James Mayes

It’s about transparency, not protectionism

In Facebook, LinkedIn, Recruitment, Social Media, Twitter on September 15, 2010 at 9:05 am

So this post is a quick reflection on a recent client meeting. The client concerned has been working with us for the last couple of months. In many ways, they’re the ideal player to be making moves in social recruiting: buy-in at board level; keen to learn about new technology; small enough to be agile; specialist enough to have brand value and so on.

We’ve been making steady progress with them in terms of  improving online visibility, understanding of the medium and the various platforms and indeed, these early moves have already delivered positive results. As you’d expect, these early results aren’t necessarily huge, but they’re sufficiently indicative that the client has gained in confidence.

So far, there’s only one concern they’ve raised.  Their market is niche, their candidates valuable.  If they become increasingly visible on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, competitors will be able to see who Follows or Likes the company. Does this not then form a feeding ground, giving away the spoils of all their hard work?

My response is a resounding NO! If you believe in Social Media and you believe in yourselves, this new environment is great way to show your candidates that you really are striving to be the best. If you’re transparent about this, your candidates will see and buy your belief in yourselves and be keener than ever to work with you in future.

I think we do great things for our clients – but I’ll admit in front of any of them that we’re still learning too.  So it’s not all about my response – what do you think?

  1. Good post. I agree, it’s important to have the confidence to let your guard down. Stand tall and be bold. Old habits die hard, though. Instinct dictates that many businesses will play safe in the social arena. However, if you have the (rare) backing of the Board you have a fighting chance.

    • Thanks Simon. I agree the Board makes the real difference here. That’s what’s unusual about this client – the top level is totally bought in, the protectionism concerns are being raised by the consultants. In my recent experience, it’s more often the other way round.

  2. Agreed also. This point was covered in the recent FIRM breakfast bash. It boils down to the fact that if, as an employer, you are offering an interesting, challenging and rewarding workplace then you should have no fear of losing your employees. And having a solid social media platform to shout about this will only attract the best talent.

  3. Coming from a recruitment agency angle – there will also be a paranoia about who you communicate with, who you connect with, and the risk of others seeing these things.
    I agree with James’ post, because my standpoint is that social media provides us with a conversational evolving database of the people that matter to our daily business – and if we groom that well enough, then we will retain the respect of that audience.
    If we don’t, they go elsewhere. That’s always been the same – but social media is prety public – and you have take the rough with the smooth.
    By being there, you create business opportunities down mutual channels you would otherwise not have – but equally your activity is largely open – and that creates risks on exclusivity of candidate, and partly client.

    I can live with that – I want my candidates to gain employment – not hoard them to myself and then do nothing with them! – if my best competitors gets hold of them (possibly through my referral) – and they get them a job, then we are all happy – because Social media is also about reputation, referral and recommendation – and don’t you always find it’s the open and honest people that get the recommendations..?

    • Top points, cheers Steve. I wonder if the wider take-up of social media against a backdrop of recession might just be the final nail in the coffin for some of the real cowboys out there? Might there come a time when an agency’s absence from Social Media is automatically seen as a warning sign that they daren’t risk transparency and public scrutiny? There’s another post to be developed on that subject, I think!

  4. Intresting post, it’s also a situation ive had to consider whilst designing the social media strategy for our organisation. Your spot on though, you have to believe in your band and good relationships to ensure that your clients and candidates stick with you.

  5. Hi James,

    You are right on! The point of social media is to make things public and known. Organizations that believe in what they do; who they hire; how they conduct business; treat their customers, employees AND job candidates should rest confidently in their “social” presence. And yes, buy-in needs to start at the top of the organization where all else begins.

  6. My take is that recruiters are generally afraid of what is not understood! I don’t mean that in a derogatory way and is also predominant in most industry and human nature. I have no fear of electricity or anything with a plug on it on the DIY front. But plumbing, no. I don’t understand it and don’t want to get wet!

    Socialrecruiting is a conversation and you understand it or you don’t. You will have it or you won’t. Tomorrow’s leaders need to think about that today – if they will still be or want to be here tomorrow!

    Even niche recruiters should know that candidates are on many other static databases as well as now connecting in social networks – they are [mostly] not talking to a recruiter exclusively and rarely have ever done.

    For my own tests, my preferred method [although my social media strategy is changing shape as I learn!] is that we develop several networks of followers in each of our specialist operating divisions. Of course, any competing recruiter would see our followers and they will most likely see the same people on their own database if they look – but the part of the conversation they don’t see is the value we are producing and exchanging in the more private space, e.g. our recruitment conversation – the one we’re already having since time began. It’s what we do with the connection building the relationship and feeding our internal systems with valuable updates [that we might otherwise not have], nurturing the relationship, whether either passive and ultimately a placement when the candidate becomes active.

    Candidates won’t network with anyone not worth following in terms of value according to their skill-sets and needs. Twitter is one of many platforms and no doubt other networks such as linkedin presents the same fears but also greater in all cases is the opportunity missed ~ not forgetting that most recruiters, clients and candidates main players, certainly in 5 years, will be today’s Gen Y savvy [also room for come Gen X converted people like me..] and will expect nothing less even whilst on the move! They won’t be checking their email inboxes either. We are so near in terms or mindset change but in some respects so far away. Well its Déjà vu since the advent of fax fear in 1985 and web 1.0 fear in 1996.

    It’s great to hear a board fully behind a social media strategy. With the greatest SM strategy on the planet it would otherwise be as useful as a message in a bottle or hidden in the Gobi desert without backing and understanding. Hence generally, how to influence is key. Obviously your client elect to be around tomorrow in looking at today but looking beyond fears, a glowing light will be seen!

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to respond in detail. THIS is where the conversation happens. It’s always a pleasure when I blog something which produces a decent response, whether that be debate or furtherance of the original concept. In your case, I can’t find a blog from the links you’ve left here – but if you have one, please let me know, I’ll gladly subscribe. James.

  7. Just written a follow-up post for anyone wishing to continue on this topic? http://wp.me/pPmPM-38

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: