Recently, I launched a new job search. In this search, I am attempting to use social media to a. crowd-source an opportunity, and b. display my enthusiasm for brands or companies I might like to work for. There is one specific organization I am very interested in that just announced they are hiring. Given my support for that organization, in which I hold cult-like fanboyism (if that’s even a word) for, I set about to launch a Twitter campaign through my Twitter base to ensure the company would get the hint that I’m looking and available.
Common sense says and some recruiters and experts suggest that if you advocate for yourself in social media by announcing your affinity and support for that organization, chances are some recruiter or hiring manager will see your Tweet or LinkedIn post and make contact with you to discuss your self-advocated candidacy.
In this not-so-new socially connected and dynamic online world, many experts advise candidates to “stand out” in some way or another. If you’re applying to an Internet-based business who operate chiefly in social media or reputation management, the experts say to use social media to gain the attention of an organization in an attempt to showcase your online chops.
While this advice might sound logical, for the job seeker who may also be a “brand ambassador,” using social media to advocate for yourself can backfire. For example, what if you already know people there?
If you do, Tweeting or posting online in a forum owned by that org may be deemed “annoying,” because that organization already knows who you are. And, they are possibly dealing with an onslaught of people who have the same idea you do. You are, all of a sudden, not so unique any more. You probably didn’t really need to start a massive Twitter campaign to self-advocate. Sure, you did it because you were excited about the opportunity to stand out, but if they know you already, then just an email expressing your interest to a key decision maker would have been the wiser choice.
And, don’t ask your contact to forward your resume to the “right person.” It’s an awkward thing for some people to do for you.
Just apply and then tell you contact you did with a brief note. If they feel like they should advocate for you, they will. There might be 100 other candidates asking the same favor of someone else.
Now, the responsibility should not lie solely on the job seeker when using social tools to post announcements. I’ve gone over the implications for the job seeker. What about the employer?
So, here are five tips to consider when using social media to source talent.
1. If you post a Tweet with a link your job board telling people that you are hiring, you have to expect that you are going to get pummeled in social media with candidates advocating for themselves–people trying to stand out. If you Tweet it out, expect to get hammered back. There’s no discussion. You can’t ignore it, so have an internal response strategy
2. If there is a way to ask that respondents not contact your employees through social media, then figure it out and do that. If you’re a social media company that denies a social opportunity to connect with the candidate, you are risking your brands reputation with “brand ambassadors” who love your product. Say something like, “We know many of you and you’re going to want to blast us with dm’s or mention us in your tweets, but it’s just going to make us less productive. If you could follow this process, we would appreciate it.” At least try to limit the respondents through social. I know it’s almost impossible…but, just try your best. Something is better than nothing.
3. If you’re on the inside and you know a candidate and they are using social tools to advocate for themselves, respond to that job seeker with positive words of encouragement as you direct them to follow the process. Using words like “annoying” in a direct twitter message can be misconstrued by the candidate that they are already perceived as being annoying, because the candidate may not realize the intended meaning of that message.
One of the biggest fears any job seeker has is the fear of being annoying or aggressive. In this American culture and a tight job market, those words are like the kiss of death, especially if the job seeker loves your brand so much they will advocate for you until they take their last breathe. Choose your reply carefully. Say something like, “Your enthusiasm is noted. Apply and we’ll make sure you are considered.”
I know it’s frustrating to get bombarded with Tweets, but this is the world we live in. Both the employer and the job seeker have a responsibility to each other. It’s only right.
4. I like companies that issue a candidate a reference number and a contact email address, private Twitter account, or private Facebook group that keep prospective candidates updated on their prospects for the job. Use social tools to communicate with applicants when their applications are going to be reviewed or when they have been reviewed. There is nothing worse than a brand ambassador being ignored by the company they love.
Sure, not every candidate is going to be that enthusiastic about your brand. I would think by the resume and cover letter, it’s clear who’s invested in your brand.
Now, this didn’t happen to me with my favorite company, but I raise the point to try and set the bar higher for the employment recruiting process.
5. Please abandon these archaic human resource management system (HRMS), like the one Time Warner uses (maybe it’s Taleo?). I can’t think of the name of it. I’m writing this post on my iPhone and can’t navigate to it. Well, I tried and forgotten password screen on mobile switching between apps is too much trouble.
Update: I checked the Time Warner Careers site and can’t find the name of the product. I think it’s Taleo, but I’m not sure.
No one likes to sign-up for 30 different CMS engines that can’t share content. I know I have a ton of accounts that I just can’t keep track of.
Linked in offers an elegant single sign-on solution that pulls your data from their system and populates the recruiters LinkedIn provided dashboard. I’ve been using this tool lately in some applications and it makes the process much faster and easier for the applicant.
In today’s competitive job market, you want to be nimble and offer applicants a great user experience. That experience will set the precedent, the attitude, and shape the good will of the organization.