Online Portfolios…Don’t Be Left Dazed and Confused

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

Creating an online portfolio can be daunting. Traditionally photographers, designers, film/video editors, and other creative types have used portfolios, but I think everyone should have some kind of online portfolio.  Now don’t freak out – ha! Your industry and career goals determine the kind of portfolio you will have and the tools you will use, which leads me to an important point: Not all online portfolios should be the same.

Some answers and ideas to some common portfolio questions:

Do I need a portfolio?

The short answer is…Yes! Whether you are a recruiter, career adviser, event planner, PR specialist, or biomedical engineer, you should consider an online portfolio or some kind of online presence reflecting your work. After all, isn’t an “online presence” a kind of professional portfolio anyway? There are a bazillion different platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Behance, Instagram, Weebly) to choose from, so you must think strategically (Who is your audience, and what do they need/want?) as to which type is best for you. Portfolios are a no-brainer for some industries and they’re a professional standard. For example, a graphic designer needs a platform that will allow them to show their work in a very dynamic and visual way, while also allowing them to share their work with others. Therefore, Behance or Carbonmade, platforms specifically for visual arts and networking, are a couple of strong platforms worth consideration.  But what about non-artsy-fartsy careers…like, say…a career adviser?

As a career adviser, I have an online portfolio/presence, and yes, there are some visual and artistic pieces, but when determining what platforms to use, I had to consider my audience (students, peer career advisers, employers) and their needs/wants (tools for learning, inspiration for the job/intern search, paths of communication for sharing talent and opportunities). LinkedIn, for me, is a must, as it allows me to share my experience chronologically and visually. My LinkedIn profile is, by all intents and purposes, a virtual resume, but I’m also able to share writing, presentations, and design. I see many of my students and clients not maximizing LinkedIn by adding examples of their work, and I feel like they are selling themselves short. My social media platforms are added to my LinkedIn profile, but in addition, I use About.me as a fun and creative hub for sharing all of my social media. You may be thinking… “Are social media skills portfolio worthy?”…YES! Social media skills (e.g. strategy, writing, curating content) are highly valuable, and should absolutely be a part of your portfolio.

What should I put in my portfolio?

As I mentioned before, think strategically. Who is your audience, and what do they need/want? Portfolios should contain your best work—not all of your work—and be sorted by skill. Spend some time thinking about and writing down all that you do professionally, and then sort by skill and the level of importance to your audience; or try re-organizing your resume by skill. These two exercises will not only clarify the more obvious skills you use, but will also bring to light other skills that you may not have considered before. Even a photographer can breakdown his skills so they are more apparent to his audience. Photography is more than “point and click”—different styles require different skills. The portfolio of a photographer could be sorted into many skills/styles including: journalistic, portraits, landscapes, fashion, and black and white.

Writing, career development programming, poster/flyer design, social media, and presentations are the skills I reflect in my portfolio/online presence. I use LinkedIn to share my presentations and design; WordPress for my writing; Twitter and LinkedIn for content curation; and I bring it all together in one package on my About.me profile.

One tip for reflecting programming or events in portfolios is to have a picture of the event/program and discuss it using a variation of the good old STAR method—challenge, action, result.

Always make sure that you or your student get employer consent prior to posting anything from a past internship or job.

What are some resources for creating an online portfolio?

Don’t recreate the wheel by trying to build your own website from scratch (unless you are a web developer). We want viewers to see your skills and work, and not get sidetracked by a poorly designed and constructed site. There are many free and intuitive resources out there to choose from. Weebly and Wix are good drop and drag resources with templates for creating websites. Carbonmade and Behance are great for design/branding/photography/fashion portfolios. And of course as a recruiter, career adviser, or financial analyst, LinkedIn may be all that you need.

How do I share my portfolio?

There are some basic and more advanced ways of sharing your portfolio and professional work. A couple of basic ways are adding your portfolio link to your email signature, business card, resume header, and LinkedIn profile. More advanced methods include engaging with other professionals through social media. For example, writing a blog post and tweeting it or posting photography on Instagram with strategic tags to draw a greater audience. I’ve had students create portfolios and ask for feedback from professionals through LinkedIn groups or Behance.

A few other thoughts.

Academic portfolios are different than professional portfolios. I understand some universities have, or are in the process of considering, creating a required academic portfolio piece for students. The purpose of this requirement is to assess students’ learning over the course of their college careers. These academic portfolios may include reflections on experiences (e.g. study abroad, service), graded writing from first year through senior year, general professor feedback on assignments, and more. As I mentioned earlier, a professional portfolio reflects your best work (meeting the needs and standards of an industry/employer) while the purpose of an academic portfolio is to show growth of skill and learning within an academic context.

Could academic portfolios be repurposed into professional portfolios? I don’t see why not—in fact I love the idea! I think it would be a wonderful learning experience for students, as they would directly see how their academic and developmental experiences translate to professional skills—connecting college to career. This could also be a great partnership between employers and career services offices and career advisers and faculty.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Employers (from all industries) – what do you think about portfolios? What would you like to see in them?

NACE members can pick up a student-directed article on online portfolios by Ross Wade from the Grab & Go section of NACEWeb.

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

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 weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a social media/recruiting conference in New York City. It was a really great opportunity to learn about best practices in social recruiting from some real industry leaders. While in New York, I had the chance to visit the MoMA as well. If you have never been, it is really a wonderful museum full of amazing art. It got me thinking about something I wrote on my last blog, a quote from Tammy Garmey from TMP “Content is King but Context Rules.”

Our digital content is very much like art in many ways, in that the context in which we see the art can influence our interpretations. We have the chance to present our ideas and messages in so many different ways to reach a wide variety of audiences and tastes. It is always the context in which we view the art that dictates our appreciation.

Walking through the museum looking at amazing pieces by some of my favorite artists, I also noted that many people were using headsets to learn about the pieces and the artists—common in most museums. Some individuals were led by docents on official tours. Still others were outside listening to a live concert that MoMA had in their courtyard—experience art through music. Not only did MoMA expose people to the art works, they provided multiple ways to reach their audience. At this point, you may be saying, “so what is your point Chris?” Good question…

Let’s fast forward to a call with some 20+ representatives from a variety of companies and from the Jobs Accommodations Network (JANworks.org). On this call, we talked about how to make our recruiting content accessible to everyone including individuals with disabilities or differing abilities. We tried to focus the effort on organically created content developed by our employees. Most of the companies represented were already leaders in hiring individuals with disabilities, and we wanted to further enhance our outreach via social media.

A few key points resulting from the call included:

  • Use multiple channels to share your message: Not every social media tool has built-in accessibility and it is important that you don’t use just one to reach your audience. Just like the MoMA, consider options for your audience.
  • Make content accessible at the point of creation: Look for ways to cascade information about how to make content accessible to your employees so that as they create content it will be accessible. By doing so, it will better convey the real meaning and not lose perspective after someone else tries to make it accessible.
  • Include positive images of individuals with disabilities in your content: One thought is to partner with relevant ERGs or to work closely with your marketing team to make sure you have those positive images so that individuals will be drawn to you.
  • Make it routine: When building PowerPoint presentations or videos, always use built-in accessibility tools whether you need to do so or not. Having people make this part of their everyday will ensure that more content is accessible and easier to create.

For me, the discussion around content and making it accessible reminded me of one of the pieces in the MoMA. The piece was entitled “Still Life With Three Puppies.” Our messaging is like that painting. You can paint still life but it becomes so much more enriching and engaging when we include puppies. Find ways to incorporate varieties of media into your messaging such as captions into your videos or word descriptions of your photos. By doing so, more people will be drawn to your message just like we are drawn to the puppies.

There were definitely some other insights into specific tools that you can use and I will be happy to share those with you if you reach me. You can also reach to JAN at www.askjan.org. They are a great resource.

Lessons Learned at #NACE14

ongDavid Ong, Director, Corporate Recruiting, Maximus, Inc.
Twitter: @dtong2565
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-ong/0/604/513

It’s been two weeks since the 2014 NACE Conference, and I’ve finally recovered from the profound lack of sleep that I experienced in San Antonio. (For those of you that weren’t there, the non-stop networking combined with the excitement in the city from the Spurs NBA title win turned our hotel complex into a never-ending celebration chamber!)

With my batteries now re-charged, here are a few general observations from the conference:

1) Our profession is in a very dynamic phase—Is it just me, or was anyone else just in awe of how many critical issues and trends are hitting simultaneously. From First Destinations to OFCCP to Big Data to STEM Education……It’s clear that the game is changing big time! The conference was the perfect opportunity to exchange ideas with my peers, my customers, and our affiliate members.

2) Our future looks bright—If the conference first-time attendee session was any indication, we’re in great hands. The new attendees seemed so highly engaged, inquisitive, and truly excited about being NACE members and they wanted to know how to get more involved, which bodes well for all of our members. Every year this group gets bigger. Case in point: We typically split the newcomers into groups of about 15 people, and we assign past or present NACE board members to facilitate discussion. To our shock, we actually ran short on NACE board representatives! (Kudos to our terrific conference co-chairs Maura Quinn from Liberty Mutual and Fred Burke from Baruch College for stepping in to facilitate!)

3) We have some great leaders at NACE—How can anyone not be impressed by the performance of our fearless leader, Dan Black of EY? The guy attended almost every organized event, chatted with virtually everyone he met, enlightened (and entertained) us with his “Early Show” interviews of NACE award winners. He threw down the ultimate challenge to our members with a new member outreach proposal. He also did a great job with the passing of the torch to President Sam Ratcliffe of VMI, who did a wonderful job of welcoming first-time attendees and gave us an enlightening glimpse into the college recruiting future. Like many of you, I’m really psyched to see what Sam has in store for all of us now that he’s the president!

One last comment….There is real power in blogging—I’ve got to be honest….When the folks at NACE asked me to consider writing this blog, I was a little hesitant. Questions like “What am I going to write about?” “Will anybody read it?” and “If they read it, will they fall asleep?” all entered into my head. Thankfully, the NACE conference changed my view of blogging after I had several encounters with attendees who recognized me from the blog photo (Note to self: Pick up a gift for our company photographer.) and asked to take a selfie with them, which promptly got posted on social media outlets (Other note to self: Learn to take selfies from above not below.) I heard from other NACE bloggers that they had similar experiences to mine, so a huge thanks to those of you that took the time to let us know that you’re enjoying this latest communications outlet from NACE!

That’s it for now….Next NACE stop for me: the Summer of 2014 Board of Directors meeting in Boston.

You’ll find a list of NACE’s Board of Directors on NACEWeb. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the NACE Blog Team, contact Claudia Allen.

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.

The Social Media-Enhanced Job Search: Creepy or Courageous?

kevin grubb NACE Ambassador Kevin Grubb
Associate Director, Digital Media & Assessment at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.
Blogs from Kevin Grubb.

At the 2014 NACE conference, I heard lots of conversations about social media, recruiting, and job searching. That’s not surprising; social media is still influencing our work and changing it with exponential speed. I found myself often reflecting on the class that I teach at Villanova on social media and creating a professional identity online and whether all that we can do with technology now is creepy or courageous.

In my class, I have every student read the privacy policy of Facebook or Twitter and write a reflection on what they found. If we were taking live polls of my ratings as a professor, I can tell you my scores would drop like a lead bucket as soon as that assignment goes out. Doesn’t everybody just click on “I agree to (insert website name) privacy policy and terms of use” right away and start the sharing? Ugh!

Facebook Terms of Use

Have you ever read this entire thing?

But, when I read the resulting papers and talk with students afterward, there’s always been only gratitude. What they learned was a mixture of “creepy” and empowering: they’re now aware of what information is out there and start confidently making decisions to be smart online.

“Creepy” is a word I hear often when I talk with groups of students and professionals about social media. I hear it especially in conversations about LinkedIn’s “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature, which shows you just what it says it will. Conversely, when you view the profiles of others, they would be able to know that, too. You can change your visibility in this feature via privacy settings, though I will say I think users should remain visible in almost every case. I’ve heard many good stories about connections getting made and even an interview being offered when two people realized they stumbled on each other’s profiles.

Are there elements of social media that feel creepy? I won’t argue that it can create uncomfortable moments. However, social media can also be empowering, as the students in my class find out together. To get active, to share your goals and your ideas (without “oversharing”—either emotionally or just by posting too often), and to connect with people about those ideas: that’s a powerful possibility social media creates.

It’s a big, big stage we’re on when we talk about sharing ourselves and our stuff on social media. Anyone who realizes the magnitude of reaching thousands or millions of people with a few taps on the keyboard and a mouse click is right to say, “I should really think carefully about this.” In my experience talking with people, that also scares the heck out of them. What if I share some things that really matter to me and nobody cares? What if someone bashes my ideas? Do I have anything worthy enough to share?

For students, being active on social media in a professional manner takes courage. It’s trying something new. Just like putting on a business suit for the first time felt strange, so does putting on your digital suit when you interact on social media. Did it take them a little courage to make the first introduction to someone at a networking event or career fair? So, too, does it take courage to ask for help from alumni on LinkedIn, to tweet to professionals they think are doing great work or to write a blog post?

Perhaps the social media-enhanced job search is part creepy and part courageous. For now, I’m in the courageous camp. NACE blog readers: What do you think?

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!

Using Facebook to Easily Connect Students and Employers

Smedstad-Headshot

Shannon Smedstad, Employer Branding & HR Social Media, Geico
Twitter: @shannonsmedstad
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shannonsmedstad

Before we jump into the meat of this post, I’ve got a few initial questions for you …

EMPLOYERS: Does your company have a career-related Facebook page?

CAREER CENTERS: Do you have a Facebook page?

BOTH: Could you be doing more with your page?

If you answered “yes” to two out of three of these questions, please keep reading.

Most people know that Facebook is good for sharing photos and status updates. But, what if we could use Facebook as a virtual career fair platform? How exactly would that work?

facebook_logoThe Magic of Facebook for College Recruiting

You can access Facebook from anywhere: desktop, phone, dorm room, or in-between classes. You can chat with an individual or group. You can share information and link to jobs. Some recruiters already use Facebook to connect with job-seeking students.

As the manager of a corporate career page on Facebook, I have now successfully led three virtual career fairs … right on Facebook!

  • June 2013: More than 230 people engaged with recruiters over a two-day virtual career fair. Hires were made!
  • November 2013: We took a more targeted approach and attracted 75 students to our page during a one-day fair. It cost us less than $50.
  • April 2014: Co-hosted a virtual career fair with a collegiate honor society and grew our followers by 3 percent in one day and organic reach was the highest it’s been year-to-date. It’s still too early to know if we’ve made any hires—my fingers are crossed!

Advice and Lessons Learned

When it comes to social media, you have to be willing to take some calculated risks and try new things. Social platforms are designed for real time communication; we just have to be creative in our thinking to create opportunities to do just that.

To me, these Facebook career fairs fall into the low risk/low cost/potential high reward category. It’s all about the planning, promotion, human resources, and execution of the plan, not how much it costs. Here are some of my top tips for anyone interested in hosting your own virtual event:

  • Determine your audience and whether you have any existing partners that will work through this idea with you.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to create a targeted, multi-channel promotional plan.
  • Visual imagery is important in attracting talent and sharing details of the event.
  • Schedule a pre-fair call with the recruiters to talk through what to expect and how you might want to handle certain requests or situations.
  • Make sure that your page (booth) is properly manned during the allotted career fair time, and for a day or two after (questions continue to trickle in).
  • Measure results using Facebook Insights, ATS data, and feedback from the entire team to determine whether the event was successful and worth doing again.

Since our most recent event, we’ve had two student organizations reach out with interest to our team. When you can bring people, technology, and opportunities together for the greater good … it’s a beautiful thing. Thanks, Facebook.

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!