Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
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!