Am I Mashed-Up or Just Fried: A Journey Into Social Recruiting (Part 5)

Chris Carlson

Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc
Blogs from Christopher Carlson

About two months ago now, our team had our annual Spring Strategy Session. During this session, we reviewed data, as we always do, and started to think about 2014-2015 activities.  However, this year was unique because we invited our digital marketing team, our recruiting marketing team, and our learning and development team to join us.

It was a great!   We did a deep-dive on designing our approach to social recruiting through every stage from “awareness” to “conversion” for both the general audience and the targeted audience.  We became more aware of how to reach and influence candidates. We looked more closely at how we leverage each category of recruitment marketing—paid, owned, and earned.

Several key initiatives resulted from that session across each of those categories.  One of the most consuming of which is content development.  How do we ensure compelling content for those we are recruiting for short-term demand and those we want to engage for future demand? We had a few a-ha moments for sure and thought we had covered a lot of ground.  My head stopped spinning as much as it had in the past.

Then came #NACE14, right on the heels of our session.  BAM! My head started spinning again.  There were several sessions that really provided additional insights into customizing digital content to specific audiences. In addition, there were a few sessions that added to my playlist of words that are sure to be used by my team as part of new drinking games. Of special note would be two specific sessions (don’t worry, I will not plug my own) that I found of great interest that helped me understand more about content and how it can drive recruiting.

“Content is king, but context rules” was not only a great quote from Tammy Garmey from TMP in the Candidate Experience 3.XO session, but became my personal battle cry since leaving #NACE14. In the session she co-presented with Joe Howell from EMC2, they discussed how EMCbuilt a personalized digital content delivery experience for candidates. They showcased the technology platform they leveraged that would sort through the vast amount of content available and present what would be meaningful to a specific candidate.  The technology leverages information about the candidate and suggests content.  Big data and advanced analytics and all sorts of concepts come into play.

Whether your realize it or not, you and I are already seeing this approach applied to us every time we open our browsers or log onto a social media tool.  There is an  advertisement—on your screen probably right now—that someone thinks will be of interest to you based on your online behaviors, cookies, and other key data.   This workshop really brought it home to me that it is so critical to think about how you manage your content and more importantly how you deliver that content in a personalized way. We need to think about attracting the computer science major differently from the history major, just like we would on campus in person. Again, in social recruiting, one size does not fit all.

One of the other great sessions focused on gamification, my new favorite word. It was a SmartTalk given by Danelle DiLibero of RMS. She walked us through how RMS partnered with the developer of a very popular online game that had a direct correlation to their business. They embedded key messaging into the game that would provide real insight into the type of work that RMS does, as well as links to their careers site. Their efforts supported their culture of innovation and provided a vehicle for their employee value proposition. I can definitely see the benefit of this approach. Our team has had greater success with supporting competitions than we have at career fairs. My head is still swirling with the possibilities as our firm is about problem solving for our clients and we look for people who have a passion for solving problems.

It is going to be a fun year as we continue to evolve and formalize our approach to social recruiting, especially after #NACE14 and I will continue to share stories of our progress. On the day I wrote this blog, my Yahoo horoscope confirmed that it is going to be fun: “It’s a great day to try big, crazy ideas—even if they seem too big or crazy to work out. Consider it a day of experimentation and you are sure to learn some new, valuable things.”   Look out y’all it might get a little crazy!

This is the fifth in a series of blog about using social media in recruiting.

Introverts Guide to #NACE14

Chris Carlson

Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc

Taking a break from my social recruiting series to share some thoughts for my fellow introverts attending #NACE14.

On most tests, I am an “off-the-charts” introvert who takes after his father. There are people who write “don’t eat alone” and who encourage you to network, network, network. Not me. I don’t know about my fellow introverts, but I like a little quiet time to recharge the batteries before going back into a room of hundreds of people. I eat alone quite often, especially when I have been around a lot of people. It helps me relax and renew.

So, here are my introverted best practices for conference survival:

  1. Schedule quiet time throughout the dayGo to the NACE Conference Scheduler and pick out your absolute must-attend workshops and see if you can carve out some quality time for yourself in between those sessions.
  2. Be selective with your networking timeDon’t try to meet everyone, but in good introvert style, get to know a few individuals really well; connect with someone you want to get to know better.
  3. Don’t be afraid to find quiet corners at a receptionTry to entice someone to speak with you one-on-one rather than insert yourself in a circle of individuals talking. If you want, you can talk to me as I am usually quietly positioned in a corner.
  4. GO BIG at least once during the conferenceGrab a group of friends and get out on that dance floor and dance, I say, dance!
  5. Spend more time networking one-on-oneIt is easier to strike up a conversation with someone sitting next to you before/after a workshop than in a big networking session, so start there. Make a point to meet at least one new person and get to know him/her really well each day.
  6. Get outside and take a walkThe Riverwalk is an introvert’s dream come true, as there are many stretches with beautiful scenery and not a lot of people. I know from experience. It can be a very calming and relaxing spot.
  7. Above all else, spend time learning and connecting.  As introverts, we don’t have to meet everyone, just a few people who we will get to know very well.

Looking forward to seeing you all at #NACE14 in San Antonio! Look for me in a corner or at a table by myself and come say hello. Stay tuned for more insights into my journey into social recruiting as well as observations from the conference.

Don’t forget, I am presenting on Tuesday. The session is entitled “Everyone is a Recruiter” and will look at building social recruiting practices and engaging your employee base to help ensure success. (“Everyone Is a Recruiter” will be presented on Tuesday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. See the #NACE14 Itinerary Builder for details.)

Attend Christopher Carlson’s session and take a selfie with him! A selfie with a session presenter is one of the 10 items to collect in the #NACE14 Scavenger Hunt!

 

Am I Mashed Up or Just Fried? A Journey Into Social Recruiting (Part 4):

Chris Carlson

 

Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc

I am happy to report that my team has created a new drinking game based on my journey into social recruiting. They have to drink every time I use the word “webinar”.   Webinars have become an obsession of mine as I view them as a way to have virtual engagement and I think serve as a strong vehicle for sharing information. They also allow us to harness the enthusiastic employee base that we have and I have been so thrilled with the willingness our employees to participate in our initiative. I do feel for my team though as several of our team meetings have ended up looking like a TV network program scheduling meeting and I am sure my colleagues racked up quite a large number of drinks (not during work, of course). Part of my obsession comes from the need to address the objectives I discussed in Part 3 of my series and serve as a primary vehicle to address one of the two components of social recruiting that I see as essential.

From my perspective, there are two critical components of building a social recruiting strategy. The first is really about content and how you push your message out there or “branding”. To start down this path, we looked at different components of traditional campus recruiting and discussed how they translate into a virtual world. The content that is developed for the virtual world needs to be both engaging and compelling so that individuals will return time and time again.

That component takes some time to develop as you need to think about

  1. how you feed your message across all the outlets,
  2. how you highlight your employee value proposition, and
  3. how will you enhance the candidate’s experience?

You can’t just tweet: “We have jobs!” or “Hey you! Here is a job for you”. People will get bored with that very quickly. There will be a need to translate the key messaging from your traditional campus information session into virtual messaging and balance that messaging with your technical and functional expertise that you share in classroom presentations or case competitions.

You also have to think about how to touch as many candidates if not more with these messages in quick hits like a career fair and then drive those connections into actual pipeline.  There are a number of companies out there that do a tremendous job with this component and have been doing so for a while so it is important to think about how to set yourself apart. It was this component that led to my team’s new drinking game.

The second component from my perspective is one that many old school recruiters may appreciate—“direct sourcing”. As you may recall, I grew up in recruiting and learned how to start with a list of five names and turn those into a pipeline and this background is the cornerstone of my recruiting philosophy.

I think the sound of directly source to identify talent in the college recruiting world doesn’t always seem like a popular approach with some people for a variety of reasons. However, it is what I know and is always forefront in my mind. I know that I want computer science majors who have internships, so I am going to go after those candidates. There was a time in our team’s past where they wouldn’t let me get a hold of a resume book because they knew I would be contacting candidates into the wee hours of the night and I would be firing off e-mails to the team with candidates who responded with interest.

I truly believe once a recruiter, always a recruiter. So you and I both know that there are candidates out there who don’t want to go to a webinar and for that matter, do not want to go to an in-person career fair, but they are candidates we still want to reach. I guess if you sat in a hallway on campus with some donuts you might reach some of them (I know I ALWAYS stop for a donut), but that is going to require a lot of donuts and a lot of manpower in a lot of hallways.

NACE reported that there are more than twice as many jobs for computer science graduates as there are graduates. So part of our strategy is about direct outreach. I will be honest: we are still reviewing and testing a variety of methods and tools other than me staying awake all night e-mailing every computer science student, and I don’t want to give away too much about some of our thinking around this one. Suffice to say, you have to spend some time thinking about this one.

Looking at how to integrate these two components has kept me up many a night. You are not going to be able to recruit a candidate if you don’t have a compelling employee value proposition or brand. Likewise, you can brand yourself all day long, but you may not ever reach the candidate pool you want without some good old-fashioned direct sourcing. So as I watch a variety of reruns and infomercials late into the night, I sit and wonder how to feed the student’s need to feel engaged if I don’t go to campus. In essence, how do I offer that virtual donut? (Mmmmmmm….donuts) And that, my friends, is our greatest challenge and where I think the greatest transformation within university recruiting is taking place—tapping into the social networks.

Look out for additional entries highlighting my journey into social recruiting. As a reminder, I am presenting on this topic in more detail at #NACE14. Also, if any of you want to connect to share stories or best practices, reach out to me and we can share some virtual donuts. I do like the donuts and the doughnuts.

“Everyone Is a Recruiter” will be presented on Tuesday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. See the #NACE14 Itinerary Builder for details.

Did you miss Christopher Carlson’s first, second, and third installments on his journey into social recruiting? Read them now!

Am I Mashed Up or Just Fried? A Journey into Social Recruiting (Part 3)

Chris Carlson

 

Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc

In my home office, there is a large neon sign that I picked up at an auction that says, “Buffet Open, All You Can Eat”. Every time we start to discuss social media and recruiting, I think of that sign. There are so many options from which to choose. You can eat from across the whole buffet and self-select those items you want to eat, or you can go to one of the specialty stations to be served a specialty item such as an omelet or a cut of meat. When approaching a good buffet (and there is only one that I will frequent which is in Vegas and you know which one it is), I am careful to review all the options before even grabbing a plate. Once I review my options, I develop a strategy based on how hungry I am and how much time I have. I have been known to relax between courses and to partake of king crab legs for hours.

It was this same approach in developing our social recruiting strategy. We took the time to really understand why we were going to this buffet, and we were careful to review our options in order to select the right ones to meet our needs. We realized that we couldn’t have everything on the buffet. We knew we had time to roll it out and to make a few trips to the buffet as we evolved our thinking. We also knew that we didn’t want to do something just to do it. It had support one of our key objectives which for us included (1) further personalizing our value proposition, (2) enhancing candidate engagement (3) being scalable and sustainable, and (4) building a long-term talent community. All of these objectives aligned to our “burning platform” or the key areas of opportunity for us. Each of you may come to different objectives for your efforts based on your rationale. It is essential in developing your strategy that you have clear objectives and that you design your efforts to support those objectives.

So we grabbed our plates and we started to select the components of our strategy. We wanted to look at short- and long-term initiatives that would allow us to make impact against our objectives with the resources available. Some members of the team had eaten at this buffet before and some had avoided this buffet all together. To ensure we all were on a level playing field, we reviewed the buffet – we looked at the most popular social media tools including but not limited to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. We reviewed how our organization was using these for marketing purposes. I will say here that a lesson learned is to make sure everyone knows that although these platforms support social networking, the strategy isn’t just about one-on-one networking with everyone and his or her mother. Everyone on the team has to understand that it isn’t about posting pics from the intern BBQ or that you have to have a special business handle. It isn’t about each person on your team picking a platform or everyone picking the same platform. It is about composing a balanced plate of options.

So our “small but very mighty” team approached the buffet. We realized as we started to map solutions against our objectives that we didn’t want all of those options right away. At least we recognized that we didn’t want them as a main course but rather as side-dishes to a larger “main dish”. For example, we wanted to leverage Twitter and LinkedIn to promote our interactive webinar series for students and career services and not as primary means of interacting. So our webinars were the main course that linked back to our objectives and the social media tool was the side-dish that complimented the effort. We continued to build our plates to include internal-facing initiatives such as a firm-wide campaign leveraging employees at the grass roots, enhancing our SharePoint site and sharing information broadly via Yammer and quarterly firm-wide teleconferences for all staff. It is starting to look like a composed plate with some real depth of flavors but we know that we need to continue to revisit the buffet to satisfy our hunger.

If this blog entry made you a little hungry for more, I am going to be sharing more about our lessons learned and additional trips to the buffet in upcoming blogs. Also, as a reminder, I am presenting in more detail at #NACE14. If any of you want to connect to share stories or best practices, reach out to me and we can start the discussion over the phone or via one of the social media tools. Who knows, maybe we can start a Twitter chat.

“Everyone Is a Recruiter” will be presented on Tuesday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. See the #NACE14 Itinerary Builder for details.

Did you miss Christopher Carlson’s first and second installment on his journey into social recruiting? Read them now! Look for his next blog on May 15.

Am I Mashed Up or Just Fried? A Journey Into Social Recruiting (Part 2)

Chris Carlson
Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc

Picture it: NACE 2012, I remember sitting, listening to a panel of my counterparts and experts talking about social media and recruiting, and thinking, “Oh dear, is that right for us?” After that session there was another session and another. Panic soon ensued. I knew how to post pictures on Facebook and I had a LinkedIn page, but I have trouble keeping up with the requests on those as well as my e-mail. How are we going to handle individual engagement with college students from every campus via social media??? After several other sessions, more experts, and more articles, I was even more distressed.

After calming myself down and taking a deep breath, I realized that this is just a change. Change isn’t scary; after all, I am a Change Management Advanced Practitioner. Let’s start at the beginning: Moving into social recruiting, whether as a primary thrust of your strategy or just a component, is going to require change. With any change you need to be able to articulate a “burning platform” or a rationale for the change. Before you build a strategy and pick an approach or even figure out on which social media to be present, it is important for you to determine the “why”.   Phew, ok, I had a starting point. Then, I needed to figure out if this made sense for us.

To start building the case, it was necessary to do an environmental scan to determine the trends across our industry. I began searching the NACE website as well as other related sites to track key trends related to social recruiting and university recruiting. I began to see some interesting data related to how students were identifying positions. A recent survey by Collegerecruiter.com [Agrawal, Sanjeev, “How Companies Can Attract the Best College Talent”, March 17, 2014, Harvard Business Report] quantified that trend when it was noted that the number one source of college students finding a job was through their friends followed closely by job boards. It is becoming clear that social networks may be fueling the job search at the university level. So, I quickly realized that my first goal was to understand how to tap into that social network.

Our team has always reviewed data around majors and schools to identify any specific trends. When we started to review our own data, we quickly started to see some additional emerging trends one of which was somewhat antidotal related to on-campus activities—“where were the seniors in computer science?” We were finding freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in the Fall, but seniors were slowly dwindling. We also saw that competition for talent, overall, was on the rise which was confirmed by NACE data around on-campus activity. We had to make some assumptions based on what we were seeing. We had to assume that more companies were converting their interns and that competition was heating up, especially for technical majors. We made a concerted effort to target our on-campus activities to specific departments and were seeing results. We also knew that we had worked to brand ourselves more in the technical space and again, were seeing results. However, when we looked at projected demand and the current pipeline, it hit us. We realized that we had to strike early and often to reach a highly competitive pool of candidates and we had to cast a much wider net—four, five, or even 10 “core” schools can’t deliver the pipeline that our firm needs anymore. So, how do we sustain and scale that to reach a pipeline that will meet our needs?

We then had to look at our own team, our resources, and our service offerings. Could our “small but mighty team” engage in a new endeavor into the social recruiting world? Do we have to add 10 more schools, and then 10 more schools to build that pipeline? How could we leverage the enthusiastic employee base to our advantage without breaking the bank?

An inventory of our organization, historical demand, our budget, and our team’s competencies was the additional step necessary for us to norm around our “burning platform.”  Clearly we couldn’t replicate our winning on-campus strategy across any additional schools. We would burn out and fail to provide that personal touch that students like.

It was clear: We had to go into the social recruiting space. Our next major step would need to be focused on how to leverage social media to achieve our objectives. (I would encourage you to explore your business case before going into the social space and make sure it is the right path. Do you have a clear understanding of your demand? Make sure you understand how it can enhance your program. If you have a successful on-campus approach and are seeing the results you need, then you may not need to jump into the pool head first. You may want to wade into the water. My team will probably tell you that I more than likely bumped my head on the bottom of the pool when I dove in.)

In the next blog, I will explore how we began to execute and obtain support for our leverage of social media in our program. We are still learning and would love to connect with others to chat more about this—perhaps a networking circle or a Tweet chat. Of course, please come see me @NACE14 where I will be presenting on this topic.

“Everyone Is a Recruiter” will be presented on Tuesday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. See the #NACE14 Itinerary Builder for details.

Did you miss Christopher Carlson’s first installment on his journey into social recruiting? Read it now! Look for Part 3 on May 6!

Am I Mashed Up or Just Fried? A Journey Into Social Recruiting

Chris Carlson
Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc

Reading regular updates on corporate engagement and investment into social media suggests that it is becoming a critical piece of corporate recruiting strategies.  The influence of social recruiting and media on university recruiting continues to evolve.  Many traditional campus recruiting models are being challenged by new paradigms in means of communication.  Our team has been in the process of evolving our social recruiting strategies for university recruiting, and when asked to contribute to the NACE Blog, I thought it would be appropriate to develop a series of blogs designed to share more about my personal journey into social recruiting.

Let me start the series by sharing a personal perspective.  I hate to confess this, but I learned recruiting in a small office back in the day when recruiting was done by putting an advertisement in a local paper and that was pretty much our only strategy.  We opened the envelopes of those who applied and proceeded to review them, and put them into two piles—qualified and not-qualified.  I still remember counting the months and years of experience on each of the qualified resumes with a red pen for review by the hiring manager and the EEO officer. We thought 150 applicants was a lot.

Over the years, I recruited during the introduction of the Internet and job boards. I still am close with some recruiters who were in the chat room of the original OCC, which became Monster. We went from 150 applicants per  job posting to thousands. They came in from all over the world. Technical recruiting exploded, but it was still contained in the confines of job boards and postings. Throughout this whole period, some things remained constant in university recruiting—posting positions, career fairs, on-campus interviews, meeting professors, and student group meetings. Technology advanced a greater ease in posting as we didn’t have to mail a flyer anymore, but still nothing dramatic happened.

Fast forward to now…every student has a smart phone and/or a tablet. Career services staff leverage social media to keep students informed and even trained. There are apps like Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine that allow individuals to communicate instantly and to large numbers of people.  My head whirls sometimes just thinking about it all. Should I be mashing something so I can “mashup?” If I am on Twitter, am I twittering or tweeting, and why am I putting a hashtag in front of everything? Do I have to write in complete sentences?  Who are these people and why do they want to connect with me?

Our team met just over a year ago to review the changing landscape on campuses and within our business. We reviewed our resources, outreach, tools, and historical metrics.  We discussed our challenges and opportunities. We then started to realize that we needed to embrace a remote, social recruiting strategy. We started down that path and are still moving in that direction. Over the coming months I am going to discuss the transition from traditional campus recruiting to embracing this “brave new world.” I will be discussing processes, lessons learned, and best practices.

In true social media fashion, I encourage you to share your stories with me as well. We can mashup together, and I hope you will continue to follow me down my #journey. I will also be presenting at #NACE14 on this topic in more detail.

Everyone Is a Recruiter, best practices on establishing a social recruiting approach that takes into account both internal and external tools and audiences, will be presented by Christopher Carlson and Courtenay Verret, Talent Acquisition Program Associate, American Red Cross.

Read part 2 of Christopher Carlson’s “Journey Into Social Recruiting.”