New Recruiting Era Brings Changes for Job Seekers

By Toni Vranjes

March 29, 2011

In the future, your relationship with corporate recruiters may be a lot different than it is today.

A massive shift in the recruiting industry is underway, and it will have major implications for you, the job seeker. Traditional recruiters are slowly being replaced by “emotional marketers,” who seek to build authentic emotional ties with job candidates. And job seekers will need to reciprocate, by getting involved in companies’ social-media efforts and being honest about their career needs and goals.

The new model was highlighted in San Diego last week at the ERE Expo, a high-profile gathering of corporate recruiters. During the keynote presentation, prominent recruiter Matthew Jeffery discussed the trends that are shaking up the industry.

Matthew Jeffery at the ERE recruiters' conference. Photo by Peter Clayton.

For companies to succeed in the global war for talent, they’ll need to embrace the new “Recruitment 3.0” model, he said. A key element is developing a brand that creates an emotional attachment to the company. By doing this, companies can attract and retain the best talent.

“Recruitment is going to be an art,” Jeffery said.

To reach that ideal, however, traditional recruiters need to be jolted out of their complacence. He calls the conventional approach “Recruitment 1.0,” and he says it’s the lazy method. This approach relies heavily on recruitment agencies and job boards. Recruiters call an agency and wait for it to find job candidates, and they post openings on job boards and hope the right person sees them and applies.

In Recruitment 1.0, companies don’t bother to create strong emotional ties with job candidates, Jeffery said. If the company hires one of these candidates, that person might not be the best employee and might not even stick around for long – because of the lack of deep emotional connection to the company.

The goal of Recruitment 3.0 is to overcome the shortcomings of the traditional approach, by building authentic relationships with the community.

Recruitment 3.0 is based on several premises, noted Jeffery, head of talent acquisition and global employment brand at software maker Autodesk Inc. One is the importance of “passive” candidates – those who aren’t actively seeking a job. About 90 percent of the people who are best suited for a particular job aren’t looking at the moment, he said. So the best candidate may not be found through a recruitment agency or a job board. In fact, the best candidate may not have ever heard of the company. Everyone is a potential candidate — including consumers, Jeffery noted.

Successful companies will learn how to attract the best candidates. To do that, companies need to create an emotional attachment to their brand. Jeffery defines the “employment brand” as people’s “gut feelings” about whether they want to work for a company. He emphasizes that people want relationships with people — not faceless companies. So the employer needs to “humanize” the brand.

That kind of thinking is a radical departure from Recruitment 1.0, which states that companies create their own brand through advertising, logos and other strategies. The new recruiting philosophy states that – in the era of social media – companies don’t control what the public is saying about them. People are out there talking about them — and companies aren’t in charge of the process.

Matthew Jeffery at ERE Expo. Photo by Peter Clayton.

Under the traditional recruitment model, an employer might be content to post only job listings on its Facebook page. Or the company might go to YouTube and post a few polished corporate videos, featuring the CEO “looking like he is caught in the headlights,” according to one of Jeffery’s memorable slides.

But that’s not going to cut it anymore, he emphasized. The new proactive approach uses social media to develop meaningful relationships with the community.

“Relationships are built by two-way communication,” Jeffery said.

If a company uses social media effectively, it can build communities of potential hires and corporate evangelists. More people will want to work for the employer, and more people will be genuinely impressed with the company.

“Those communities are so, so valuable, because those are the people who will sing, dance and shout about your company,” he said.

His suggestions:

• A company’s blog should be the anchor of its social media. It should be fully integrated with all of the employer’s social networks. The blog should feature compelling content, including behind-the-scenes stories about life at the firm. Free speech should rule on the blog. The company shouldn’t delete comments, unless they’re inflammatory. If some of the visitors criticize the company, the firm’s supporters hopefully will reply and defend it.

• The company’s Facebook page should entertain visitors and engage them in discussion. Ideally, it would be a true social network of friends.

• On LinkedIn, the company should aim for intellectual discussions with “informed” communities.

• On Twitter, the company could engage the public by allowing many different employees to “tweet.”

• For YouTube, the company should hand the camera over to its workers. They can create funny, lighthearted videos showing life inside the firm.

• The employer should create applications for the iPhone, iPad and other mobile devices.

With all social media, the goal is to create compelling content that makes people want to visit the site again.

One challenge that companies face is deciding how to address scandals and mistakes. Jeffery insists that honesty is the best policy. Through social media, companies should acknowledge any mistakes they’ve made and discuss how they’re going to fix the problems. By being transparent and up-front, the company will build trust with the community.

As recruiters seek to build these deep emotional ties, job seekers ideally will reciprocate, Jeffery told Revive My Career. If you’re eyeing a potential employer, learn as much as possible about the corporate culture and see if it would be a good fit for you. One way to do that is by getting involved in the company’s social media.

“When you have a company Facebook page, it’s about those job seekers that go on there, state their views, join in the communities, and really get to know the people involved,” Jeffery said. “It’s a two-way conversation.”

If you land a job interview, research the company beforehand. Also, be honest about your career goals, expectations and salary requirements, he advises. The more straightforward you are as a job seeker, the better it is for the employer.

For its part, the company should try to make candidates feel relaxed, so they feel free to be honest and authentic.

“The job seeker should make sure they have a thorough understanding of the company, its culture, and go in armed with many questions,” Jeffery said. “It’s a two-way, transparent process.”

In this way, the employer and the job seeker can develop an open, trusting relationship. However, that doesn’t mean you need to talk about personal information, such as marital status or whether you have children.

It’s up to job seekers to decide whether they want to discuss that type of information with employers, Jeffery said. Recruiters should never try to elicit that information. Instead, they should focus on whether the candidate can do the job and will fit in with the corporate culture.

“It’s about building that relationship of trust, in terms of a professional relationship between the two,” he said.

Jeffery emphasizes that Recruitment 3.0 is an ideal. A small number of companies have reached that ideal stage, but at many corporations, it’s not a reality yet. Already, internal conflicts are arising with corporate marketing and PR about what messages can – and can’t – be said.

“Very, very few are doing it the way it should be done,” he said. “I think most companies can learn a thing or two about it.”

Despite the resistance, he believes the new recruiting philosophy ultimately will triumph.

To see video of Matthew Jeffery speaking at the ERE Expo, visit the official conference site.

To hear a podcast interview with Matthew Jeffery, visit Total Picture Radio.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply