5 Basics To Make Social Media Work For Recruitment

So many blogs. So many opinions. So many failed attempts, but also some awesome case studies. Yes Social Media & Recruitment is a minefield of confusion, misdirection, and advice from folk who ain’t never done it.

child fiveHere’s 5 useful little guiding lights, from a bloke who’s been doing it hands-on since 2009; that remind you, and encourage you, that you don’t need to tip your recruitment agency/team upside down.

1. Start with your CRM

Well, you’ve been dying to get some proper use out of that damn thing for months and years. Well it’s the perfect place to try and do something with clients and candidates who refuse to pick the phone up to you. The confusion of social media so often stems from not knowing who to target. So, if you chose to populate your CRM with seemingly relevant people, then do the same with your social prospects. Candidates, clients, contacts – take the journey from CRM, to LinkedIn, to beyond. Hopefully you have chosen a modern day CRM, that allows you to integrate social media naturally anyway; then your social media communications can sit on a level playing field, with your telephone call activity. In fact, done well – it outshines it.

2. Think Brand

Please no, not Russell Brand. The scary bit about branding on social media is that it is marketing. Let’s be honest, most recruitment entities don’t like or understand marketing. It’s ok to admit it. You weren’t made that way. Actually, the branding bit is pretty easy – but I would suggest you need advice. (I can do that bit, if you need) But what you are doing in building your brand well, is in essence increasing the potential for people to say nice things about you. That’s good – it gets you business, gets you people, and increases inbound enquiries, profile and kudos. Now branding does *not* mean, your logo. Nobody buys logos. It means the substance of your people, your service, your interaction with your community, your stories, your original content, your thought leadership, your value and credibility within your marketplace. People buy from good people; we all know that. You can’t share those stories on the phone, and your brochure is out-of-date as soon as it’s printed. Social Media gives you platforms to keep rolling news and content alive and current.

3. The Best People For The Job – It’s Not For Everyone  

Ok, so let me start with this. If you are the CEO, MD, Founder, Head of Talent Acquisition, or whatever you want to call yourself; then YOU should be on social media. Not as your company brand, but as you. You’ve gone this far to create a good agency or team – now go stand out proud from the front. But aside of that, if we haven’t the budget to hire a social media specialist; then we have a habit of asking our sales people to manage social media channels. Invariably, your best sales people hate change in method, they like tried and tested methods; and they are great already. Don’t screw them up, by trying to make them write tweets 5 times a day then. They’re not going to stop and listen to the conversation they might create; and their work will be outbound. Bad social media. Find the unsung superstar in your team, that everyone loves – who you hired because they have awesome people potential, can select well, gets the industry you serve; but it turns out is utter pants at sales. I bet they’d be great at social media. Given they they no doubt want to succeed proactively, they will more likely *want* to be great at social media. If I come to train your recruiters to integrate social media, I will ask them at the end of the first session who actually wants to do it. Anyone that is honest, and would rather go back and continue make sales or headhunting calls, I would willingly set them free – they will *never* want to embrace it. Pointless for me, pointless for you. Find your superstars who can run with it, don’t crowbar in the nay-sayers. The other people to choose, are people already highly conversant and technically aware of your industry. Difficult to do ‘social’ with a .Net developer on a social channel, if your best shot at conversation is “How the devil are you?”.  

4. Social Media is for Business Development, not just Sourcing

Everyone talks about sourcing, finding hard-to-reach talent, etc – when we hear about Social Recruiting. For the recruitment agency out there, and for the executive hiring team; the need is for business development. Wins, not just Finds. At CloudNine, 100% of business came from social media potency and visibility, or recommendation from the reputation we created through that visibility. (see 2. Think Brand). B2B is about building relevance, relationship and trust – and where sales calls fail, is that they are, well… salesy. By targeting prospects expertly through social media, with conversation, market integration, relevant content and offline purpose,  the entrance to the relationship is more human and mutual than the pressure cooker of an unplanned sales call.

5. Choose Platforms & Emerging Technology With Care

Most social media platforms, are probably not for you. The problem with social media integration is that some bright spark will say “XYZ did this thing on Snapchat – you could do it too!!”, and then we all think we can do it. Stick initially to sound and solid bases; based on where you already have a hunch your industry is. Use existing specialist communities, conversations and groups as your catalyst for identifying socially active connections; and where relevant – use ‘dark social’, i.e. niche forums and specialist discussion areas – to find relevancy in your communications. Your inbox will also be full of apps, extensions and tech-wet-dreams that will promise to make you a better recruiter. Choose these carefully, and from good neutral advice. Too many will complicate what is a perfectly human process we’ve been doing for years; but people would have us believe that it’s a mystery online.

And that’s the point, it’s a human process that you are already probably pretty good at. If I could have added a sixth, I would say don’t fear online and business. (I could add more too, naturally…) It’s what your competitors are doing, and large and progressive brands are already leading the way and have been for years. Don’t get left behind, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. (I can do that too) 


Steve Ward is an early-adopter of hands-on social recruiting and following 22 years as an agency recruiter; is now independently helping recruitment teams and agencies improve the perception of the way they work, by helping integrate social media & digital transformation into hiring methods; to enhance inbound traffic. Still recruiting, but also available for training, mentoring and advisory roles. Connect & message me if you’d like to chat. 

#SocialRecruiting 1976-present day. About People Not Technology.

What is ‘Social Recruiting’?, I asked,  in 2010 one of my first ever blogs. As I read it today, I could write the same words in most part – with the same consistency of thought. In fact I utter many of the same words now. I also refer to the start of my recruitment career in 1994, and claim fairly, that I was a ‘social recruiter’ then too. I also hat tip Angela Mortimer, who was also doing the same in 1976. She was absolutely a social recruiter. And I bet there are more before her.

child laptop blog

The reason? Well, because only one thing has changed. (besides my 1994 hairline & waistline). That thing is technology. And because of technology, we have turned social recruiting into a circus of misdirection.

The thing that has never changed, is people. Recruitment is about People. By nature, Social Recruiting is even more so, about people. 

So when I read a blog or watch a talk or seminar on Social Recruiting, where the words ‘Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram’ etc, dominate the content – I am frustrated. You’ll see that I very rarely talk about platforms. Platforms are vehicles, different modes of transport, avenues of access, and providers of increasingly helpful analytics for website & applicant traffic measurement.

But social recruiting isn’t about Twitter, etc. It’s about people. Yet we recruiters seem to be entrenched in a technology fog, where our natural instinct to develop potent relationships, trust and gain face to face credibility; is shrouded by the need to consider technology & platforms first, and thus instils fear in the many who fail to see the point of social media channels and the like at first sight; or conversely it all provides opportunities for others to make recruitment a short-cut process where relationships and human interaction are no longer necessary.

I would much rather hear from people who talk about human behaviour, understanding audiences, how the digital age has changed our inclinations and actions in job seeking, networking, social media use, and human interaction; and how we can apply that to the way attract talent. Off the back of *that* we can choose our technology carefully, and consider the channels in which we need to operate – and how. Not based on a cut-and-paste ‘How To…’ guide, but tailored in correlation with our specific audiences, talent markets and influencer & advocate networks.

So recruiters, please don’t get caught up in the confusion around social recruiting being about multiple sources of tech, and a time drainer. Instead, it’s a terrific opportunity and network enabler – and why it should compliment what you do already, with many of the skills you already have and employ.

There’s a reason the word ‘Social’ exists in Social Recruiting. It needs people to be social. Technology is optional.

Welcome thoughts.


Steve Ward is an award-winning Social Recruiting Strategist, who as well as continuing to partly be a front-line digital recruiter; is now an advisor, mentor, trainer to recruitment teams on using social media effectively in talent attraction and recruitment marketing. Contact me if I can help your business. 

Measuring Word-of-Mouth in Recruitment: Source of Source of Hire.

When I led a discussion last week on social media in recruitment – one of the challenges that marketers and directors within recruitment organisations experience – is putting a measure on social media activity. I wrote about Social Selling recently, but what is the effect of good social media marketing and business presence?

kids whispering








You see it cannot be a blunt measurement like ‘we got this hire through Twitter’, and tick a box. That’s too basic. We advise that organisations should have content and presence across all relevant channels; and that social media is not a post & pray environment, but one where you build a profile of credibility and visibility. There’s a degree of consistent and subliminal marketing to it; rather like why brands still spend large portions of budget on billboard advertising. Pretty un-measurable stuff, that has a combination of variable speeds of impact across different channels.

But of ‘Source of Hire’ is a phrase we hear about. When we collect data on the candidate’s way in, we often ask “where did you hear about the job?”; or indeed track the link of where the application came from. Easy measurement.

However, I’m not convinced this sufficiently tells the story.

“Your website” is sufficient for your website manager to be proud; but insufficiently accurate to denote the actual source of hire. What directed someone to the website? Equally, when someone quotes “recommendation”, well great, that’s awesome for company profile stats – but, from where and why did that recommendation come? Are tracking this.?

The actual source of hire, therefore is the SOURCE of the source of hire.

To get a good one-dimensional idea of how effective our marketing is – we can measure direct source to apply/hire. But in doing so, we merely support our website portals and basic application behaviours. If we really want understand how our marketing, especially across social media marketing; is working, then we need to consider how word-of-mouth behaviour takes place and where the key activators are.

So who is sending people to our jobs? The reality is, that the source of source of hire, is rarely a platform – which most metrics would ask us to measure impact from – but instead it is a series of people. Social Media marketing is not so much about platforms – it’s about the people who use those platforms and working out their behaviours, and attempting to influence their decisions.

Taking that a step further then, identifying the people whose behaviour on platforms is sending people to our jobs, or to our website to raise a query; is pretty important right?

These, ladies & gentlemen, are called your advocates. Yes, if you have strong brand and word-of-mouth working for you in this way, then you have advocates. Offline and Online. Sounds nice. But we will never know who these people are, unless we start to look at asking for the source of the source of hire.

So what of them? What of these ‘advocates’ I speak of, or ‘activators’ – that places like McKinsey call them. Well there could be many of them, but they are pretty special people. They willingly, without reward or intent of thanks, recommend you as an organisation or recruiter – maybe because they have had a good experience, maybe they support your online presence, maybe they can just see you are a credible player in their field. They are a channel of leads, candidates and also quite likely, new business. And, they have influence – they influence the behaviours of others to act. Yet, more often than not, recruitment teams rarely venture to find out who these people are.

Well, I propose that when you get working on your Social Media presence; you start to understand these people.  Start asking questions beyond the obvious, and recognise who ignited the relationship.

Then what? – Well don’t ignore the people who have been recommended– they deserve a dose of VIP treatment whether you can place them or not. And start to spend some more time appreciating your advocates – they are your non-paid, all-willing external sales people. We always schmooze our clients and key candidates; but never think to understand or reward the people who deliver us both. They are often your Source of the Source of Hire, and can become a part lifeblood to your business without even trying. 


Steve Ward has just ended a 21 year career in the recruitment agency industry, and is a Social Recruiting Strategist, Trainer & Retained Consultant. Integrating Social Media into actual and natural day to day processes within agencies and in-house to impact inbound business & candidate flow is his specialism. Please do drop a line to request how he could work with your recruitment team or marketing function. 

CloudNine’s Newest Recruit! – Ruthie Penfold

This week, CloudNine is thrilled to add to the team with hiring of Ruthie Penfold, into the role of Senior Consultant.

In setting out to find the ideal person to be a typical CloudNiner – I was as ever, extremely selective in my choices and decision. It has to work; CloudNine has a good reputation (I am told!) and so to maintain that in a new recruiter is a tough ask.
Ruthie has over 11 years experience in recruitment, in areas such as IT and HR – which is fabulous, but also, and crucially – she is a social media nut. Like us. Perfect.


She probably wanted the more `sensible` photo of her… but I this one represents the real Ruthie…!

She’ll bring an extension of great character to the CloudNine mix and matches our branding and personality brilliantly. It was exciting to gauge her excitement at CloudNine through the interview process, and like me she’s something of a ‘recruitment misfit’ – not typical of the wider breed of recruitment consultant.

How do we find someone like this? – well the story is great – an old school friend who I have not seen since I was 16 (you work out the maths as to how long that is!) and Facebook friend now; is a London based actor and artist, and dropped me a DM to say “hey, I have a great friend in recruitment, but also loves social media – you should meet”. So we did. The rest as they say, is history.
Social works, don’t you know…

So now with Ruthie joining this week, and Holly settling nicely and doing a great job of beefing and diversifying CloudNine’s social presence – the first small jigsaw in future CloudNine is complete. We hope we are able to add to the team later in the year, and I’m also about to embark on a campaign to recruit a Dutch specialist recruiter for the social media market over there. Yes it will be difficult again – but I’m all ears to ideas and propositions.

It’s been a great time for CloudNine, since the merger with the Angela Mortimer Group. Hiring Holly, of course – and now we have just kicked off our new #SocialCloud event series of  serious social media discussion and content. And hey – we grow and grow in our pursuit of being the best at recruiting Social Media & Digital Comms people – get in touch, as we’re getting even more equipped to get the best people.

Hiring Can Be Fun. Why Not Make It So?

It’s refreshingly brilliant to see the Heineken video this week – The Candidate – which tells the story of an alternative interviewing campaign to find a certain new hire. It’s truly heart-warming, and certainly leads us to consider – what if all recruitment campaigns were this fun!!

Now, we don’t know what the job was for, whether it was just a PR stunt, whether they’ll ever recruit like this again, or whether our friend Guy is even still in the job. But boy it’s fun.

You see, alongside the natural expectation that a person has to be able to actually do THE job (oh yeah, that bit), there is an ever increasing emphasis on the character, culture fit and team integration factor in hiring someone. So, sure – cover the capability bases – but what is your company doing to genuinely measure the character and durability of someone for your organisation?

It’s not about putting them through 6 hiring hoops to the point of them losing the will to be part of your company; but it’s about supplementing the traditional necessities with something creative, suited to your company – that puts the top candidates into a place of genuine creative thought, fun and enamour with your company and your employer brand. Because good people don’t want to join boring companies any more.

Think about a sip of Heineken, and a sip of reality, stir it with a bit of your company’s creativity Mixer – and why not see if your company can spice up your hiring methods.

You make it interesting, I’ll find the people, and let’s have some fun hiring.