Social Recruiting - Unsolicited Advice from a Passive Candidate
July 12, 2018 by Shelley Trout, Manager at Recruiting Brief
Hands up if you have a love/ hate relationship with your social media.
Okay - I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit it: I do! I love my social media because it lets me feel connected to my friends no matter where I am. At the same time, it’s always seemed a bit weird that there should be pages on the Internet for public consumption that are all about me - my photographs, my accomplishments, my family, my friends - as though placing an online advertisement to inform anyone who’s interested exactly how great I am.
Now, I keep my profiles pretty locked down. Friends of friends only, privacy settings optimized. But even I am not immune to social recruiters, as I learned a few weeks ago. I’ve been aware of social recruiting for a while now, and just last month, it finally happened to me. A recruiter contacted me out of the blue on my social media and asked me if I wanted to talk about a job opportunity.
Full disclosure - I am not a recruiter myself. I am, however, the editor of Recruiting Brief, a website and newsletter that curates thought leadership for recruiters and talent acquisition professionals. For the last year or so, I’ve watched social recruiting ebb and flow on the recruiting scene - like a new phenomenon that’s trying to work out exactly how big (or how small) a space it should take up. I think it has a great amount of potential, but as a recent recipient of one such recruiting attempt, I have one or two thoughts.
1) Social media is where I go to be “me.”
We all have hats we wear - the work hat, the family vacation hat, the best friend’s birthday party hat - and most of us keep those hats apart. We’ve been told repeatedly that it’s not a good idea to add work colleagues on Facebook, and those of us that do probably have a filter that excludes them. To have “work opportunities” approach us in this personal space can therefore be a little jarring, so there is definitely a right or wrong way to go about it. After all, if you looked at my social media and saw me being “me” - not “me on my best behavior at a job interview” - and still decided you’d like to hire me, that’s a plus, right? Pull it off correctly, and you might just stand out to a candidate in all the right ways.
However, this probably isn’t the place to immediately start talking about work, either. If it’s during the day, then the chances are that I’m checking my social media to try and forget about work for a few minutes. If it’s in the evening, I’m probably trying to relax. And if it’s on a holiday or a weekend? I’m probably not even going to answer until Monday (at which point I will probably forget about you).
Angie Verros of Vaia Talent has an amazing approach to social recruiting. It’s positively revolutionary: she just starts conversations with people! If she sees a profile picture on their Twitter page that she also likes, she’ll send a message to say, “Cool pic,” and start a conversation. It’s brilliant because you don’t feel like you’ve been mass-spammed the same email a thousand other people are getting. My social media is all about me, after all!
Recruiting Brief was fortunate enough to have Angie come on-board as a speaker for a webinar on this topic very recently, and you can listen to the recording of that webinar here: A Walk in Their Shoes. Give it a listen to learn more tricks for less awkward social recruiting.
2) Unconscious bias is a real thing.
Now, I know I said I’m not a recruiter, but I do hire my own assistant editors at Recruiting Brief, so unconscious bias is something I’m very aware of. This means that during the application process, I do everything possible to avoid signals that could tap into a bias I am unaware of. I skip right over the header and contact information and go straight into the work history and relevant information. I don’t even read their names until I’ve already decided whether or not I’d like to talk to them.
Checking someone’s social media directly removes the ability to do that. There’s usually a photograph prominently placed, as well as their name. Within seconds, your first impression is formed based on their apparent gender, age, and nationality - on top of less well-known biases, such as the beauty bias and the halo/horns effect.
Is there a way to recruit responsibly on social media?
One of our featured bloggers on Recruiting Brief, Alongside, believes that there is. They believe social media is too valuable for recruiters to simply not use. Therefore, it’s up to the recruiter to become aware of their biases, and use tools like rubrics strictly, to make sure they are doing everything they can to counter them. In a webinar last year, Alongside shared the fact that 3 out of 4 recruiters check social media profiles - even when they are not provided - and that 1 out of 3 rejects candidates based on the information they find there. One-third of all recruiters is one-third too many, so I highly recommend Alongside’s article, All the advice you need to manage your unconscious bias - complete with the slide deck from their webinar on this topic.
3) Please remember YOU are reaching out to ME
I think everyone knows the pain of being contacted by a pushy recruiter with a job opportunity that’s “just right!” and “based on your experience” - only to open the email and find it’s something that has nothing to do with anything listed on your resume, in this lifetime or the last. (The really special souls will also manage to misspell your name or address it to the wrong person entirely).
Okay - spam is spam. “Spray and pray” is a fairly well-used email tactic. However, if you reach out to someone on their personal social media via the chat or messaging function, spelling their name correctly is the least of your worries. Recruiting Daily’s Ted Bauer has an amusing story about a recruiter he was in touch with via LinkedIn. She had viewed his profile six or seven times and talked with him in messages, yet still had no idea where he was presently based.
But wait - it can get worse than simply getting off on the wrong contextual foot. If you reach out to me, telling me that this job would be a great fit, it’s slightly weird if you then turn around and ask me why I think I should be considered for the role. Um - I assume I am, because you asked me to consider it…?
Trust me, it’s already slightly weird to realize that in the eyes of a recruiter I am not a “happily employed person to leave alone,” but a “passive candidate who just might jump ship for the right opportunity”. Don’t make it any stranger by asking me why I think that you think that I think I should be allowed to jump ship… see, confusing, isn’t it? Ted Bauer’s awesome article is here, by the way - How much is “social recruiting” really happening?
It would be remiss of me to write an article like this without saying that I do love recruiters. Working at Recruiting Brief, I am fortunate enough to meet and talk with a lot of amazing talent professionals - like Angie Verros, David Nicola, Derek Zeller, Katrina Kibben, and many others who genuinely care about people, and want to see them placed in jobs they love and can excel in. The strength of the industry lies in that passion, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work alongside so many people who do care so much - to read their thoughts in our curated newsletter, and even interview them occasionally in our various webinar series.
At its heart, Recruiting Brief is a celebration of this passion for recruiting - a meeting place for people who care to come and share what works well for them, and help shape the industry in the direction everyone ultimately wants it to go in. That’s why we’re thrilled to be partnered with the Social Recruiting Strategies Conferences, who are so fully committed to the improvement and optimization of social recruiting. In just six years, SRSC has become the conference leader for recruiters and talent acquisition professionals across all industries, and we’re proud to have our name alongside theirs - and looking forward to the 2018 conference!