Social Recruiting around the world - Australia

One the best things about emerging social technologies is that they are making the world of recruitment suddenly seems a lot flatter. International networking is now something everyone can do and I think it's great that people are sharing experiences and ideas across many different geographies. However while there is much discussion, identifying the experts who have genuine insight can be rather problematic. With this in mind I'm starting an occasional series looking at the development of social recruiting through the eyes of experts I know and trust who will writing about their own market.

Kicking things off is a guest post about social recruiting in the Australian market written by my old friend and former colleague Dave Drury. There are huge differences between the digital recruitment markets in the UK and Australia but I think there are also some very interesting parallels coming through in what he writes

About Dave

Dave Drury is a digital expert based in Sydney whose career focuses on digital recruitment and retention. With 14 years experience, Dave has worked with clients from around the world, and takes pride in being part of the digital evolution in the employment marketing sector. He is currently Head of Digital at leading marketing and communications company Adcorp

Dave's guest post

Traditionally the Christmas and New Year season is when Australians are more exposed to their social networks then other times throughout the year. At this time the sun is out and we look forward to a barbeque, beers and backyard cricket with our friends and family. Whilst these social traditions are unlikely to change in the near future, a new wave of social communication is being accepted and embraced in Australia - online social networks.

Online social networks are transforming the way knowledge is shared, conversations are started, relationships are strengthened, companies are promoted, and jobs are found and filled. Whilst online is only one part of an integrated recruitment plan, it is becoming increasingly more integral. For online recruitment the talent acquisition process of attracting,  engaging, communicating and hiring prospective candidates using online social media tools can be called ‘social recruiting’ – a term that will become more familiar in Australia throughout 2010.

Today’s online social networks are certainly alive and kicking for individuals in Australia and have been for several years. Networks including facebook, YouTube, and myspace are common knowledge for most people within metropolitan and larger regional destinations. Most people (15yo – 65yo) will have had exposure to all, and some interaction with at least 2 out of 3 of these. Twitter, Ning, bebo, flikr, and LinkedIn are less known but the uptake is certainly growing. And there are numerous niche social networks that seem to be sprouting every other week. It is not surprising that generations X and Y lead the adoption rate across the board, with baby boomers taking a little longer.

Traditionally, Australia has been very familiar with and accustomed to a transactional approach to recruitment advertising - place an advertisement in the right medium and the traffic will respond. Whilst this mentality is dissolving and it is understood that there is far more strategy and media saturation required for results today, the notion still very much exists through job boards and offline communication vehicles. It is candidates, not companies, who are driving the shift in what is quickly becoming a social network saturated environment as the primary destination for talent.

Companies are certainly aware of social networks, however most (even today) are intimidated by the unknown, more concerned with mitigating what negative dialogue might be displayed rather then leveraging the good, ignorant of the opportunity to positively influence conversations, and happy to sit on the fence and see what happens. As an ex CEO of mine used to say, “If you sit on the fence for too long, you’ll get sore balls.” Mind you, fences in Australia are often made from timber palings so this comment certainly has some validity. I digress.

With many sister companies of those here in Australia being in the United States, Europe or the UK there is always a watchful eye to see how social networks are used to influence the recruitment process. Whilst we keenly learn from our global siblings, Australia constantly strives to be recognized themselves for benchmark employment solutions on the global stage. If Australia (and New Zealand) is going to continue to compete for talent with the rest of the world (eg: Health, Mining, Education sectors) then knowledge and experience of social recruiting must evolve considerably from where it is today.

In 2009, the early adopters of many corporate sectors (Retail, Professional Services, Mining, Education, and Travel to name a few) began to dip their toes in the social recruiting waters and no doubt received affirming results for their efforts. Many employment solutions included corporate career sites combined with one or several of the following: •    Videos integrated from YouTube •    Jobs integrated on corporate careers sites •    RSS feeds •    Company blogs •    Company facebook pages •    Facebook used as an alumni •    Graduate twitter groups •    Myspace sites to support campaigns •    Viral eBay campaigns

Social networks have certainly been used in Australia, but the execution of calculated social recruitment strategies is rare. That is, setting up a managed and monitored social recruiting strategy that considers each target audience separately and aligns that audience with carefully selected social networks and online media that both individually and collectively deliver on predefined outcomes.

Recruitment consultants seem to understand the opportunity that exists through social networks and are beginning to execute conversations using them. Linkedin would be the professional network of choice here and is ideal for recruiters to target specific candidates based on skill set, experience, location, etc. Whilst beneficial to recruiters, there is a responsibility for candidates to protect their personal online brands so as not to unwillingly expose their profiles. This is all part of the learning process that comes with owning and managing data in the online realm.

Whilst there are a few wet feet, there is still much to learn about social recruiting in Australia. One of the recruiting challenges for 2010 for employers will be to execute well-constructed social recruiting strategies. Employers today are really only limited by their lack of knowledge and experience in what truly is a new way of recruiting. There are certainly other micro limitations however the fear of ‘not knowing what you don’t know’ and the failure to proactively act on this is greater than all else.

Employers in 2010 will be looking toward stability and growth after a tumultuous 2009. Those that want to move forward should embrace social recruiting now and evolve with it. Those that choose to remain sitting on the fence…

Dave Drury January 2010