Social Recruiting Case Studies from Smart, the Social Media for Business Conference 2011

24 Jan

Social Recruiting

Smart, the Social Media for Business Conference held in London on the 20th of January provided a number of interesting presentations and workshops covering social recruiting.  One of the earliest of the day was delivered by Steven Fogarty – Snr Manager Strategic Programs at Adidas Group (also known as the ‘Recruiting Captain’).

Social Recruiting adidas VONQWe all know the brand adidas, a global leader in the sporting goods industry – it employs 40,000 employees across North America, Latin America, EMEA and Asia Pacific and has approximately 16 in-house recruiters.  They have an innovative, multifaceted recruitment strategy based around 4 key pillars:  E-recruiting, Metrics, Sourcing (which encompasses all tools and training) & Brand.  The candidate experience is at the centre of everything and they are very clear and focused when it comes to their EVP, summed up by the slogan “Shape the future of sport”

On top of the 4 pillars their recruitment strategy has a number of layers:

1)      Attracting top talent by delivering authentic, targeted dialogue across the web

2)      Reaching passive candidates

3)      Increasing authentic dialogue within talent networks

4)      Integrating all the above smartly

To achieve the above they combine the use of some traditional forms of recruitment marketing such as job boards, with SEO & SEM techniques, deep mining of networks such as LinkedIn (Steve refers to this kind of deep mining as ‘6 degrees’), and community building.  Their jobs are widely distributed across other social platforms such as twitter (via twitjobsearch).

Twitjobsearch twitter recruitment vonq

adidas jobs on twitter

LinkedIn Recruitment adidas

adidas LinkedIn groups

The community aspect was a really interesting case which highlighted both the innovative use of social media, but also some of the pitfalls.  Adidas managed to create a very successful (albeit short-lived) adidas branded NING network (NING is an application that lets you easily build your own social network), the idea being to build a community of engaged followers of the adidas brand.  It grew to approximately 5000 members within weeks! Unfortunately being such an open platform/application it did not have the sufficient safeguards to protect company risk and reputation.  An example Steve used to reflect this would be what if a member uploaded their own trainer design, who would own the rights?  These are some of the more complex questions surrounding the use of social media for recruitment that are not immediately obvious.  So despite its popularity the network had to be taken off line.

Adidas have built a number of other networks however, especially within LinkedIn, where they have several alumni, careers and geographically focused groups that have over 3500 members between them.

Social Recruiting CH2M Hill

The afternoon session at Smart kicked off with David Mason, International Talent Acquisition Director for CH2M Hill, who provided a workshop on the Global race to find talent.  CH2M Hill is a full service design, consulting and construction company.  Some of their current projects include expanding the Panama canal and significant involvement in the design and construction of the Masdar ‘Green City’ in the UAE.

CH2M Hill have approximately 23,000 employees worldwide and around 70 internal recruiters.  98% of hires in the US are directly sourced, and approximately 95% of all hires outside of the US are also the result of direct recruitment activities. Impressive stuff!  And in case you wondering, it took a sustained strategic effort spanning around 4 years to get the volume of direct hires to such a high proportion.

David broke their strategy down into 3 groups:

1)      Ways to harness social media to attract candidates

2)      Targeting candidates effectively

3)      Using social media to attract new geographical audiences

CH2M Hill operates across a number of social platforms including the usual suspects, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  One of the primary reasons CH2M Hill begun to explore social recruiting was due to the high numbers of unsuitable candidates entering their ATS system.  Although they find some job boards useful, when advertising on job boards in the Middle East, the nature of the market means their ads were generating literally thousands of applications.  They needed to change their strategy to be much more targeted, less volume, more quality.

David pointed out that Facebook & twitter have not been particularly successful for them as a direct recruiting tool.  They have however, had significant success with LinkedIn.  It has both helped to reduce their cost per hire and time to hire.  The following is an example David himself provided.

LinkedIn Recruitment CH2M Hill

CH2M Hill customised LinkedIn profile

Using the LinkedIn Corporate recruiter license CH2M Hill have visibility of every profile within LinkedIn.  On one particular occasion they needed to hire a HR Manager in Korea with knowledge of the industry and experience working for western European companies.  Within 30 minutes they were able to identify 100 LinkedIn profiles relating to HR managers in Korea.  They were able to filter these down to 10 with relevant industry industry experience, and eventually made the hire they needed in 2 weeks.

VONQ Recruiting with LinkedIn CH2M HillOne of the reasons CH2M Hill believe they have had so much success with LinkedIn compared to the other social networks  is due to the demographic of the user base that’s in tune with the current type of professionals they target.  However they also employ a number of other tactics to help convert applicants within LinkedIn.   They have a fully customised company profile page that not only displays current jobs, but also information of various career paths, current projects they are delivering, video content and featured jobs.   They also have a widget integrated with their careers site that allows searching of their ATS for jobs within LinkedIn.

Another feature of CH2M Hills recruitment strategy, and one that is often overlooked by employers is to have bespoke landing pages on your careers site for each category of role.  This helps to maximise the candidate experience and ensure they can easily find all the information they need, and apply for relevant jobs quickly.

LinkedIn Recruiting customised landing pages VONQ

Examples of CH2M Hill customised landing pages

LinkedIn Reruiting Bespoke Landing Pages VONQ

That’s my take on a couple of the day’s social recruiting case studies.  Two very different companies who apply their social recruiting tactics in slightly different ways but with the same result, an increase in the proportion of direct hires.

By Jean-Paul Smalls of VONQ UK

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