Growing a Return on Influence: Social Media Savvy and Recruitment

Cultural fit is both the glue that helps bind employees to the greater organizational purpose and the reason why people choose to work at certain companies. Most importantly, it is a quintessentially human element—and the means by which HR professionals can fuel potential and realize results throughout the business.

Fit From the Start: Active Recruitment
Communicating that culture in the bigger picture is a challenge faced by organizations of all sizes, making recruitment more of an ongoing meme than in the past. Recruitment activities such as employment branding and communications are strategic tools; they can also establish talent acquisition strategies and create processes that ensure managers hire employees who are the right culture fit for the company.

With the global labour market and the number of available workers shrinking, organizations know they need to adjust their approach to recruitment. There has never been a time where speed is of the essence and even online postings can go so far before they get tired or stale.

As the first step in the employment experience, effective recruitment allows HR to provide a good framework which exemplifies the company culture. An effective employment experience leverages marketing and communications to this end because prioritizing the experiential part changes the organization’s role from passive receiver awaiting prospective employees to that of an active influencer curating keen and willing talent.

Of Numbers and Needs
While some might say it can be a numbers-oriented exercise to find the best candidates, it is also just as important to thoroughly understand what the position’s true hiring needs are. Traditional recruiting has been employer-oriented and paid little attention to the candidate experience. Most of the old-school selection processes focused on the interviewer questions and everything the employer wanted. As a result, there was little heed to the candidate’s preferences or any attempt at finding a mutual “fit” between the parties.

With changing markets and mindsets, modern recruitment is focused a bit differently, and involves an understanding of the corporate culture based on shared values to uncover applicant motivation in greater detail and with deeper intent. As we encounter a tighter labour market where the pool of applicants has more choices, the quest for finding and growing great employees plays a more important role in organizations than before.

The 24/7, Walk-In World of Online
The employment experience is an under appreciated but powerful tool to the employer brand. We live in a story-driven world. Humans love to share experiences through their interpersonal relationships because it makes us feel connected to a greater community. From the time of the town crier to the age of Facebook and LinkedIn, people have always tapped into networks for their information.

Whether the information is reliable or just another viewpoint, prospective candidates want to find out as much as they can before applying for job vacancies. Drawing upon these informal “news feeds” has become the norm during active job search activities because humans like to seek the opinions of others.

In a “reputation economy,” the concept of employer branding as a recruitment tool is one that managers should embrace. Due to the prevalence and speed of online communication, social media networking is another level of influence relied upon by companies and candidates alike. Mirroring general opinion, online comments from previous employees posted on sites like Glassdoor have impact.

With the rise of social media, the future of marketing to the prospective employee is virtually at the recruiting team’s fingertips: low-cost, high-speed, influence driven, and powerful. The incoming generations (Y and Z) is all about creative out-of-the-box thinking and using multiple channels to figure things out. These workers have been brought up with access to everything through their devices. In short, the average Jane and Joe now have the word-of-mouth power to influence and to ignite; this makes all points of contact either could-be catalysts or catastrophes in a world of online, viral potential.

A Caveat About Social Media
Obviously, information obtained through social media can go both ways. In the past, except for those present at the event, the world at large would never have been made aware of what happens behind the company’s closed doors. With the (over)sharing of individual’s activities, every time a smart phone is recording there is a possibility of such scrutiny.

Recruiters can also inadvertently find out a lot more about an applicant than before. Inappropriate behaviour, pictures and videos posted can influence the company’s impression are fair game. Context aside, the emotional reactions can be swift and damaging to organizations and individuals alike.

This is where a business that has a HR mindset factored into the bigger recruitment and culture picture can work through its real and virtual networks to communicate with potential applicants organically on an ongoing basis. Moreover, HR professionals can encourage and champion internal ambassadors in their online initiatives to to showcase the benefits and atmosphere of the existing work environment—while keeping them apprised of any talent prospects through their own personal networks.

Posting pictures, sharing career pathways and overall benefits can all help promote the company to prospective candidates. By applying the human factors to the machine technologies, the traditional time-to-fill factor decreases while the quality of hire increases.

Transparency More Important Than Perfection
The workplace continues to change and adapt as employees use social media and other digital platforms to share information and perform their jobs. The speed of business and “real time” communications make the case for authenticity and transparency very important. While there is still a place for carefully crafted pubic relations messages, the continuity of truth prevails with the incoming work force, making the more “informal,” online world an invaluable or costly one.

The façade of the perfect organization with happy employees is an illusion. The key today is to be truthful and aware about the company culture and values. Prospective employees can come from everywhere—employee referrals, re-hires, family. People have different reasons to work and their motivations may vary but they will come and stay because the organization fits with their core values as these principles will tend to be constant.

HR as a Super Connector
When we consider the six degrees of separation as a paradigm for recruitment sourcing, both internal and external referral networks are golden. This highlights the need for leadership to pay more attention to the crucial links between culture, human resources and recruitment.

With our updated web tools and technologies, this “small world” aspect becomes more pronounced because the more people you know, the smaller the world becomes. How this connects of the six degrees of separation is simple and effective. The more people you know, the smaller the world becomes—and that connectivity is a culture in and of itself that HR professionals can tap into to further elevate our quantifiable ROI in the workplace.

Meaningful transformation is up to us to lead and shape. The HR mindset can eclipse the traditional time-to-fill metric when it creates talent streams/organizations grounded in shared passions, purpose and a bit of social media savvy.

As people and their actions will always define the workplace environment and culture, this is ultimately what job seekers are responding to when considering their next employer or career move. Savvy organizations can similarly leverage their own internal champions and experience to meet that seeker mid-way on a shared (and shorter) path to success.

Amelia Chan, CHRP, RCIC is founder and principal consultant of Higher Options Consulting Services, providing a wide range of HR and immigration services for small to mid-sized businesses.


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