Unleash The Power Of Social Media Recruitment

Social media is everywhere in the modern world. Its ability to improve communication and to compel our attention makes it one of the most powerful forces of the 21st century. This makes it incredibly useful to recruiters, but many have yet to unleash that power.

So how can you get the most out of social media in recruitment?

Innovation And Imitation

Most companies have now jumped on the social media bandwagon, making it a feature of their recruitment strategies. But they use it in the way that they used old-fashioned techniques like mass advertising.

The old way is a spray-and-pray approach to recruitment. Like a Gatling gun, designed to throw hundreds of bullets into the air in the hope that just one hits, the old-school recruiter hurls adverts out into the void in the hope that someone will see them. Sure, the eyes of the world are now on social media, and so adverts there have a chance of getting anyone’s attention. But unless the social media strategy is better differentiated, unless the adverts are correctly channeled and carefully crafted, they have very little chance of reaching someone who cares.

Social media is an innovative medium, but many of the adverts just imitate old ways of working.

Standing Out And Being Heard

A select few companies approach social media in a way that differentiates them from the crowded, noisy marketplace of social media. They do so not by following old patterns but by disrupting the way companies communicate with the talent community.

As Seth Godin has often pointed out, this sort of marketing is about connecting directly and personally with the people most likely to be interested in you. It is about building the right relationships, not trying to talk to everyone at once. It is about showing what unique things your business has to offer.

The most powerful way to do this is to tell a story. Humans have been telling and responding to stories since we first sat around campfires in the dark of night. We instinctively respond to stories and the emotions they evoke. So use social media to tell a story about your company, what you stand for and what opportunities you offer. Make it a story that inspires, that engages, that elicits an emotional response, and that declares a call to action – to come and work for you.

Reaping The benefits

A company that can disrupt the communications of the talent community will see real value in return.

You will see increased brand recognition, as your story lodges in people’s hearts and minds. You’ll become a company that people are interested in working in for your sake, not for the pay and benefits.

You will see increased access to passive candidates, those who are not actively seeking a new job. These are often the best people to recruit as they have the skills that others also want and the right attitude to turn their work into something productive and fulfilling. But without that story they may never notice the opportunities you offer.

You will see greater process efficiency in recruiting talent as you make use of the best tools. You will also see reductions in talent acquisition’s process costs. Increased access to candidates means you have to spend less time and money hunting them out, decreasing the amount of time in which jobs remain unfilled. And as brand power overtakes salary concerns in attracting recruits there will be less need to offer expensive packages to get the best.

So get out there, tell your story, disrupt the recruitment landscape. Get the best out of your social media recruitment.

About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm and Tack3, a mid-market and not-for-profit focused consultancy. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity.

Branding On The Inside

There are many lessons that can be taken from marketing and applied to HR. From the obvious point of how best to advertise a job to ways of spreading messages and training through an organization, marketing has been a source of useful innovation for HR for years.

One of the most powerful tools, and one of the most often misapplied, is branding.

The Surface Of The Brand

On the surface, brands are all about image. Consistent visuals, voice and style are important in getting the brand across. As a result, many attempts at internal branding focus on these features. It’s about matching Post-It notes, posters with the corporate logo, team T-shirts for away days.

The problem is that these are the surface features of a brand. They’re used to convey its real message to customers. But employees, already embedded within the organization, don’t need these things. It can even feel patronizing for someone who has helped shape policy or spent hundreds of hours answering customers’ questions to be treated as if a pen with a logo should mean something to them.

Brands As Values

The power of brands comes from their ability to get people’s buy-in, to get them engaged with an organization. In an era when employee engagement is so essential this is a great thing to tap into. But that means looking more deeply at the brand.

People don’t buy Nike because of the aesthetic quality of that swoosh. For anyone but a designer that’s an obscure detail to explore. What people buy into about Nike are the values it represents. The messages of boldness, courage, and a can-do spirit. Of living life fully and physically.

The swoosh is just a symbol of that.

Deep Branding

If you want employees to engage with the brand, you have to do more to convince them. They see behind the logos and the slogans to the beating heart of your company, the space where they spend their nine to five. To create a sense of excitement around a set of values you have to make sure that the company lives those values.

So if your company claims to value clear, open and honest communication, then that’s something you have to start living by. Senior leaders have to clearly and openly share the thinking behind decisions. Policies and procedures have to be stripped of jargon and clutter so they’re easy to understand. Management practices built around evasion or deception have to be stamped down hard.

If your company lives its brand, lives the values that it espouses, then it will gain a deeper meaning for your employees, beyond merely being the space where they earn their pay checks. It will provide values that they can commit to.

In And Back Out Again

Using deep branding to improve employee engagement is a worthy goal in itself. But it also has an added bonus.

If you live the values that your brand represents then the cracks in your image will never show, because they won’t be there. Nothing undermines an institution like the image of hypocrisy. To take the example of Nike again, the discovery that the company was using sweatshop labor did great harm because it contradicted the values of health and opportunity Nike purported to represent. A government department claiming to support open democracy will come under fire the moment it keeps a secret.

If you live by your brand, it will show in every action your employees take, and there will be no hypocrisy to find. Everything will reinforce that outward image of the brand, delivered by employees who are passionate and committed.

So embrace the power of the brand. Embrace your values.

About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm and Tack3, a mid-market and not-for-profit focused consultancy. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity.

Purple Recruit: Applying Seth Godin’s Branding Ideas To HR

Brand marketing is a field that contains many innovators and sharp thinkers. Nowhere is this more visible than in the work of Seth Godin, author of books such as Linchpin and Purple Cow, has turned old mass marketing practices upside down, showing a more personal, more human and vastly more effective way of marketing.

But his insights, like so many from marketing, can also be applied in other areas. Godin’s ideas give us some great material to apply in HR.

The Employment Brand

Godin has talked about all sorts of fascinating aspects of the human brand — how we can turn ourselves into brands, making ourselves invaluable to employers through the unique combination of qualities we provide.

But this is true of employers as well as employees, and can be a way to draw in the best workers.

This is partly a matter of vision. Godin has shown that, in the modern world, it’s not enough to just provide the same thing everyone else does. You have to be the purple cow of his book title, the example that stands out from the crowd. When considering the vision for your HR department, and particularly for recruitment, you should be thinking about what that vision is, what makes you special to employees.

But some of it is also about specific tactics. Godin’s emphasis is on marketing as a matter of building up relationships rather than just scattering the news about yourself over a wide area. This is the key to how the best modern marketers engage with their audience, and it should also be used by recruiters. Narrow in on the parts of the recruitment pool most likely to be a good fit for you and then build up relationships with them. Reach out rather than waiting for them to come to you. Listen for what they want from an employer rather than telling them why they should want you.

Brand Benefits

This might sound like a lot of effort — any change to our familiar patterns does. But it’s really just a matter of re-focusing your existing efforts, and the rewards can easily outweigh the costs.

In going through the process of recruitment, a little extra effort building in-depth relationships with the best recruitment pools can increase the reliability of your recruitment process and reduce the cost per hire. After all, good recruitment is not about getting dozens of candidates through your recruitment process; it’s about getting the right one. If you already have a relationship with the talent pool, then you won’t need to cast your net as wide for interviewees, and you may even be able to hunt out the person whom you want.

This also increases the reliability of your hiring process and reduces the time to bring someone on board by removing the cumbersome mechanisms of mass advertising and mass interviewing.

But it has consequences beyond this, for the whole time that an employee is with you. If they know and understand your brand in advance, if they are not just accepting of it but passionate about it from an established relationship, then they will be more engaged with their work. This will lead to them working harder. It will improve morale and so increase retention, once again saving costs to you from recruitment.

Learning from others can be a humbling experience, as it involves acknowledging the limits of our own knowledge. But there is no shame in accepting that we know less than a best-selling leader in his field like Seth Godin, and in applying his lessons to our own field.

About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm and Tack3, a mid-market and not-for-profit focused consultancy. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity.

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‘Recognize’ For Better Employee Engagement

Statistics show that 88% of employees don’t feel passionate about their work, and that this level of employee disengagement is costing the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Employee disengagement is a huge problem for businesses looking to get the most out of their employees and to retain them in the long term. This makes engagement the number one priority for many managers.

It’s easy to leap in and try to make changes in search of better engagement. But the best starting place is to acknowledge what’s already there.

Recognize Differences

Productivity often comes from finding and using the different personalities within a team, turning each of them to their best use. The old-fashioned way of doing business was to blot out an individual’s personality and creativity, to try to get him or her to match what the business expected. But though that approach has thankfully been left behind by many, the way that we move on and work with individual personalities matters.

There is much talk of toleration in our society. Tolerating differences. Tolerating others. Tolerating the things that affect us. And so it is with the personalities of employees — we often tolerate their quirks.

But just tolerating isn’t enough. None of us wants to just be tolerated. To really engage staff we need to recognize and encourage their individual personalities, to connect with them and make use of their strengths, to embrace rather than just accept them.

Recognize The Need To Belong

The need to belong is fundamental to human happiness, and so, like so many of our psychological rather than physical needs, it can be very powerful in creating employee engagement.

There are all sorts of ways in which we can foster a sense of belonging, most of them revolving around building connections between people and dealing with behavior that leaves some excluded. But the most fundamental part of all of this is recognizing and acknowledging that need to belong, seeing it not just as a nice extra but as something that is fundamental to a well-run team.

If someone feels excluded that will soon become apparent. Look at what is causing the feeling, and face the painful truth that it may come from your own behavior. Then look for ways to make that person feel more welcome. Because when employees aren’t struggling against situations in which they don’t feel they belong, then their energy will be freed up for positive engagement.

Recognize The Fear Of Freedom

Freedom is a fantastic thing, for businesses as well as for people. Freeing staff up to make decisions for themselves, to take responsibility for their work, to decide their own working patterns, this can unleash their creativity in ways that nothing else can.

But freedom, and the need to make endless decisions, can also be scary. This doesn’t mean that you should let staff retreat from that freedom, or that you should do so yourself. But it does mean that, if you want them to engage with that freedom and with making big decisions, then you need to be there to support them. Recognize the fear, however small it might be, however absurd the cause might seem to you. Accept it rather than judging it, and acknowledge that it affects you too. Then help the person to make his or her decisions and move on past. The more employees do that, the more they will engage with the work and the less fear will dominate.

Better engagement takes action. But getting that action right means recognizing the circumstances in which it is built, and embracing even the most awkward of them.

About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm and Tack3, a mid-market and not-for-profit focused consultancy. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity.

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Rise To The Challenge: Live Your Impact

How much difference did you make today? If you were to step back and look at that work, would you feel like you added real value to the world, or just kept things ticking over?

It’s easy to slip into doing the same old thing with your work, to take the safe options rather than rise to the challenge, to follow the aims set out for you by others.

Easy but not satisfying, and not the best that you could do for you or for the world around you.

Rising To The Challenge

If you want to make a difference, then you need to rise to the challenge, and the first step is identifying a challenge that’s worthwhile.

Look for a problem in the world around you, an absence or a failing, something that doesn’t just make you think but that makes you feel like there is a need for change. Tesla Motors has done this with its bold dedication to producing electric cars. Tesla identified a need for more environmentally friendly cars that are enjoyable to drive. It’s risen to that challenge, driving down the cost of eco-conscious living in the face of some huge difficulties.

Part of finding your challenge lies in recognizing that business does not exist in a vacuum. It is linked to wider social and environmental issues, and if we don’t support our world and society then it won’t support business. Find a purpose, a way for your business to have an impact, and set that as your goal.

Asking Why

This is about more than just leaping to the first, most obvious solution. Look deeply at the problem you’ve seen, whether it’s litter on the streets, an educational shortfall or any of the hundreds of other causes that fire people’s passions. Take a tip from the Toyota Production System and ask why things are the way they are, asking again and again until you get to the root of the problem.

Then look at the solutions offered and ask why they don’t work. Even chimps can look at the behavior of others around them and spot the flaws, finding a better way through. There’s no excuse for us not to.

If you already have an established business and are looking to transform it, then ask what harm social and environmental damage are doing to your business, and how you could do something to solve this. Show your employees and shareholders how the solution helps them.

Believe In Yourself, Believe In Better

Staying focused is vital to success. That’s as true in keeping to your purpose as it is in juggling your daily tasks. There will be times when the obstacles seem insurmountable, when flashy distractions and easy options might lure you away from your purpose. But if you believe in yourself, if you believe in your cause and your ability to make a change, then you can overcome anything.

Look again at Tesla Motors. Following the financial crisis the motor industry was in disarray. Even General Motors was filing for bankruptcy, and against this backdrop it was all but impossible to find funding for a relatively unknown car firm, especially one with such a radical and risky focus. But Tesla stuck with it, found funding, and has gone on to provide real innovation in the industry. By the first quarter of 2013 it was posting profits for the first time.

If you have a purpose that people value then they will come round to your cause. If you have a purpose that you value then you will be able to stick with it, even when the going gets tough.

Find your purpose. Live your impact. Make a difference, for you and for the world.

About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm. In addition, Mark currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Behavioral Health Service North, a large behavioral health services provider in New York, and on the faculty of the State University of New York (SUNY).

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