When Social Recruiting isn’t Social…..

After over six years (I just counted them!) of banging the drum for social media in recruiting I sometimes feel I should be really pleased that the discussion has finally tipped into the mainstream. I’m noticing more and more that many large employers are looking much more seriously at how they can expand their activity beyond LinkedIn into Twitter and Facebook as well as other platforms and techniques. However I’m just finding myself getting more and more frustrated as somewhere along the line the whole idea of being social and the power of conversation is either being lost or deliberately disregarded. There is much I could write on this theme but thought for now it would be best to post an article I’ve just written for AGR regarding this whole topic in graduate recruitment:


After several years of hype and experimentation, 2012 was the year that social media began to move into the mainstream of graduate recruitment, but harnessing its huge audiences in an effective way remains challenging. Matt Alder, digital social and mobile strategist and founder of strategic advisory company MetaShift, sheds some light on how the industry can take charge…

With almost 100% penetration into the student audience, Facebook is undoubtedly the new “campus” in graduate recruitment, and Facebook’s importance will grow even further as tuition fees bite and many students study closer to home, potentially disrupting the notion of specific universities being focused talent pools for particular companies. Facebook gives employers the opportunity to create their own virtual talent communities that aren’t limited by physical geography.

There is some great work being done in this area by the likes of Unilever and Ernst and Young, and a growing number of companies recruiting graduates have a presence on Facebook. However, despite a lot of progress, there is a very long way to go before companies truly leverage this platform’s power. There are two key areas the industry needs to focus on for the future:

Community focus
Firstly employees need to see their Facebook pages as a community that transcends the traditional graduate hiring cycle and offers them a year wide opportunity to engage a broader target audience than just final year students. There seems to be a real trend towards running competitions that drive “likes” to company Facebook pages but often very little thought about what happens afterwards. I’ve seen employer pages with thousands of likes and no subsequent content or engagement beyond the initial competition. This is a huge missed opportunity and potentially brand damaging as there could be a perception that the employer doesn’t understand the channel or the behaviors of their target audience.

Understanding algorithms
Secondly having a basic understanding of Facebook’s “Edgerank” algorithm is absolutely vital for success. It is estimated that only about 10% of users who “like” a page will see content posted by that page in their news feed. With so much content being posted to the site, Facebook uses the Edgerank algorithm to target only the most interesting and relevant content to users. Videos and images are optimised over text based postings and the more likes, shares or comments a particular content post receives the more Facebook optimizes it. Of course likes, shares and comments also mean the content could be posted to the news feed of the friends of the user who is interacting, dramatically increasing its reach.

Facebook is obviously the biggest platform but it is not the only route to building conversation with potential graduate hires. Twitter, employer created communities and even LinkedIn all have enormous potential. Graduate recruiters should also remember that these platforms are about helping to create and curate conversation about their employer brands; they are not just another channel to broadcast corporate messages.

Mobile mania
Looking to the future, the most important thing for employers to consider as they develop their social media strategies is the vital role of mobile. The majority of social networking traffic comes from the mobile internet via smart phones. It is becoming increasing difficult to buy a mobile phone that doesn’t have internet access these days and there some great entry level products in the market working on the Android or Windows platforms. I believe almost the entire target market for graduate recruitment own a smartphone and this phone is the hub of all of their social media participation.

The implications of this are quite dramatic. Most graduate recruiters are attempting to direct traffic generated in social media platforms to their own recruitment websites. My own research has revealed that most companies do not have a mobile optimised or enabled website and are therefore delivering a poor or even non-existent user experience to a large number of their visitors.

At a recent conference I attended the head of talent acquisition for UPS said that their biggest mistake with social media was to start any activity before their mobile site had been developed, such was the positive level of its impact on their success. UPS are probably one of the most successful hirers of talent from social media in the world. It is a point well worth considering.

This article originally appeared in the December edition of the AGR Graduate Recruiter Magazine which you can view here

Launching the Mobile Recruiting Guide 2012 (free so download it now!)

So that was a long break from blogging, in fact I think my longest ever. It wasn’t intentional at all, I was just fully absorbed in a number of interesting projects! As anyone who follows my Twitter ramblings will know though, I’ve spent most of the last few months doing even more detailed research and thinking into the implications of mass smart phone adoption and the growth of Mobile Recruitment.The highlight of this was undoubtedly attending the mRec conference in Atlanta last month. It was both fascinating and encouraging to hear how quickly companies like Pepsico, UPS and Microsoft are moving forward and implementing mobile apply processes and see the significant progress they had all made with mobile in general since last year’s event in San Francisco. I’m going to write more about the different approaches to mobile apply soon, particularly as I’ve found an employer in the UK who is already doing it well!I still feel the biggest issue with Mobile Recruiting is a lack of knowledge in the market and there is certainly a lack of easily accessible accurate information to help people fully understand what’s going on. I’m absolutely committed to change this and want to create as many free resources as possible. With that in mind I’m delighted to announcement that Mobile Dave and myself have just published the free Mobile Recruiting Guide 2012. You can instantly download it below and no registration is required




The guide is longer and much more detailed than the whitepaper we published last year. It covers a variety of topics and you can see an extract here in Dave’s recent ERE article. As an added bonus I’ve also made a YouTube recording available of a webinar on Mobile Recruiting I did for members of The Firm at the start of the summer.

really hope you find a lot of value in these two free resources and it would be great to get everyone’s feedback on what additional information is needed to really get Mobile Recruiting moving!

How to be Social, Broken Recruitment and The Evolution of Employer Branding

I did a video interview a few weeks back with the lovely people at eScouter Magazine and wanted to share it here

Here is time coded guide to the content!

1 min 10 secs – Mobile Recruiting and why current application processes are broken

4 mins 23 seconds – What is going wrong with Social Recruiting and how it is actually being done effectively

7 mins 22 seconds – The evolution of the employment brand and the huge opportunities this is creating

Would love to know everyone’s thoughts. Do you agree or disagree?

Mobile First – What Recruiting can learn from the Facebook IPO

So like you I’m getting bored with hearing about all the fuss round Facebook’s IPO and extremely bored of some of the very ill-informed chatter claiming that a bodged IPO means the end of social networking as we know it and proof that is was a fad all along. This is not what this blog post is about

What this blog post is about is a theme that is starting to emerge from all the controversy, the huge issues with Facebook’s mobile platforms

Take a look at this graph from ComScore which details the percentage growth of mobile for the key social networking platforms in the biggest five European markets

As you can see mobile accounts for nearly half of Facebook’s European traffic and is by far its fastest growing platform. One of the key themes that has come out of the IPO controversy is Facebook’s difficulty in monetizing mobile. With it representing such a large part of its exist user base and future growth this is obviously a very big problem.

However, as any mobile Facebook users know, the problem goes much deeper than this. Facebook’s mobile apps are terrible. They are unreliable, slow and lacking in much of the functionality that the desk top users love. Contrary to popular belief though this isn’t necessary down to incompetence on Facebook’s part and it is also unfortunately not something that can be quickly fixed by rolling out new versions.

Although it is only 8 years old, Facebook was built and developed in the pre-smart phone era. The key issues that make mobile so difficult for them are the complexity of the site combined with an acute skill shortage at the cutting edge of mobile technology.

Sites like FourSquare and Instagram were created much later and built from a “mobile first” perspective. Being smaller start-ups it has also been perhaps easier for them to attract the best mobile talent as there is much more of a sense of input and ownership for employees than there is at bigger companies like Facebook

Without the benefit of a time machine Facebook can’t ever be a mobile first platform and all this certainly adds a lot of context to their recent Instagram acquisition.

So what is the lesson here for corporate recruiting? Well it is a fairly simple one – make your digital talent acquisition strategy “Mobile First”

Accessing the Internet via mobile devices will overtake desktop use at some point in the next two years. This is well within the lifespan of any corporate recruitment sites currently be developed.  Why would you then build a site that will alienate the majority of its users?  Thinking mobile first isn’t easy but I would argue that it is now essential.

Recruitment tends to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to adopting new technologies so this actually gives us the benefit of the time machine that Facebook doesn’t have. Now is a great opportunity to use this to our advantage by looking, learning and adapting accordingly

Recruiting Innovation 2012 – Video Interviews Launch Today

I’m delighted say that the nine video interviews I recorded during my US trip in March have gone live on YouTube today.

You can see them here now.

As you may remember I spent March in Silicon Valley researching Recruiting Innovation and talking to a number of recruiters, thought leaders and technology providers. I discovered a huge amount across a range of topics but a few things came up time and time again:- the death of the employer brand as we have known  it, how social tools are being embedded into the recruitment process, the role of big data in recruiting, the ubiquitous mobile web and interestingly the potential future importance of Facebook.

The interviews I recorded capture a lot of this thinking in action and I’ll be writing a blog post with my thoughts round each interview individually over the coming weeks. My thoughts will also be appearing on Changeboard who I’d like to thank for their help in distributing the videos. I’m also planning a whitepaper which I’ll publish in late June or early July.

For now though I thought it would be appropriate to introduce the series and the interviewees via another video blog:

Recruiting Innovation 2012 – Mobile, Video and the Irrelevance of Text

So this is the latest and last video blog from my Recruiting Innovation research trip. I’ve now got nine very interesting video interviews recorded which I’ll start posting after Easter. Thanks very much to everyone who has helped me and made me very welcome on this trip. See the video below for some thoughts on the relationship between social, mobile and video and why text heavy corporate recruitment sites are now completely pointless!

Recruiting Innovation 2012 – Big Data, Dead Job Boards and Skill Shortages

Due to popular demand the video blogging continues! I’m now two weeks into my trip and spending a few more days finishing up in San Francisco before heading to San Diego and ERE Expo (get in touch if you’re going and want to talk innovation).

This week I’ve met with John Sumser, Work4Labs, Smart Recruiters, LinkedIn, Facebook and Foursquare and had some very interesting conversations. Watch the video to find out more:


Recruiting Innovation 2012 – Employer Branding and Mobile

So I actually got some nice feedback from my first attempt at video blogging on this trip. Suitably encouraged I’ve decided to post another video update.

Since I published the last video I’ve had great meetings with Master Burnett, William Uranga, Brad Cook and John Sumser and have captured some great video interview footage that will be posted in April.

All four conversations were quite different but there was certainly consensus on the current meaning of employer branding and the use of the mobile. Watch the video below to find out more……

Recruiting Innovation 2012 – First Video Blog

So my trip is now well under way and before I left the UK a couple of people suggested that I do a daily video blog. Now video blogging and me have traditionally not gone together well so I was slightly unsure. However I thought it might be worth doing a couple of short updates at the very least so here is the first one. NB it was recorded under the influence of severe jet lag, I hope you can’t tell!

Recruiting Innovation 2012 – My US Research Trip

Another quick blog post (two in two days has to be a first!) just to mention my trip to San Francisco which starts next week. I’m spending the rest of March in the USA doing some serious research into what recruitment innovation is starting to look like in 2012. I’m going to be meeting a number of recruiters who are using some interesting techniques and suppliers who have some unique offerings.

As well as reporting back here on the blog I’ll be creating some exclusive content for my friends at Changeboard.com and may well also distribute my thoughts and findings via a whitepaper and / or webinar in April. I’m sure I’ll share more details on this as the trip unfolds…..

I’ve already got some great meetings lined up but I’m convinced I must still be overlooking some important people so if you are in the Bay Area and want to get involved, or if you have a recommendation of someone I should speak to, then please get in touch with me on matt@metashift.co.uk. I’ll also be attending ERE Expo in San Diego later on in the month and I’m hoping to have a lot of great conversations there as well.

Suffice to say MetaShift is still very much open for business while I’m away so if there is anything we can do to help with your digital, social or mobile strategy then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!