a level of relationship that the company might not be able to maintain over time due to constraints in resources. Miyazaki explains that companies stopped funding interactive marketing initiatives as new ROI metrics started to show unhealthy returns. This led to reduced online interactions with clients and greater potential for customer dissatisfaction to arise.

The same could very well be experienced by recruiters and potential candidates. While good recruiters build a pipeline of candidates who they will contact when needed, many candidates will come back to a company’s social networking site expecting the same level of service they received the first time they interacted with the company. In addition, candidates might also be disappointed if a company purports to have an online presence but does very little to make full use of it. Candidates might not be impressed at all if they find a poorly developed site with few or no updates, postings, and thus very little interactivity.

The lessons e-marketing professionals have learned are invaluable and must be considered when planning an e-recruitment strategy. To do so, consider the following 3 questions:

  • What will be your department’s service standards for candidates reached via e-marketing efforts?

You might decide that these standards will not be different than the ones you currently have. However, you must consider the effects of the transparent and viral nature of the internet in how you will interact with candidates who are reached through e-marketing efforts.

  • Do you have the human resources and time needed to effectively carry out your e-recruitment strategy and service standards?

You will need to consider your department’s current skills and capacity in order to effectively deploy and sustain your service standards. You might decide to do training for your staff to gain the skills needed for effective online communication; or you might need to review current work processes and assignments to ensure your staff has the time needed to carry out the strategy and to deal with any level of interactivity.

  • Is your e-recruitment strategy robust enough to find the talent you want, and to increase your employer brand and recognition in the marketplace?

You might need to find out what your competitors are currently doing: What’s working and not working. Based on this information, make sure your strategy is a step ahead and that you have sound metrics to assess the effectiveness and return on investment or interactivity that you forecasted. We could probably write several blog posts on this subject alone.

As the search for specialized skills becomes more difficult, the use of social media and e-marketing tools in recruitment efforts will be instrumental in finding the talent employers need and increasing employer brand recognition. The resulting employer-candidate interactivity could have both positive and negative effects on these recruiting goals. This type of communication happening in novel channels may very easily pose risks that may require different service standards, new skill sets, and a different capacity depending on the extent of the strategy. Consider the lessons e-marketing professionals have learned and make sure you are incorporating them into the planning and implementation of your company’s e-recruitment strategy. May your strategy succeed!

Look forward to hearing about your experience and observations.

Aleister Avila, SPHR

17 thoughts on “E-Marketing Lessons for E-Recruitment Strategies

  1. Aleister, great post. I agree that social media could make an excellent tool for recruiters; however I see this also as a double edged sword. The same way you can harvest a great deal of good information off of these social media sites, a huge amount of noise exists as well. For instance, someone who is particularly savvy with computers could very easily create a fake identity which would completely mislead the employer of what the person is actually like. On the other end of the spectrum, a very well qualified candidate which would be a perfect fit for a position could have an old picture of themselves doing a Keg Stand which might discourage a recruiter from even granting an interview. Now, in the latter case, I would tell that applicant that with great power comes great responsibility, and since social media is such a powerful tool, they must ensure that they monitor their digital world. However, doesn’t a great deal of responsibility also fall on the employer as well? To be able to sift through the garbage and actually find the few pieces of real information that define who the person is will become the challenge. But that’s just my two cents.
    Ray

    1. Ray, I agree with you! Social Media can hold a lot of information, for better or for worse. It is our responsibility as individuals and employers to make the best use we can of this platform. Individuals (and employers!) need to think about how the information they post might damage their professional image (or brand); and employers need to sort through all the bits of information they might get to find the talent they need. With such a powerful medium, comes great risks and rewards. Let’s manage them effectively and to our advantage. Thanks for your feedback!

  2. Ray, your post on e-recruitment brings to mind the many e-recruitment interactions I’ve had in my own job search. I’ve found that connecting with potential employers through Twitter and Facebook has led to an increased awareness of what the company is currently doing, what the company culture is like and who they are looking for. Marriott Career’s Twitter page is a great example of this. Furthermore, especially on Facebook, there is an added interaction with other interested candidates. For example, after applying to a government fellowship many who had applied posted on the fellowship’s Facebook page, congratulation those who had gotten it and consoling those who had not. I think e-recruitment adds a great deal to the employer and new hire experience, helping bring together better fits for companies and candidates because it helps both sides have a greater understanding of each other.

    1. Alina, thanks for sharing your experience! Sounds like Marriot’s e-marketing strategy is having a positive impact. Increased understanding of the company and the candidate is a great outcome for both parties!

  3. I totally agree with you to some degree. It is true that using e-marketing in your recruiting efforts is a great tool if it is used properly. If, on the other side, companies do not follow up on the requests or do not respond to emails, it could cause the whole opposite effect. I personally have some negative experiences with employment agencies that don´t do what they suppose to. In my job search I have applied for positions with requirements that almost describe me, positions with job descriptions that match my knowledge and abilities to the dot, and no one single call or email. I don´t know if the reason is just a poor use of the system or if they post the jobs without thinking on hiring anybody. Either or, the companie´s reputation is at risk, and one unhappy customer, like me, can cause a great damage due to negative word of mouth, and the infinite possibilities the internet provides to spread out this negative feeling.
    Again, e-recruiting can provide great results, save time and money, but in order to do that, the companies have to make sure they have in place the proper staff, with the proper knowledge and the clear mision that customers come first. That´s the key for success!!!

    1. Hi Raquel, thanks for your post. Technologies built for recruitment should make it easier for recruiters to provide better customer service in addition to other goals. But you are right, sometimes this might not be accomplished due to lack of resources. I would also add that this might happen due to simply not using the technology to its full potential, poor time management, lack of accountability, etc. That is why it is important to come up with service standards, train your recruitment team, and hold the team to these standards. Thanks!

  4. Aleister, interesting topic, nowadays the era of information in where you just go on the internet and find information. The use of social media for recruitment might be a bit risky in the sense that the recruiter will have a certain perception of the interviewer – meaning the opinion will be biased. And how is the “unbiased” opinion help the recruiter decide which is the best candidate. Go back to 20 years ago, none of this existed. Even some people nowadays do not believe in social media, they just don’t have a Facebook or Twitter type of account. I do understand how the recruitment industry is thinking, get the best candidate, get the most information as possible, but is ALL the information there is valid to be applicable?

    The current technology forces you to interact more with the companies, but until what point is it that employers want to interact? The key is to be sensible when posting something on the web, we have to remember that information is public. Either be a positive or negative interaction outcome it is up to the company to either do act on it or not. The question is until what point do recruiting companies are willing to go?

    1. Claudia, good point! Some information on a candidate’s profile does not relate to the job and should not be taken into account. As a matter of fact, the SHRM survey I mentioned in my post indicated that 53% of employers do not use social media for recruitment purposes over concerns of legal risks and discovering information protected under the law. In fact, more employers now are creating formal policies addressing the use of social networking sites to source candidates. Also, I would say biases have existed since the beginnings of time. A novice interviewer will fall prey to all types of bias. Info found in social sites could trigger these biases as well. But good recruiters should not fall prey to these.

  5. Companies should definitely take advantage of recruiting through social media platforms. What better way to learn about potential candidates and whether they are a right fit into the company’s culture than through candidates’ social media profiles and interactions. It provides more insight on a specific candidate which most interviews lack.

    1. Karla, despite all the controversy over using info on Facebook and other social sites, you are right! This Forbes article refers to an interesting study that finds a relationship between ratings of important performance predictors (however, based on the content of Facebook postings) and the new hires’ job performance. Interesting! Here is the link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/03/05/facebook-can-tell-you-if-a-person-is-worth-hiring/

  6. I recently read an article on WSJ of a company using their current employees social media network to fill their open positions. On certain Tuesdays they bring in laptops and go through their ‘lists’ and submit potential matches for the open positions. If a current employees’ referral get hired, that employees received a $1000. That same company hired over 150 people year and only one was from a recruitment firm. I think this is a great method especially for a growing company with a small Recruiting/HR department. The trend is definitely growing.

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