#SocialRecruiting: How About A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action?

When you begin a new year, no matter how much we try to buck the cliche – we review stuff. We assess where we are in so many aspects of our life, and promise to do something about it. Often unsuccessfully, often successfully; trivial or not.

I’m not one for resolutions – however, realisation is a different thing. Not necessarily a new realisation in my case, but the culmination of ongoing frustrations.

So, when I directed CloudNine into the Social Media & Digital arena in late 2009 – I naturally became part of the `Social Recruiting` community. As well as spending much time reading and listening to marketing & comms professionals within my designated niche, I also made it my business to listen to what the recruitment community was doing about the embracing of social technology and methodology within social media networks. Largely this came from the US, and was quite HR-centric. But there was valuable learnings I took on board and applied to my own thinking.


I think the initiation of this process was at #TruLondon 2 in February 2010. It was a fascinating place to be, and the buzz of new ideas and evolution was tangible, and it inspired me. The agency market however was under-represented. They were slower on the uptake – and soon, besides speaking appearances at events, I would be the real example, and lead tracks at the #tru events series on the `Social Agency`, and enjoy giving insights into how I do it, and get great pleasure from the apprecation and conversation the developed around my practical day-to-day knowlege on the subject and notes were furiously written.

So in March this year, 2013, it’s #TruLondon7; three years on; and I will of course offer my services to #Tru organiser Bill Boorman, to lead discussion on this area again – and any other he cares for me to contribute. I owe much to Bill, as an inspiration for this area – an actual DOER of stuff – and also how his events have brought me to meet fascinating people, and friends. I don’t think I thank Bill enough for this.

When I did #TruLondon6 in October, I said to Bill I wanted to shake up the `Social Agency` track – take it to another level, beyond the `Here’s Twitter` stage. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. A captivated collective of 30 or so recruiters & suppliers, it seemed – still need to know what Twitter was about, and how to start using it. And often this would be from faces I have seen again, and again at #TruLondon events. So where were the case studies coming from? Me, again. And to degree,Amanda Ashworth, who supported me in this track – however 3 months on, she is no longer doing recruitment. Left the Social Recruiting championing space like Barry Furby and Steve Jacobs before her. On other occasions Elkie Holland from Prospectus will co-lead these tracks. But beyond that – it’s advisory experts in this space – good people like Andy HeadworthLisa Jones… and of course Bill. All worthy professionals, but not active recruiters any more.


So here’s the problem. We’re going round in circles

. I can name you over 50 people in the UK who will happily write you a blog about how to use social media effectively in recruitment. At least 30 of those, will never have had to apply those tactics they preach, because they are no longer day to day recruiters. Of the other 20, there may be some great blog writers – but not necessarily great recruiters. They’ll tell you about how to post content on Pinterest and how brilliant it is – but then give up on it after 2 months themselves. They’ll write a blog a week from the comfort of their small office – but will miss opportunities to make themselves better recruiters in the process.

I always found, that average recruiters talked too much.

Being a great blogger, means you can be a great writer, with some nice (often borrowed) ideas. It certainly doesn’t make you a good recruiter. And, being good at `Social` isn’t enough.

In-house recruitment specialist Ken Ward in a Facebook comment to me this morning, re-iterated an acute observation that he often has when uses the phrase “cutting through the noise” in relation to a post I made about Blogs. He’s bang on. I’ve had 3 years of #SocialRecruiting noise spouted at me. I’ve done it myself. Blog, after blog, after blog – at a rate of knots that no human can digest with any genuine applicable digestion. Often they are excellent. Too often they are dreamily pointless. #SocialRecruiting has become a state of being, as opposed to a state of doing. The case studies, in Agency, in Inhouse, in Mobile, and in HR – are scarce – and often repeated. We still cling onto the sparse examples, and particularly in agency land, no-one is using social media on the scale needed to change the industry perception – or convince the others, that it’s a worthy investment of time.

And so this thought process comes around, because I include myself in all of this. I think I am pretty hot on using what I call `Social with intent`; I blog sporadically, and produce directed social media content with purpose within my market. But I become distracted by the noise Ken mentions. I want to hear and comment on the latest thought. I like to ignite discussion and debate. But then all the while I am doing that, I’m not doing recruitment? I’m not serving CloudNine? The daily drip feed of nonsense, is clouding the clarity of my intent. I’m listening to and commenting with the wrong people.

It’s the effect of being in a bubble. And in #SocialRecruiting, we’re in a bubble. Still.

I ran an event for a portion of my client market this week, the Social TV Conference. Social TV is a bubble too – and I could see this – and so my selection of James Whatley to cut through that bubble with a dose of reality and perspective was deliberate to provide diversity of thought amongst a stellar line-up of Social TV professionals and case study. His talk was a hit with the audience – and his message resonated.

Maybe it’s my job as a #SocialRecruiting specialist – to do the same. Let’s stop pretending we think social media is the game-changer in recruitment – because it’s not yet. Stop listening to the recurrance and repetition of bloggers every day. And to the bloggers, let’s stop writing blogs, every day – cluttering the thoughts of enquiring recruiters with so much opinion, that the truth is never entirely unearthed, and practical application is is never entirely achieved. Stop presenting us with the `everyone is using social` stats – because stats are skewed, we know this – we’ve known this for years. They are presented in infographics to sell us something, to create headlines and create discussion.

Let’s `cut through the noise` and focus on the actionable proofs. Let’s abandon theory repetition, and demonstrate actual success points, consistently over a period of months and years – rather than “I made these 5 placements worth £100k through social media (and then never used it again, because next time it didn’t work)”.

Let’s DO #SocialRecruiting with intent, and then let’s DO #SocialRecruiting WITH ACTION AND RESULTS. Stop reading so much. Stop writing so much. And do more recruitment, wth social media, WELL.     

That means identifying our target audiences in clusters – online and offline – and integratring and innovating as professionals, rather than as sales-people. Having the right conversations with intent, rather than drifting into conversations which form distraction.

Write less. Theorize less. Procrastinate less. Confuse less. Do more.

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