Online Employment Branding

Online recruitment, recruitment, recruitment risk, talent management strategy

It will come as no surprise that the numbers of people seeking their next career move, who look to the internet, grows exponentially every month. Logically, why not – we are online for every other type of consumable why not work?

Many readers will have been approached by recruiters usually trolling LinkedIn or other social network site or will have checked out one of the thousands of job boards that have sprouted for every conceivable career. Job boards however, are losing their attraction because of their loss of focus; contingency and lower end recruiters are also struggling for sustainability. The reasons for this are several but the most compelling is that as the talent shortage begins to bite, as the boomers leave the workplace, employers are working harder to attract scarce skills. Putting an ad on a job board or even on your own website and hoping the resumes will come flooding just doesn’t happen anymore.

Now there is no substitute for having a retained recruitment firm on your behalf approach top talent as a signal that you are serious about attracting the right person. But companies can’t afford to do that for every position particularly for mid and lower level people. There is also a growing feeling that the less established recruiters are simply searching the internet and employers are questioning why they cannot cut out the middleman and do that for themselves.

The Opportunities

 Many employers are in fact taking a much bigger role in finding employees for themselves using online methodologies and there is no doubt that this has many advantages that go far beyond recruitment:

  • Creating an online brand or the technical term; “a credible web presence” is essential to ensuring the world understands your differentiation as an employer; what your values are, the culture that you foster, what it’s like to work for your company and in each location if you are spread across different countries, can all be explained in depth.
  • Using the web enables a permanent, readily accessible information source about every aspect of employment enabling employers to go into much greater detail than they can through any other medium and in a form that potential candidates can access like a menu, as they need specific answers. For example if you are trying to attract candidates to a particularly difficult location you can explore every concern from security to schooling that a typical family may have before signing on thereby removing any potential barrier that someone may have for passing on the opportunity to apply.
  • With more people looking for career moves online and joining conversations with friends, colleagues and associates about employers, locations and roles through social media it provides the opportunity for you, an employer to join these conversations and correct misconceptions, add information or point to or share new sources of information.
  • With a well constructed online presence coupled with a vibrant social media program an online recruitment model will attract more candidates of higher quality at less cost than any other form of recruitment model. The process can be constructed to be a permanent recruitment funnel attracting over time both passive and active job seekers with costs scalable to reflect a specific number of candidates and available budget.
  • In fact with the right strategy when you need to recruit ten mining engineers they will already be following you on one or more of your social media programs.

The opportunity is awesome but at the same time can be intimidating and many employers find that they have more challenges than they envisaged both in terms of workload and applicant management.

The Challenges

Building an online presence and talent attraction strategy requires planning and an approach that reflects the needs of your business. The global shortage of skills means that for the most part you have to get it right – “getting it wrong” sends signals to the candidate community that you are less than serious.

“Getting it wrong” can be achieved in a number of ways some of which may be disastrous, and others simply generating a lower return on your recruitment investment than you had hoped for. Remember you will now be undertaking mass communication and creating a poor or erroneous impression will take time to recover from:

  1. The recruitment strategy that you develop will influence the online model that you create. For example having an online presence today is essential for any organization as people seek new work experiences online rather than through traditional sources. You can elect to build your online presence (and employment brand) to support a traditional recruiter program or to encourage not only online recruitment but application as well.
  2. The minimum that should be considered under any scenario must be a candidate friendly website – as opposed to appealing primarily to a range of other stakeholders that may have an interest in your company. This could include a job board but without a supporting social media program candidates will only find it by accident and certainly not spend time looking with so many competing demands for their attention on the web. Any aspirations to reduce recruitment costs and attract candidates online will need to be supported with an active social media campaign.
  3. The first task is to determine where your “Go To” place is to be established. Where on the internet are you going to direct potential candidates; the place where you store all of your company and vacancy information? The logical place is your company’s website, however, this has probably been written with potential investors, shareholders, suppliers and customers in mind. They are generally not “candidate friendly” and a portion at least will need to be re- written in softer language.
  4. The location will need constant refreshing to encourage potential candidates to return to the site. This will put pressure on your internal or external web developers. Using a custom designed site that mirrors the look of your corporate site, under your logos and other trademarks but managed by a web recruitment specialist may be a more flexible alternative and provide for faster turnaround.
  5. The potential to participate in “conversations” with hundreds of potential candidates through social media is powerful and will contribute to the building of your employment brand. This will not happen overnight and will require dedicated resources to create an impact. Social media postings will need to be made every day (24/7 if you intend to attract an international audience) and you will need to maintain a presence on numerous social media platforms in addition to the holy trinity of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  6. Your recruitment strategy will dictate your social media goals. For example your need to improve Google search status and/or increase audience numbers in certain communities, geographies or amongst specific skill sets will determine usage of techniques, tactics and stratagems related to posting, reposting and profiling. These will constantly change in response to evolving web science and technical evolution. You will need to be on top of these in order to follow the trends and migration patterns of your audience. The web is fickle.
  7. Content is essential (e.g. text, video, audio) that needs to be interesting, varied and constantly refreshed to attract both returning and new potential candidates. A long term strategy to attract passive as well as active candidates will fail if you only post details of positions you need to fill. To attract an engaged audience for the long haul an employer must establish their brand based upon providing or pointing to informative and useful information about their company, their industry and the related required skills to succeed.
  8. Keeping on top of emerging online protocol is an important part of online employment branding. Most experts agree that unless the web is your core business it is very difficult to stay conversant with ever changing internet mores and practices.
  9. A company embarking on this route is in effect taking over tens or possibly hundreds of conversations with potential candidates that were previously with recruiters. These cannot be handled one-on-one if cost effective recruitment is an objective. Besides, candidates increasingly want information available to be on line for follow up reference.
  10. One of our partners in the recruitment industry uses the tagline “Helping leaders to select you”. This sums up exactly the mindset you need and should be the mantra for attracting candidates online. To engage the interests of all potential candidates as much information as possible on every facet of the role should be available. In addition making available helpful services such as resume writing, career coaching and for expatriates, location specialists will help engage those potential candidates with some reservations. You will need to work hard to differentiate your employment brand from your competition. Candidates elect to apply for employment with you or not and your role is to coax them into doing that.
  11. The ability to screen automatically should be included when attracting candidates online. This involves carefully crafted questions built into a web based application form. An online recruitment specialist can supplement with a F2F discussion who will then present a short list to hiring managers that an external recruiter might do today.

These challenges while seemingly formidable are all easily overcome but are important considerations when formulating your objectives in developing an online presence and the extent of your desired footprint. When anticipated and planned for outcomes and value creation will be significant.

The Outcomes

Formulating an online presence in support of an employment brand or web recruitment strategy will benefit an organization in a number of ways:

  • No organization with growth aspirations can afford not to embrace building a brand online and in particular when it comes to attracting new employees
  • Even static posting of vacancies will provide albeit not very successful, a further channel of applicants in an increasingly competitive environment
  • Coupled with a social media campaign suitable the number of active applicants will exponentially increase
  • A candidate friendly web site that mirrors the corporate website can be used to supplement a recruiter driven search program
  • A program targeted at a long term following will over time, attract passive candidates (i.e. those not seeking employment) that will further increase the caliber of applicants
  • Followers of social media posting essentially become a talent supply chain which when coupled with a candidate management program drastically shortens the recruitment process and reduces downtime costs
  • An online recruitment program will attract superior candidates at less cost than any other source of talent attraction process and improve the effectiveness of internal recruitment specialists.

Read in Original Format

The Northern Miner Mar 2012

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