There is no such thing as “Social Recruitment”
The term social recruitment really bothers me. I’m a pretty literal chap and while I can see a lot of candidate sourcing takes place on ‘social media’ platforms it rarely ever gets truly social. I have read a good number of blogs and discussions about social media and recruitment and I never get the sense that there is a fluid connection between the words ‘social’ and ‘recruitment.’ I ran a google search on ‘Social Recruitment’ and as always Wiki came up with the first hit. The entry was telling: the quote below is the opening statement on Wikipedia, which has referenced Matt Alder’s blog in 2011:
“Social recruiting (social hiring or social media recruitment) is recruiting candidates by using social platforms as talent databases or for advertising. Popular social media sites used for recruiting include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Viadeo, XING, Google+ and BranchOut. Social recruiting is at the intersection of recruitment and social media.”
The two things that stand out for me are that the entry is relatively short with a definition that is 4 years old, not a bad thing in itself, but that there is a ‘notability’ warning that indicates that the page has been flagged for potential deletion if not given more weight i.e. secondary sources. Also, the definition honestly states that it is all about databases and advertising, whereas 4 years on in 2015, much of the advice from the sages of social recruitment is to avoid ‘broadcasting’ i.e. advertising vacancies.
I went back to my google search but the first couple of pages are filled with sites offering tips on how to improve your social media recruitment strategy / plan. So I thought I would go back to what social actually means. I found this definition on Merriam Webster:
: relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other
: liking to be with and talk to people: happy to be with people
: of or relating to people or society in general
I am quite prepared for many people to shoot me down here but let’s break this down and think about it from the candidate’s perspective. The first point is really interesting and I am going to be extremely literal (and very Gen X, the Gen Ys will cry!) but talking generally involves the use of one’s mouth which means meeting in person, using a phone or perhaps Skype (etc.). This isn’t ‘social recruitment,’ it is, well, erm…recruitment. It is attending meetings and/or interviews specifically with a recruiter or through general networking.
The second point ‘liking to be with,’ is where it gets really interesting and where there is a hard truth to be confronted. Most sane candidates are not a big fan of looking for a job. Granted, there are narcissists in every facet of life, but really, do you honestly think that candidates generally like the process of;
- Writing a CV.
- Editing your social media profile(s) to convey the sense that you are not an individual…that you don’t have colourful friends, opinions or a social life.
- Sharing detailed personal information with complete strangers.
- Being rejected by complete strangers.
- Completing online applications for jobs that are, to be honest, not always that exciting but require the candidate to massage the ego of the hiring company by telling them why their brand is the most exciting thing on the planet.
- Attending interviews that sometimes are wonderful experiences but all too often soul destroying for anyone over the age of 10.
- Doing all of the above under the attentive gaze of a recruiter (internal or agency).
- And repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
Do you really think that candidates like this, that they like looking for a job and talking to recruiters? Do you honestly believe that candidates ‘like to be with’ most recruiters. Of course the most salient point of all is that most candidates don’t like to advertise the fact, through open dialogue on a social platform, that they are engaging with a recruiter. With that in mind there are some very BIG obstacles to recruitment ever being particularly social.
Now, don’t get me wrong, many consultants in recruitment form extraordinarily strong bonds with their candidates, going on to become genuine friends. Sometimes this starts through an introduction on a social media platform. However, this doesn’t make the updates on LinkedIn, your tweets or your blog particularly social. Most interaction on these sites is between other recruiters and consultants to the industry. This is fine but it doesn’t constitute ‘social recruitment’ to me.
Social recruitment does indeed have a place and yes perhaps it occurs after a Digital introduction but; for any aspiring recruitment consultants looking to build a long term career, I would focus a little less on building a ‘social’ digital footprint and a little more on networking (face to face, physical, in the same room, literally, I really mean where you could actually touch each other) with candidates and getting to know them. When the next recession hits the only recruiters that will survive will be the ones with real, tangible, mutually beneficial relationships.
That said, all the advice on ‘social recruitment’ and how to use the various social platforms to interact with candidates and potential clients is absolutely of benefit. It’s the semantics (or maybe pedantics!) that bothers me.
“Digital recruitment” perhaps?