“By Grads for Grads” – Social Recruiting from Unilever

I’ve been slightly disappointed lately with the quality of Social Recruiting case studies coming through and this is why I haven’t featured any on the blog for a while. Although some great work is being done, many organizations are just focusing on “social job distribution” and in so doing are missing many of the key advantages that social is bringing to recruitment. With this in mind I was delighted, while doing some work for them just before Christmas, to get an insight into how Unilever are setting about making their UK graduate recruitment properly social.

Before going into the detail of the tactics and channels Unilever are using, it is important to reflect on the strategic thinking and resource planning round their social tag line “By Grads for Grads”.  Unilever has recognized that to be effective in the social space they have to have a genuinely authentic conversation with their graduate audience rather than talking at them as the majority of graduate recruiters still seem to do. Instead of using an advertising agency to “manage” their activity Unilever have put together a digital team of previous graduate recruits to run the social channels and be responsible for answering questions while keeping the conversation flowing.

Having current grads help recruit the next year’s intake is nothing new but Unilever are one of the few companies I’ve come across using social technologies to extend the reach of such an initiative. By putting such a resource in place I feel Unilever are in a fantastic position to be transparent about any gap between their employer brand perception and their employer brand reality.

The execution of the strategy runs mainly across Facebook and Twitter. There has also been the recent addition of a growing YouTube channel of video content. It’s great to see an employer really thinking about the importance of conversations and while the content does play an important role, Unilever aren’t blindly taking assets from their website and dumping it onto Facebook in the same way some of their competitors do!

As this is a fairly new initiative it is slightly early to be able to analyze the results. This is also an evolving strategy rather than a one off campaign and more sophisticated measurement techniques are currently being put in place to assess the true long term value of the approach.

Stella Maerker who helps run the digital graduate team has this to say about the success of the campaign:

“We can see a steady increase of followers and fans. Click through rates from the social media pages to the careers website and vice versa prove growing traffic. Applicants will be asked about our social media pages during application process. The real success will be number of successful graduates that got attracted to Unilever by interacting with current grads online!”

While I’m sure some purists (if you can have such a thing in a brand new field!) might criticize the comparatively low number of followers I think this is actually irrelevant at this stage of an ongoing initiative. Unilever have gone for a quality rather than quantity approach and the time spend considering their long term strategy and allocating dedicated internal resources are bound to pay dividends in the long term as social becomes their most important channel for graduate recruitment.

There are of course huge challenges in applying this kind of approach to a broader selection of Unilever’s recruitment activity but Unilever are committed to doing soon. As their Global Resourcing Director Paul Maxin says:

“Digital and social media is a key enabler to the way Unilever builds an engagement based approach to our employment brand equity. We’ll continue to integrate it, providing candidate-centric platforms that build advocacy of our employment brand and scale the approach both regionally and globally.”

10 responses to ““By Grads for Grads” – Social Recruiting from Unilever

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention “By Grads for Grads” – Social Recruiting from Unilever « Recruiting Futurology -- Topsy.com

  2. Very interesting to see somebody take this approach. It reminds me of what Ernst & Young have done using Facebook in the USA, which stands by as one of the original successful social media campaigns in my mind. Well done Unilever!

  3. Call me a stick in the mud Matt (there may be children reading), but in the current climate of vast youth unemployment, a company like Unilever is going to attract graduates whether they go social or advertise on the back of a fag packet.

    I’m still waiting for A N Onymous & co. rather than household name plc to come along with a revealing success story about how social works for them and cannot possibly be ignored by companies who are not either household names or on the FTSE or Times lists of companies to work for.

    I think it’s great to have as an add on channel, I really do, but I’d wager it only really works for the BBCs, Virgins, Unilever’s, Apple’s etc. of this world. Of course if someone could show me a place where all these testimonials from lesser lights live, I’d happily read them.

  4. Fascinating initiative. As someone who works in social media / digital marketing AND recruitment, I’ve seen much more of this type of strategy start to evolve. You hit the proverbial nail precisely on the head when you reference ‘quality vs quantity’.

    Those in recruitment will know that we only need ONE application for every job we post on a job board – the right one. The same ethos applies to social recruiting. 20 engaged, motivated graduates that engage with the Unilever brand and fill roles within the business are worth infinitely more than 1,000 ‘followers / fans’ who sit there dormant.

    In terms of ROI, social media CAN deliver against set objectives, despite the perceived ‘lack’ of measurement ability. Unilever have clearly set out to utilise social media channels to recruit fresh graduate talent, which they have seemingly achieved through this initiative – return on investment delivered.

    And in terms of recruiting graduates, social media will become ever more prominent with each passing year. An average graduate in 2010 will have been 15 when Facebook was launched – in short, they will have literally grown up using the platform. At the risk of sounding a little too like David Brent, those going fishing should cast their lines into a river.

    Which seems to be a strategy Unilever is employing to good effect.

  5. At last some real engagement from an employer. There is so much talk about social media and I agree with you Matt that many are just limiting this activity to job feeds, if that, and it is great to see someone use social media properly. Great idea to have their own grads in their digital team. They will relate better to other grads and understand what it is that will attract them – great employer brand advocacy. Brilliant!

  6. Cheers Matt!

    I have spent hours this week trying to find a recent case study of how a company is using and embracing social media for recruitment campaigns.

    I had almost given up when…. Finally one with wings and for grads too!! I am sure all the careers advisors at Leeds Met will be really interested to hear what Unilever are doing when I present tomorrow 😉

    Brilliant – All tributes to you!


  7. In terms of recruiting graduates, social media will become ever more prominent with each passing year. There is so much talk about social media and I agree with you Matt that many are just limiting this activity to job feeds, if that, and it is great to see someone use social media properly.
    Thank You

  8. Pingback: The Future of Graduate Recruitment « Recruiting Futurology

  9. Dear Matt,

    I was very inspired by your analysis on the Unilever’s case study and its true that it is relatively tough to find strong case studies at the moment. Can I request to share your article on my company’s newsletter and redirect to your sight? I think it will be a good reference point for my fellow colleagues.

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