The Social Recruiting Debate – Why I’m leaving it

Well the debate is well and truly up and running now. You can’t open Twitter these days without seeing the full range of opinion…”everyone must implement social recruiting now”,” social recruiting is a dangerous fad”,” social recruiting doesn’t exist”, “lets just call it recruiting”, “ get your recruiters off twitter and back on the phone”, “get your recruiters off the phone and on Twitter”, “Job boards are dead”, “job boards aren’t dead” etc etc etc.

Now while this debate can be interesting it is just that, debate and speculation. It is also debate that deals almost exclusively in generalisations and exists in an echo chamber that still hasn’t reached the mainstream although it is edging ever closer.

I’m bored with it and I’m not playing anymore

So what am I focusing on?

Well you only have to look at the utterly astonishing rate of social media adoption across diverse demographics to see that we are living through a communication and networking revolution, if you want to debate that then I’m sorry I’m not listening just have another look at the figures. The real question for me is how this revolution is actually being felt in the parts of recruitment space it has reached. I’m not interested in generalised debate based on people’s own self interest, alleged guru status or guess work, I’m interested in what is actually happening.

That’s why I’ve been collecting case studies on this blog. I’ve recently identified another four strategic social recruiting examples that I will write up at some point and have some emerging work coming through from my own clients.  As well as looking at the actual social strategies these progressive companies have successfully (and yes they are successful) adopted, my major fascination is how they were actually implemented within the context of that company’s individual organisation and culture. Despite what the Twitter generalisation merchants would have you believe, my experience of working with hundreds of companies over the years has told me that each one operates in a unique way. So there are actually two different things going on here and two different areas in which to learn from those companies that are already up and running with social recruitment. Firstly what are they doing that works and secondly how did they get to do it within their company in the first place.

You might be the most networked knowledgeable Twitter user in the world but you aren’t going to get anywhere strategically if your company is still banning access to Twitter. There are going to be a number of strategic stages of development to get through before you can be another Microsoft or Best Buy. Moreover you might never get there but you might get somewhere else just as interesting

Although every company is different I believe that modeling those that are successful in this space in detail will give those that haven’t figured things out yet a series of potential maps that might just get them further on their inevitable social journey. In fact, with some help from some very clever people, I’ve already started this modeling process

So that’s what I’m focusing on and I’m already very excited by what I’m seeing. If you are interested in working with me then take a look at the MetaShift site and let’s talk because in the end talking is what this is all about

11 responses to “The Social Recruiting Debate – Why I’m leaving it

  1. So much to agree with Matt.
    Yet, a communicating and networking revolution? – overall – Almost Yes. In recruitment? – Definitely No.

    `Social Recruiting` is a phrase I don’t use very often – yet actually its what I do every day of my life. Hell I’ve placed more than a dozen people since January through social media networking alone. But the `Social Recruiting` circle remains a very static crowd of social-adopting service providers/experts to recruiters with occasional additions. Recruitment has not bought this revolution, and even when it tries, it fails. Badly – by not understanding `social` protocol.

    I am excited when I genuinely see recruitment businesses use social to create a wave that sets the social circle on fire. @BarryFurby of Fresh Resources is the one genuine example of `Social Recruiting` amongst active recruiters. I hear people say `such-and-such agency placed a job through YouTube once` – well whoopy-doo! – did they completely change their recruiting philosophy to adopt `social recruiting`? – I doubt it. Will they place jobs regularly through YouTube? – I doubt it. Depends on their sector.

    Lets get real. Corporate Global businesses are successfully adopting social media as part of their marcomms strategy, and in some rare cases, adopting social media in their recruitment strategy.

    Corporate Recruitment businesses are not. They daren’t. Too much that is out of their autocratic control and ownership. Hell most of them are still adapting to using email!!
    Some independent businesses do give it a really good go – I know many examples of this. Some failed and cleared off, others persist – but with limited impact. Some will just never learn.

    I think there has to be a reality check about `social recruiting`. It’s not happening on any great scale. Lets be fair, neither is social media in the corporate business world. Yet. But it’s bubbling fast.
    Facebook and Twitter numbers mean nothing. Only 10% of users actively engage in these platforms on a week by week basis.

    Where Matt is particularly absolutely right, is that it is what you DO that matters, but it needs a total shift that 95% of recruiters are just not comfortable with, or daren’t take on board.

    Social Recruiting is not dead, it’s merely embryonic – and that needs patience, and a grasp of reality about its capabilities.

  2. I mostly agree Steve and thanks as ever for the considered comment. Although I’m not sure your 10% figure is actually right for Facebook 😉

    What I’m really saying is that I’m taking the personal choice to focus on those companies who are already “socially recruiting” and those that want to (and yes it is a minority). It’s a personal choice and not meant to be judgmental in any way. I did the same back in 2000 with online recruitment and it helped keep me sane!

    I genuinely believe that social will effect 99% of all recruitment at some point in the future but I couldn’t tell you when that some point will be accurately. Although it will most likely be years and not months! In the meantime I’m going to focus on companies that are doing or want to do (which includes a lot of organisations who face some of the barriers you mention) rather than debating who isn’t doing

  3. I understand your call, but the `debate` needs people like you to enlighten. To get to that 99% dream, there needs to be a heck of a lot of debating and enlightening.
    Technology will move 100 times faster than the archaic recruitment industry – so your 99% will never happen – after several strategy meetings and board meetings, it’ll eventually agree to use Twitter in 2015 when the rest of us have all moved on… 🙂

  4. I’m still going to seek out and publish hard to find case studies (and feature my own) and provide content. In fact I’m speaking at an event today to show people what is possible. I’m just not getting embroiled in Twitter echo chamber debates that are so generalised they are meaningless! This is going to happen (eventually) so I’d rather focus on the positive than the negative

  5. At our office, we’re working on a social recruitment strategy for one of our clients, and it’s amazing how it challenges you to rethink HR.

    That is the reason why so many companies hesitate and continue to talk empty is because social recruiting does not work if you just use standard recruiting techniques in social media.

    Social recruiting requires a total shift and change: it is about engaging with users who talk and share, instead of sending out a message; it’s about offering unique social objects, relevant content, and it challenges their jobs on every level, almost everything they used to know does not work anymore – even if they are recruiting for a major corporate brand.

  6. Fair play Matt – must say I’ve been quite bored of the whole debate for some time! Let’s just get on with it, shall we? And if you don’t want to – fine.

    It’s much like the climate change debate – too many people spend their energy debating whether or not its happening in the first place, rather than taking action based on their viewpoint.

    Actions speak louder than words, don’t they?

  7. Excellent post Matt. I think the interesting part is that much of this debate happens offline. The people using Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or YouTube or whatever else for work get it and may still debate. The debate is great, however, the people who are most impacted by this debate aren’t on these social networks or a part of the conversation. Debating is worth while and excellent ideas will come out of these conversations. But having these conversations with those not on the social networks and how it may positively affect them and/or their business really IS the great debate.

  8. nice post – happy to share our clients social recruiting case studies with you – some good – most embryonic or neutral – none bad/damaging waste of cash. Jimmy from BNT has invited me into your soho den so maybe catch up then.

  9. Matt, I still haven’t figured out what the big hype is all about.
    When I was recruiting engineers some 15 years ago for a recruiting company, we were taught that to be a successful recruiter we had to grow our own pool of candidates, follow them through the years and stay connected to them regularly. All that without an internet connection.

    It seems to me that social recruiting is about having the same conversations and social connections but demultiplied by social networks.

    Weak links are easier to maintain with Social Networks.
    Looking forward to reading your case studies

  10. Hi Matt, I’m a long-time follower of your blog since seeing you speak a couple of years ago.

    How are these case studies coming along? (Have I missed you publishing them.) Like you, I agree that the time for opinions is over and I’d be very interested to see some genuine social recruiting case studies as opposed to all the anecdotal information we see across the internet.

  11. Hi Jon

    No you’ve not missed anything. I still have them but have had a crazy few weeks and just haven’t had the spare time to write them up! Will have some stuff up soon hopefully


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