"By Grads for Grads" - Social Recruiting from Unilever

I’ve been slightly disappointed lately with the quality of Social Recruiting case studies coming through and this is why I haven’t featured any on the blog for a while. Although some great work is being done, many organizations are just focusing on “social job distribution” and in so doing are missing many of the key advantages that social is bringing to recruitment. With this in mind I was delighted, while doing some work for them just before Christmas, to get an insight into how Unilever are setting about making their UK graduate recruitment properly social. Before going into the detail of the tactics and channels Unilever are using, it is important to reflect on the strategic thinking and resource planning round their social tag line “By Grads for Grads”.  Unilever has recognized that to be effective in the social space they have to have a genuinely authentic conversation with their graduate audience rather than talking at them as the majority of graduate recruiters still seem to do. Instead of using an advertising agency to “manage” their activity Unilever have put together a digital team of previous graduate recruits to run the social channels and be responsible for answering questions while keeping the conversation flowing.

Having current grads help recruit the next year’s intake is nothing new but Unilever are one of the few companies I’ve come across using social technologies to extend the reach of such an initiative. By putting such a resource in place I feel Unilever are in a fantastic position to be transparent about any gap between their employer brand perception and their employer brand reality.

The execution of the strategy runs mainly across Facebook and Twitter. There has also been the recent addition of a growing YouTube channel of video content. It’s great to see an employer really thinking about the importance of conversations and while the content does play an important role, Unilever aren’t blindly taking assets from their website and dumping it onto Facebook in the same way some of their competitors do!

As this is a fairly new initiative it is slightly early to be able to analyze the results. This is also an evolving strategy rather than a one off campaign and more sophisticated measurement techniques are currently being put in place to assess the true long term value of the approach.

Stella Maerker who helps run the digital graduate team has this to say about the success of the campaign:

“We can see a steady increase of followers and fans. Click through rates from the social media pages to the careers website and vice versa prove growing traffic. Applicants will be asked about our social media pages during application process. The real success will be number of successful graduates that got attracted to Unilever by interacting with current grads online!”

While I’m sure some purists (if you can have such a thing in a brand new field!) might criticize the comparatively low number of followers I think this is actually irrelevant at this stage of an ongoing initiative. Unilever have gone for a quality rather than quantity approach and the time spend considering their long term strategy and allocating dedicated internal resources are bound to pay dividends in the long term as social becomes their most important channel for graduate recruitment.

There are of course huge challenges in applying this kind of approach to a broader selection of Unilever’s recruitment activity but Unilever are committed to doing soon. As their Global Resourcing Director Paul Maxin says:

"Digital and social media is a key enabler to the way Unilever builds an engagement based approach to our employment brand equity. We'll continue to integrate it, providing candidate-centric platforms that build advocacy of our employment brand and scale the approach both regionally and globally."

Social Recruiting around the world – Part 4: A "conversation" from the UK

When I started this blog series I really struggled to find any decent UK Social Recruiting case studies worthy of inclusion.  I was therefore delighted when yet another of my former colleagues, Mark Beavan, agreed to write a guest post about his recent campaign for The National Trust. I really liked working with Mark when he was doing his "apprenticeship' and I really like this case study for a number of reasons. First of all because it's public sector (take note commercial recruiters!), secondly because it was successful with a hard to fill vacancy being filled and finally because it is brilliantly simple. No complex platform integrations just transparency, conversation and above all proper active listening. Well done to Mark, ThirtyThree and The National Trust! About Mark

Mark Beavan has worked in digital recruitment for the past 11 years, having served his apprenticeship at TMP and then continuing his development in the digital team of ThirtyThree. Mark is currently the Head of Digital for the Bristol agency, a role that seen him design and implement large scale digital advertising campaigns for a wide range of clients, from SME clients, blue-chip companies and high volume recruiters, through to large public sector organisations. He has also managed the design, development and launch of some key, award-winning website development projects for LV=, Davis Langdon, Virgin Mobile, the Audit Commission, Claire’s and NFU Mutual.

"Is it sad that I should find the potential that social media offers recruiters quite so interesting? As a human being possibly. But as a digital recruitment adviser there is little doubt that social media offers the huge amount of attraction, engagement and branding opportunities. Opportunities that frankly weren’t available two years ago.

I too get frustrated that the practical applications of social media aren’t moving quite as fast as the theoretical applications - and I too am constantly searching for the case studies that we all feel reassured by. But they simply don’t seem to be there – be sure if they were the recruitment teams (and any associated agencies) would be shouting about them.

But examples of a strategic approach to social recruitment are increasing, with some excellent examples of content generation, platform building and online reputation management. But developing strategic recruitment plans is only part of the job of an advertising agency (or recruitment communications business) does and often clients are interested in how social media can help them on a tactical, job-by-job level.

It wasn’t until we entered the National Trust’s campaign to recruit their Head of Digital Media into this years RAD awards that we learned how few examples of tactical social recruiting there were out there. But fundamentally the strategy is the same:

•    Find your audience (identify the key influencers) •    Listen (and if no-one’s talking, drive the conversation) •    Take on board the comments (and use it to produce useful and interesting content) •    Go back and engage with audience

But enough with the theory, this is what the National Trust actually did …

The goal of the campaign was of course to attract and engage the best possible digital media talent for The National Trust. It wasn’t easy as their first approach had resulted in a high drop-off rate of candidates invited to interview. The challenge was to find out why this had happened and put in place a strategy that would be more suited (and appealing) to the target audience.

So they went to their target market to find out why the initial approach hadn’t been successful. They asked the applicants and short-listed candidates, as well as members of appropriate LinkedIn groups and digital forums, for answers. The ‘crowd’ highlighted that the initial campaign didn’t reassure them of the Trust’s commitment to digital and also that the location of the role wasn’t particularly attractive. And it was quickly realised that to engage their target audience of digital experts they needed to build a significant presence online – particularly within the social media space.

To address the concerns about the Trust’s digital investment the ‘Director of Marketing’ and outgoing ‘Head of Digital Media’ were interviewed highlighting how important this investment was to the future of the organisation. To provide an insight into the working environment we made a short film highlighting the uniqueness of the Trust’s state-of-the-art office. These were then streamed using the National Trust’s Vimeo channel - the video sharing site of choice amongst the creative community. Then to pull this content together and introduce a strong creative concept they launched a micro-site carrying a (popular) retro-digital design, www.hungryfordigitalchange.org.uk. The site was launched essentially only as a platform for delivering the video and written content that was produced. With the content in place we went back to the digital community and this time the Trust were able to address the major concerns by directing interested candidates to the micro-site and the videos.

The Trust also made a conscious decision not to advertise the vacancy heavily, but mainly to ‘push’ this opportunity out to the digital community using social media - LinkedIn groups, Facebook, digital forums and on Twitter via the Trust’s account, the outgoing Head of Digital Media’s own account and the ThirtyThree Digital team. The videos and the micro-site were shared using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter … then we then sat back and watched it propagate across the different social media platforms.

How effective the campaign was can be seen in the results. The two week campaign generated over 120 conversations or references in discussion forums, blogs or Tweets. This activity combined with a small job board and search engine presence saw over 1,800 visitors arrive at the micro-site to find out more, of these 77% came from the seeded conversations originated by the Trust and ThirtyThree, 20% from job board and search engine activity and 3% from other (unspecified) conversations. All this activity resulted in over 120 applications, 3 high-calibre candidates interviewed and 1 hire. A hire who saw the opportunity discussed in a LinkedIn forum.

What I like about this example  - besides the fact that it filled the vacancy - was the way that the digital community reacted to this approach. The original Tweet from the Trust was re-Tweeted over and over again, the comments were incredibly complimentary and the feedback the Trust received was very positive. But that’s because the approach was right - the Trust listened to what the target audience had to say, they addressed their concerns by building content on platforms best suited to deliver their message and then communicated it out to the market using social media that we knew they would be using."

Social Recruiting around the world - Part 3: Some thoughts from the USA

Next up in the Social Recruiting around the world series are some thoughts on brand and reputation from Sabine Gillert of TMP Worldwide North America Sabine is a Senior Brand Consultant for TMP currently living in San Francisco. She is someone whose opinion I've valued greatly ever since I worked with her in London a few years ago. She has some interesting thoughts on what Social Recruiting is and what companies should be doing to take full advantage of it -

"When Matt asked me to write about social media recruiting, he did not send an email to my work email address, but rather he asked me over an email on Facebook – this in itself should tell you just how much Facebook and other forms of social media have become such an integral part of our daily lives.

Today, people communicate with each other in so many different places, we no longer rely on just one email address or a phone number we have multiple ways that people can communicate with us and when we seek out information about a movie, a restaurant or an organization, we no longer rely on just one web site or source to obtain our information, instead we consult multiple online sources for information. Many of these contain user generated content and since we rely so much on the opinion of our networks, these messages appear to us to be more transparent and credible than content generated by for example a marketing department of an organization.

This applies to our approach to searching for jobs too. If we want to find out about the employment experience at an organization, sure we’d look at the company web site for opportunities but before the application is made, we’d talk to our network of friends and peers (most likely online) and we’d search (Google) the internet to find more information about the employment experience.

Here in the US we have seen a rise in  employee opinion web site such as Jobvent and Glassdoor where users go to so they can openly discuss their employment experience. Search being as dynamic as it is, means that these comments are starting to come up in search results when a user searches for information about a company.  Along with these specific sites, anyone can post their comments on their own Facebook pages, or write blogs or post you tube videos. The possibilities for communicating how one feels about work are almost endless today, all of this can appear in a search result.

This type of openness can obviously create a certain perceptions about an organization as a place to work and it may not always be positive, so what can companies do to change the way their organization is represented in the social media space?

The first and most important advice is to join in the conversation.

We have helped organizations find success with the creation of a company page on Facebook as well as branded pages on Linked In and  Twitter but the companies that have used these tools successfully are they ones that actively participated in the chatter.

Companies that are actively training their employees to become brand ambassadors that can actively help to manage the tone of the conversation in line with their employer brand are the ones that are proactively managing their brand in the social media space. After all, you don’t want other people creating a perception about your employment experience on your behalf.

TMP recently polled participants at a webinar how they were using social networking, responses included almost all of the “popular” social media platform available today and most notable included the top three that we believe should be in any social media strategy today. Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.

There are three key ways in which a company could utilize social media for recruiting:

-       Networking

-       Building a talent community

-       Traditional advertising

The most successful companies will use a combination of all three.

For network building we see a great amount of activity on Linked In. Recruiters seem to be most comfortable in this space since there are specific tools available for recruiters to use. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be utilized to build a talent community. Twitter is relatively easy and certainly cost effective to manage and implement and here in the US over 60% of Twitter users are between the ages of 35 and 49. This may very possibly be your target audience.

Traditional web advertising still has relevance in this mix especially on sites like Facebook because even though this environment is often recognized as being a more “private” environment over say Linked In, the eyeballs are on Facebook and it is a good way to drive the audience to your job related content elsewhere.

Don’t forget that using social media is not anything like a web site, it is critical that you actively monitor your social presence. How you manage your brand online is becoming one of the most important tools companies can have in their recruiting toolbox today."

Social Recruiting around the world: Part 2 A case study from New Zealand

Part two of my Social Recruiting around the world series features a real life case study from Richard Long the Manager of Talent Acquisition for Deloitte New Zealand. With so much talk, theory and speculation surrounding the role of social media in recruitment, it's great to hear from a company that is actually putting things into practice and I'm really grateful that Richard is prepared to share his experiences. I also absolutely love his idea about "Community DJs"! A bit about Richard - Richard Long is Manager, Talent Acquisition at Deloitte NZ and has been at Deloitte for about 4.5 years. His role is to lead Deloitte NZ’s recruitment team and develop talent acquisition strategy for the firm. With a background in marketing, he has been in recruitment for 11 years (mainly internal corporate recruitment). Richard lives in Auckland NZ with his partner Tracey and 2-year-old son Curtis. Outside of work and family he is into music in quite a big way.

"When I first started researching social media’s application to recruitment for Deloitte in New Zealand, I found I got confused by the enormous amount of deep analysis available on the topic. The more I read, the more confused I got – to the point where I felt I would never understand this thing called social media – even though I have been a keen user of Facebook, Myspace and other music related web 2.0 platforms like Soundcloud. It was not the technology that baffled me it was the thousands of articles of analysis and endless strategising.

One day, I had an epiphany – social media is simply about talking to each other. We can take that a step further when thinking about how social media can be applied to a firm like Deloitte’s recruitment – it’s about creating dialogue and engagement. I was lucky enough to be able to work with Paul Jacobs from Engage and it was Paul who framed social media to me in those terms and after that it seemed so simple, I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t realised this before!

The thing about social media I have observed is that many organisations would love to be in it, but are paralysed by issues including: •    Endless research •    Over strategising •    Lengthy report and proposal writing to board and management groups •    Fear of risk (what will they say about us??) •    How will we measure it (we must have numbers!!) •    Fear of failure It is my belief that social media has actually changed business rules to the extent that the processes we may have gone through in the past to get initiatives like this off the ground no longer apply. Indeed if we try and apply those old rules we may fail. The reason; the landscape of social media and web 2.0 is changing by the hour and if you don’t draw a line in the sand and jump in with both feet a couple of things will happen: •    Those who are in it will always be ahead of you •    You will always be following – not leading •    It’s difficult to understand unless you’re in it •    You can’t see opportunities as they develop Don’t get me wrong – I think you need a strategy and you need to understand the risks that apply to your business. However, you need to do it fast. It’s a movable feast – the old framework of research, proposal, sign off, project plan, development and implementation and measurement of your nicely structured, well planned and neatly implemented thing does not apply with social media. With social media you kind of do the whole thing at once – the project changes and develops along the way – how will we measure it? I’m not sure, let’s see what happens...

Social media for our business has been about handing over control to the user. Our approach to social media has been to hand over the reins to students and allow them to control the experience. I really didn’t want a Facebook page that consisted of my team telling students what’s great about Deloitte NZ. I wanted our Facebook page to communicate who we are as people and to give students a taste of the unique culture of Deloitte New Zealand – communicate the human face of Deloitte, as Paul (Jacobs) likes to say. The theme of our page is “up close and personal with Deloitte New Zealand” and that’s exactly what is – up close and personal with Deloitte New Zealand. How else could students understand who we are?

As a student, you could look at the Big 4 firms and say ‘well, they pretty much look the same to me – what makes them different to each other?’ I think that statements fair enough – we’ve always said it’s our people and our unique culture. A business’ culture is a very difficult thing to articulate to an audience via static media. That’s the beauty of a platform like Facebook – it’s all about dialogue, engagement, community – culture!

We used Facebook primarily because I felt I understood it better, I wanted to get started and most of our student target market said it was their primary social media platform. I also like the way Facebook allowed you to interface many other platforms and applications which I felt allowed for more possibilities in terms of providing a rich user experience.

I wanted the page to subtly reflect our graduate recruitment brand (visually) for the sake of identity and consistency but I didn’t want it to appear overly engineered or corporate. If it looked to corporate or slick I felt it may put our savvy Gen Y audience off who will be pretty well tuned in to corporate pages they felt aren’t genuine, infiltrating their Facebook space!

Additionally, I wanted the content of the page to be user driven – driven by internal Deloitte users and external fans of the page. I wanted to create dialogue between the students and Deloitte people contributing to the page and also between the students themselves using our page as their communication platform. In this way we built our community. The primary thing we are always asking ourselves whenever we post or launch something new on the page is ‘will this create conversation?’ I think if the answer is no, then you really have to ask yourself if it has a place on the page. So we’re no longer just talking employer brand – we are no communicating employee brand (I stole that term from Bill Boorman – I really like it)

Just on the measurement thing, I didn’t really know how we were going to measure success when we first started. First we were looking at fan numbers – the magical 1000 fans number appeared as a target (as I write this we are sitting at 966 fans after 4 months). However as we’ve progressed I’m more inclined to think success is measured by the number of quality engagements and conversations we are having on the page. I am still figuring out how to report on this...

I believe that to get the most from social media you have to be constantly pushing new ideas, launching new applications and developing new ways to engage your fans. The old WIIFM (what’s in it for me) is a very good acronym to keep in the back of your mind when developing your social media plan and strategy (quickly!). Why would I, a young intelligent student with many companies vying for my attention decide to become a fan of your page, keep visiting and most of all – contribute my own ideas, opinions or comments? Because the content is fresh and innovative and I get something out of it I don’t get anywhere else.

Recently we hosted the first of a series of live streaming video chat sessions through Facebook by mashing Ustream (streaming video platform) and Facebook. Fans could view a panel of our Consulting team via live streaming video on Facebook, ask them questions by typing them into a comments box and the panel answered them live. Thus, the fans control the direction and the content of the show. It was very successful and we have more lined up. If you are interested, the next one is on Feb 16th at 5.30pm (NZ time) http://bit.ly/aenpPT We claimed a world first for recruitment in using this approach – it has been used by pop stars like Shakira and Mylie Cyrus (so Paul tells me, his musical tastes are different to mine I would like to point out!) but as far as we’re aware it’s a first for recruitment.

A final note – recently I’ve noticed the term Community DJ being used to describe people whose business is social media. Initially I didn’t understand this title and was suitably cynical as often those in the recruitment business can be – I think it’s healthy... However, the more I get to know social media, the more I see synergies between the title of Community DJ and working with social media.

A DJ plays their tunes to a dance-floor full of people (community). The success or failure of the night is down to the DJ’s ability to understand what’s happening on the floor and take the crowd (community) on a journey/experience. The DJ needs to understand their audience and listen to what they’re telling him/her in order to know what direction to next take their set. All the while gradually and subtly building the floor – drop the wrong tune at the wrong time and you’ve lost the floor – it’s called a groove. I think social media is all about hitting a groove and holding it there in a social sense – so Community DJ? I think it’s a pretty good description of the role really!"

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 http://www.twitter.com/dave_drury http://au.linkedin.com/in/davedrury