Recruiting, Unconferences and Social Media

by The Red Recruiter on July 27, 2009

BarCamp - With Gretchen and ChrisaThis past week, I had the great privilege of visiting with a large group of recruiters in Southern California for the inaugural BarCamp Recruit event in Newport Beach, CA.

Gretchen Benes and Chrisa Mott conceived of the event after attending something similar for the Real Estate industry.  In summary, it was an unconference for recruiters that had a pretty intense focus on the use of social media.  Topics ranged from SEO to Twitter Best-Practices.  For the participants, it was a jam-packed day of valuable information!

Gretchen and Chrisa threw an excellent event!  Keep your eyes open for a BarCamp Recruit close to you… it’s coming!

The more I travel the country and meet recruiters, the more I enjoy teaching about how social media is becoming a force in the area of recruitment and HR.  Perhaps it’s because the more time that passes, the more the topic becomes relevant.  iStrategyLabs just reported last week that Facebook is trending to pass Google in unique visits per month by September… do you know what this means for the recruitment industry?  Are you planning to embrace this change?

During the training at BarCamp Recruit, I said to the group that any recruiter who does not familiarize themselves with social media over the course of the next two years will be a dinosaur.  I meant it.  In fact, in retrospect, I should have said “over the course of the next year” – it would have made more sense.

No one can deny that this little phenomenon that we refer to as social media is growing.  I just wonder if people realize how fast it’s growing.  And, it’s not just about Facebook.  Think about how many people are adopting Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging… just to name a few routes for social interaction online.  Are you improving your recruiting game as it applies to these tools?  How?

So, what does this all mean and how can a recruiter start to make sense of this online frenzy?

Here are a few suggestions…

Getting Started In Social Media

  1. Decide on an available user ID – This should help… http://www.usernamecheck.com
  2. Register your accounts (at least Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr)
  3. Put together a short and interesting bio that you can use across multiple sites… be consistent.
  4. Go have 50 pictures taken of yourself and pick one that you like… make sure your face is central.
  5. Edit your pictures in http://picnik.com – Great for cropping pictures to the necessary size for social media.
  6. Start being curious… poke around, read what people say and how they interact online.
  7. Read a few blogs that have to do with social media from general and recruiting specific perspectives… here are some:
  • Chris Brogan – Lots of valuable information on approach, strategy and processes
  • Mashable – Lots of nitty-gritty on the tools (good for if you’d like to be “in the know”)
  • Boolean Black Belt – Constant exploration of sourcing topics… very valuable information
  • (Feel free to drop your suggestions in the comments… there are many great sources, but I’m blanking at the moment.)

Social media should not consume your life.  Perhaps it’s our natural curiosity – we love knowing what’s going on.  When we get that first sweet taste of being informed all the time… it can be a bit intoxicating.  You’ll ultimately do whatever you’d like… just remember that it’s important to balance the online with the off.  Spend time away from the computer and develop a fresh perspective.  It will make you that much more interesting when you return to exchange thoughts with your online friends.

Do Something About Social Media

No one is expecting that you are going to wake up tomorrow and be a super-savvy social media user.  However, you are going to be expected, over the next year (or more), to have a grasp on this topic.  If you are banking on it being a fad… wake up!  It may change and evolve, but it’s not going away.  Getting familiar with how things work will only benefit you and your career.

What did I leave out?  What would you suggest for an HR pro or Recruiter who is just starting out?

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  • http://www.recruitingblogs.com/ Jason Davis

    You left out a lot. I don’t know where to begin. I am going to suggest to the Recruiting Animal that we discuss this on one of his shows. This is not about cashing in and you make it sound like it is and there will be no dinosaurs who choose to leave this all on the table.

    Respect.
    @callmeslouch

  • http://www.recruitingblogs.com Jason Davis

    You left out a lot. I don’t know where to begin. I am going to suggest to the Recruiting Animal that we discuss this on one of his shows. This is not about cashing in and you make it sound like it is and there will be no dinosaurs who choose to leave this all on the table.

    Respect.
    @callmeslouch

  • http://theredrecruiter.com/ The Red Recruiter

    Yes… I did. To cover the entire realm of social media as it applies to recruiting would take much more than 700 words. For instance, your site should be on the above list. http://recruitingblogs.com – a great addition to the arsenal. As for me making it out to be about “cashing in” – yes and no. Social media is about both providing value (often times without charging) and also developing/executing around a business strategy. To ignore the balance would be counter to any sustainable business model. Would you not agree?

    So… I’d love to hear/see what you recommend.

    Looking forward,
    Michael

  • http://theredrecruiter.com The Red Recruiter

    Yes… I did. To cover the entire realm of social media as it applies to recruiting would take much more than 700 words. For instance, your site should be on the above list. http://recruitingblogs.com – a great addition to the arsenal. As for me making it out to be about “cashing in” – yes and no. Social media is about both providing value (often times without charging) and also developing/executing around a business strategy. To ignore the balance would be counter to any sustainable business model. Would you not agree?

    So… I’d love to hear/see what you recommend.

    Looking forward,
    Michael

  • http://www.sanerapdc.com/ Alicia Arenas (@AliciaSanera)

    Social media for businesses IS about “cashing in” in the sense that businesses need to expand their networks and develop strong relationships with their customer base to survive and flourish. I think anyone in business understands this.

    The method you use to do that is what reveals your character. Do you genuinely desire to build relationships and give value to your community? Or does someone pretend to care about customers in order to score a sale? I don’t see anything in Michael’s post to suggest the latter.

    The bottom line for me is this: learn the tools and how they will help your business. That is the core message I got from Michael’s post. Ask intelligent questions about time commitments and technology. Then make an informed decision about your level of engagement in social media. But don’t wait too long to engage or you will be left behind.

  • http://www.sanerapdc.com Alicia Arenas (@AliciaSanera)

    Social media for businesses IS about “cashing in” in the sense that businesses need to expand their networks and develop strong relationships with their customer base to survive and flourish. I think anyone in business understands this.

    The method you use to do that is what reveals your character. Do you genuinely desire to build relationships and give value to your community? Or does someone pretend to care about customers in order to score a sale? I don’t see anything in Michael’s post to suggest the latter.

    The bottom line for me is this: learn the tools and how they will help your business. That is the core message I got from Michael’s post. Ask intelligent questions about time commitments and technology. Then make an informed decision about your level of engagement in social media. But don’t wait too long to engage or you will be left behind.

  • DINA (@_DINA)

    Excellent post, Michael! I agree with Alicia’s comments completely. Keep up the great work! ~Dina

  • DINA (@_DINA)

    Excellent post, Michael! I agree with Alicia’s comments completely. Keep up the great work! ~Dina

  • http://www.recruitinganimal.com RecruitingANIMAL

    Red, you’re going to hate me but you’re making yourself look bad.

    1. What about ERE? How come that isn’t on a list. How could that escape your mind?

    Also, real 3rd party recruiters aren’t making their money from social media. Do a survey. They are on the phone.

    Linkedin is a resume bank. When Facebook has a better ID function for business qualifications it will become a resume database too. Same with the other soc nets. In the meantime, they are not essentials.

    And yes I know about building a talent pool online. Makes sense but only certain job categories are active online. That’s easily proved.

    Any time you want to come on The Recruiting Animal Show and argue your point I can put together a team of people who will back you. And a team who will take the opposite pov.

    Regards from me.

  • http://www.recruitinganimal.com Recruiting Animal

    Red, you’re going to hate me but you’re making yourself look bad.

    1. What about ERE? How come that isn’t on a list. How could that escape your mind?

    Also, real 3rd party recruiters aren’t making their money from social media. Do a survey. They are on the phone.

    Linkedin is a resume bank. When Facebook has a better ID function for business qualifications it will become a resume database too. Same with the other soc nets. In the meantime, they are not essentials.

    And yes I know about building a talent pool online. Makes sense but only certain job categories are active online. That’s easily proved.

    Any time you want to come on The Recruiting Animal Show and argue your point I can put together a team of people who will back you. And a team who will take the opposite pov.

    Regards from me.

  • http://theredrecruiter.com/ The Red Recruiter

    @_Dina – Thank you 😉

    @Animal – You’re right about ERE (http://ere.net)… it’s a great source of information. There are many avenues for learning about this topic online. An attempt to chronicle them all would be a multiple blog post effort in itself. Has anyone ever done that? Regarding the “real” 3rd party recruiters not making money from the use of social media… I would be interested in your definition of “real.” Are you talking about the Pinnacle Society members? Also, LinkedIn is not just a resume bank… that’s ridiculous. I know that people who only approach the market by sourcing look at everything as a sourcing tool, but that would be to ignore the opportunity to interact via the use of groups, conversation lines and one-to-one communication tools. If someone simply wants to source from LinkedIn, http://referyes.com seems like a good tool lately (click on ReferYes Sourcer on the bottom right). It automatically constructs the Boolean search strings… pretty cool. As for only certain talent pools being online… I would agree that some groups seem more active than others. However, it would be hard to limit the people who search on Google to any particular group. If the content exists and they’re searching for something relevant to their career, they are pretty likely to find it. The other side of that link could be any number of web pages or online communities… a blog, an online forum, a Twitter comment. Thank you for the invite to your show. Hopefully we can do that in the near future. Also, thanks for participating… this is a discussion that will require all angles of thought.

  • http://theredrecruiter.com The Red Recruiter

    @_Dina – Thank you 😉

    @Animal – You’re right about ERE (http://ere.net)… it’s a great source of information. There are many avenues for learning about this topic online. An attempt to chronicle them all would be a multiple blog post effort in itself. Has anyone ever done that? Regarding the “real” 3rd party recruiters not making money from the use of social media… I would be interested in your definition of “real.” Are you talking about the Pinnacle Society members? Also, LinkedIn is not just a resume bank… that’s ridiculous. I know that people who only approach the market by sourcing look at everything as a sourcing tool, but that would be to ignore the opportunity to interact via the use of groups, conversation lines and one-to-one communication tools. If someone simply wants to source from LinkedIn, http://referyes.com seems like a good tool lately (click on ReferYes Sourcer on the bottom right). It automatically constructs the Boolean search strings… pretty cool. As for only certain talent pools being online… I would agree that some groups seem more active than others. However, it would be hard to limit the people who search on Google to any particular group. If the content exists and they’re searching for something relevant to their career, they are pretty likely to find it. The other side of that link could be any number of web pages or online communities… a blog, an online forum, a Twitter comment. Thank you for the invite to your show. Hopefully we can do that in the near future. Also, thanks for participating… this is a discussion that will require all angles of thought.

  • http://www.ere.net/ Todd Raphael

    I’ll throw one thing out there that you omitted, though I’m not suggesting that the list is then complete. And that one thing is social media extensions of communities that existed offline before the Internet. Online college alumni networks, for example, are important, and existed offline, of course, prior to the Internet. Alumni of certain companies too — those groups existed offline prior to the Internet, and have moved online. Niche communities by interest, and profession, too.
    In my view, the strongest survivors in the social media world won’t be the URLs that are merely social-media destinations, but rather the places where people have something substantial in common.

  • http://www.ere.net Todd Raphael

    I’ll throw one thing out there that you omitted, though I’m not suggesting that the list is then complete. And that one thing is social media extensions of communities that existed offline before the Internet. Online college alumni networks, for example, are important, and existed offline, of course, prior to the Internet. Alumni of certain companies too — those groups existed offline prior to the Internet, and have moved online. Niche communities by interest, and profession, too.
    In my view, the strongest survivors in the social media world won’t be the URLs that are merely social-media destinations, but rather the places where people have something substantial in common.

  • Gretchen Benes

    Michael – great post! Alicia makes some really good points as well.

    Animal – your POV seems to me to be a little narrow. Yes, only “certain” people are on-line but those people know people, etc. That would be like saying I’m only going to go to a party if certain people are there. That is why we “socialize” and ask questions and get to know people on a real level, because you never know who they know or what they know.

    A good recruiter (corporate or 3rd party) has an arsenal of tools to do their job (telephone, e-mail, SM, blogs, etc.) but most important on that list is listening. The rest is just a way to execute what you have learned from the conversation.

    Also, just curious where do I find a “fake” 3rd party recruiter??

  • Gretchen Benes

    Michael – great post! Alicia makes some really good points as well.

    Animal – your POV seems to me to be a little narrow. Yes, only “certain” people are on-line but those people know people, etc. That would be like saying I’m only going to go to a party if certain people are there. That is why we “socialize” and ask questions and get to know people on a real level, because you never know who they know or what they know.

    A good recruiter (corporate or 3rd party) has an arsenal of tools to do their job (telephone, e-mail, SM, blogs, etc.) but most important on that list is listening. The rest is just a way to execute what you have learned from the conversation.

    Also, just curious where do I find a “fake” 3rd party recruiter??

  • http://theredrecruiter.com/ The Red Recruiter

    Todd – Excellent point! The community creates itself.

  • http://theredrecruiter.com The Red Recruiter

    Todd – Excellent point! The community creates itself.

  • http://theredrecruiter.com/ The Red Recruiter

    Gretchen – I like the idea that social media helps complete the tool set for a recruiter. Sounds like a good post 😉

  • http://theredrecruiter.com The Red Recruiter

    Gretchen – I like the idea that social media helps complete the tool set for a recruiter. Sounds like a good post 😉

  • http://www.radiantveracity.com/ Stephanie A. Lloyd

    Wow. Interesting post and a lot of fascinating comments contributing to a conversation that appears to be front and center just about everywhere I go these days!

    While I most definitely agree that Michael did not cover everything there is to cover regarding social media and recruiting, I don’t see anywhere in his post that he even remotely claims that this was intended as a single, comprehensive, all-encompassing article on this vast and fast-changing subject/phenomenon/trend/.

    That aside; Animal made a point that I can’t help but comment on.

    “Also, real 3rd party recruiters aren’t making their money from social media. Do a survey. They are on the phone.”

    While I would omit the word “real” from this statement and replace it with “many” or “successful” or “lucrative” if I were making this statement myself; I could not agree more with Animal’s actual point.

    I’ve been very, very active on LinkedIn/Twitter/other social media platforms for years now – as a recruiter, business developer, and entrepreneur – and in my experience it’s only when I speak with someone on the phone and/or meet them in person that these relationships I cultivate via social media truly come alive!

    That is when things *actually* begin to happen. I could provide you with example after example but this is not my blog so I won’t hijack Michael’s comments section but rather save this for a blog post of my own at some point. :-)

    I believe that the true value of these social media is the opportunity to find and connect with people you may not have otherwise ever even heard of or had the opportunity to get to know. Social media allows us a fantastic opportunity to develop “warm” contacts, which in turn makes our chances of – A. having our phone calls warmly received/messages returned, and B. developing meaningful and productive relationships with these people – that much better. And who wouldn’t want that??

    Do I believe that people who choose to shun social media are making a mistake?

    Yes, I do.

    Do I believe that the vast majority of professionals in many industries as applicable/appropriate will grab on to one degree or another in the [near] future?

    Yes, I do.

    Call me crazy but I recall quite vividly from my early-to-mid twenties (in the Stone Ages…you know, the 90’s) when there was initially such a resistance to email and the internet once they went “mainstream”…and in hindsight those same naysayers/resistors dove in and never looked back within just months if not a year or two at the very outset!

    Nice conversation starter, Michael…and I look forward to the continued discussion!

    Stephanie

  • http://www.radiantveracity.com Stephanie A. Lloyd

    Wow. Interesting post and a lot of fascinating comments contributing to a conversation that appears to be front and center just about everywhere I go these days!

    While I most definitely agree that Michael did not cover everything there is to cover regarding social media and recruiting, I don’t see anywhere in his post that he even remotely claims that this was intended as a single, comprehensive, all-encompassing article on this vast and fast-changing subject/phenomenon/trend/.

    That aside; Animal made a point that I can’t help but comment on.

    “Also, real 3rd party recruiters aren’t making their money from social media. Do a survey. They are on the phone.”

    While I would omit the word “real” from this statement and replace it with “many” or “successful” or “lucrative” if I were making this statement myself; I could not agree more with Animal’s actual point.

    I’ve been very, very active on LinkedIn/Twitter/other social media platforms for years now – as a recruiter, business developer, and entrepreneur – and in my experience it’s only when I speak with someone on the phone and/or meet them in person that these relationships I cultivate via social media truly come alive!

    That is when things *actually* begin to happen. I could provide you with example after example but this is not my blog so I won’t hijack Michael’s comments section but rather save this for a blog post of my own at some point. :-)

    I believe that the true value of these social media is the opportunity to find and connect with people you may not have otherwise ever even heard of or had the opportunity to get to know. Social media allows us a fantastic opportunity to develop “warm” contacts, which in turn makes our chances of – A. having our phone calls warmly received/messages returned, and B. developing meaningful and productive relationships with these people – that much better. And who wouldn’t want that??

    Do I believe that people who choose to shun social media are making a mistake?

    Yes, I do.

    Do I believe that the vast majority of professionals in many industries as applicable/appropriate will grab on to one degree or another in the [near] future?

    Yes, I do.

    Call me crazy but I recall quite vividly from my early-to-mid twenties (in the Stone Ages…you know, the 90’s) when there was initially such a resistance to email and the internet once they went “mainstream”…and in hindsight those same naysayers/resistors dove in and never looked back within just months if not a year or two at the very outset!

    Nice conversation starter, Michael…and I look forward to the continued discussion!

    Stephanie

  • http://theredrecruiter.com/ The Red Recruiter

    @Stephanie – Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

    I’m sensing that a line is being drawn in the sand between traditional recruiting and social media. To your excellent point… they should never be separate – they compliment each other so well! You have seen how I organize Twitter (for instance) and it’s all based around the development of relationships. Tier 1, 2 and 3.

    The conversation after this post has led to more than a few ideas for future topics.

    Thank you again for commenting!

  • http://theredrecruiter.com The Red Recruiter

    @Stephanie – Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

    I’m sensing that a line is being drawn in the sand between traditional recruiting and social media. To your excellent point… they should never be separate – they compliment each other so well! You have seen how I organize Twitter (for instance) and it’s all based around the development of relationships. Tier 1, 2 and 3.

    The conversation after this post has led to more than a few ideas for future topics.

    Thank you again for commenting!

  • http://www.recruitingblogs.ning.com/ Jason Davis

    I just want to know if you really believe this to be true.

    “During the training at BarCamp Recruit, I said to the group that any recruiter who does not familiarize themselves with social media over the course of the next two years will be a dinosaur. I meant it. In fact, in retrospect, I should have said “over the course of the next year” – it would have made more sense.”

    Thanks

  • http://www.recruitingblogs.ning.com Jason Davis

    I just want to know if you really believe this to be true.

    “During the training at BarCamp Recruit, I said to the group that any recruiter who does not familiarize themselves with social media over the course of the next two years will be a dinosaur. I meant it. In fact, in retrospect, I should have said “over the course of the next year” – it would have made more sense.”

    Thanks

  • http://theredrecruiter.com/ The Red Recruiter

    Jason,

    That seems like a loaded comment. But, that’s okay, I would like to hear your POV. The only change that I would consider in the above comment would be “any”. There is a small section of recruiters who are very established and probably do not need additional tools to continue on with their successful practices. Assuming that they have the skills and are willing to age with their client and candidate groups, I could see this working. For the rest of the recruiting world, I do see social media as an important area to “familiarize” themselves with. Speaking from the perspective of someone who would hire a recruiter for my firm, I would be very hesitant if they weren’t at least familiar with some of the basic tools. Based on the trending analysis done by iStrategyLabs, the demographics and unique visit volumes continue to go up. Assuming that Facebook passes Google in September, as the trends indicate, knowledge of the realm is moving very quickly from a “nice to have” to a “must have.”

    There are surely angles that I haven’t considered… but, again, that’s one of the great things about online communication and dialogue. We all get the chance to consider these various angles on an issue and discuss them.

    This post was written to start a dialogue. I hope that we can continue to have one.

    Looking forward,
    Michael

  • http://theredrecruiter.com The Red Recruiter

    Jason,

    That seems like a loaded comment. But, that’s okay, I would like to hear your POV. The only change that I would consider in the above comment would be “any”. There is a small section of recruiters who are very established and probably do not need additional tools to continue on with their successful practices. Assuming that they have the skills and are willing to age with their client and candidate groups, I could see this working. For the rest of the recruiting world, I do see social media as an important area to “familiarize” themselves with. Speaking from the perspective of someone who would hire a recruiter for my firm, I would be very hesitant if they weren’t at least familiar with some of the basic tools. Based on the trending analysis done by iStrategyLabs, the demographics and unique visit volumes continue to go up. Assuming that Facebook passes Google in September, as the trends indicate, knowledge of the realm is moving very quickly from a “nice to have” to a “must have.”

    There are surely angles that I haven’t considered… but, again, that’s one of the great things about online communication and dialogue. We all get the chance to consider these various angles on an issue and discuss them.

    This post was written to start a dialogue. I hope that we can continue to have one.

    Looking forward,
    Michael

  • Jason Davis

    Michael,
    The problem I see is that there is so much talk online about the need for recruiters to become experts in social media. It’s just not true. You must see it, follow these top 150 top recruiters on twitter or you need to lay this talent trap or that talent trap and then by the end of it, that poor recruiter is the one caught in the trap. It’s hard to feel good about accomplishments daily as a recruiter because placements don’t happen every day. Social networking make it easy to feel good about the impact you have on people because it’s often instant, it’s often positive and you get to see your trail of popularity. When you mentioned Pinnacle Society, it made me think that when you go to the pinnacle society get togethers, the thing you hear a lot is what were your billings last year. It is a real measure of success and I know the recruiting industry is made up of more than just third party recruiters but this business is still about getting people hired and the identification of candidates with the skills to do the job has nothing whatsoever to do with them actually taking the job. Social networking makes it easy to identify people with the right skills but then part of being nice on line is about getting back to people and this poses a whole new set of time wasting issues.

  • Jason Davis

    Michael,
    The problem I see is that there is so much talk online about the need for recruiters to become experts in social media. It’s just not true. You must see it, follow these top 150 top recruiters on twitter or you need to lay this talent trap or that talent trap and then by the end of it, that poor recruiter is the one caught in the trap. It’s hard to feel good about accomplishments daily as a recruiter because placements don’t happen every day. Social networking make it easy to feel good about the impact you have on people because it’s often instant, it’s often positive and you get to see your trail of popularity. When you mentioned Pinnacle Society, it made me think that when you go to the pinnacle society get togethers, the thing you hear a lot is what were your billings last year. It is a real measure of success and I know the recruiting industry is made up of more than just third party recruiters but this business is still about getting people hired and the identification of candidates with the skills to do the job has nothing whatsoever to do with them actually taking the job. Social networking makes it easy to identify people with the right skills but then part of being nice on line is about getting back to people and this poses a whole new set of time wasting issues.

  • http://theredrecruiter.com/ The Red Recruiter

    Jason – I think that we are on the same page. In fact, whenever I train recruiters on the topic of social media usage, it’s heavily focused on what they can do to be a part of the conversation without wasting their entire day doing it. As with everything, we should find some balance. This philosophy, in my mind, would apply to almost any person getting involved with social media… especially if they have a business (even in part) behind their efforts. Thanks for sharing Jason.

  • http://theredrecruiter.com The Red Recruiter

    Jason – I think that we are on the same page. In fact, whenever I train recruiters on the topic of social media usage, it’s heavily focused on what they can do to be a part of the conversation without wasting their entire day doing it. As with everything, we should find some balance. This philosophy, in my mind, would apply to almost any person getting involved with social media… especially if they have a business (even in part) behind their efforts. Thanks for sharing Jason.

  • http://theredrecruiter.com/ The Red Recruiter

    Jason – Ahh… One other thing. Becoming an expert is not necessary… having a fundamental understanding of the tools – I think that would be helpful.

  • http://theredrecruiter.com The Red Recruiter

    Jason – Ahh… One other thing. Becoming an expert is not necessary… having a fundamental understanding of the tools – I think that would be helpful.

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