talibFor years now in the world of social recruiting, there’s been a litany of subjective stories, anecdotal evidence and “thought leadership” (or lack thereof) about how “one simple trick” or “silver bullet” that can be effectively, easily and universally leveraged to double or triple your online engagement, impressions and reach.
These new wives’ tales fall pretty much into one of two catch-all categories: an old trick that’s already obsolete or a new “hack” that might work once or twice over the short term before backfiring to undermine your social recruiting strategy over the long term.
The sacrifice is almost never worth it, as these silver bullets seem mostly to shoot employers in the foot and set them back in a worse position than they were before.
For example, let’s all stop pretending that people actually give a crap about things like adding a hashtag to everything you publish; a branded hashtag is much more likely to be ignored or seen with scorn than it is to ever achieve its purported goal of increasing overall awareness and visibility.I mean, the click through rates on hashtags are just terrible – maybe in 2008, back when Chris Brown and Flo Rida were topping the Billboard Top 100, The Dark Knight was dominating the box office and real estate was still as safe a bet as you could make.

Back then, Twitter had that new app smell, but it’s subsided to the point where people just generally don’t search for or click for hashtags, particularly promoted ones.

Social Recruiting Just To Get By.

Apart from maybe a few well managed, well maintained “communities” with active, engaged membership and regularly scheduled events (looking at you, #Trumunity and #HROS), throwing on the hashtag of the college you’re trying to target with your University Relations efforts, for example.

Or even worse, just adding #Jobs to the end of a tweet and hoping some qualified candidate happens to see it aren’t going to help you with anything other than looking like you still don’t get how any of this social stuff works.

talib gif

Sure, maybe back when we were all just figuring social recruiting out, hashtags might have been cool and useful, but Twitter is no longer brand new, and the proliferation of platforms using hashtags since have more or less negated the intrinsic value of a convention whose novelty has long since worn off.

There’s an inverse relationship between how easy something is to do on social and how useful it is to do.

The other issues are tricks with high short-term gains and deep long-term losses. For example, those tools that help you post your jobs to your employees’ social media pages. Asking them for permission to spam their friends is an easy way to expand your network in the same way that losing a limb is a simple and fast way to lose twenty pounds.

The longer social media has been around, the more one rule only gets more and more true: there’s an inverse relationship between how easy something is to do on social and how useful it is to do. That is, if something is easy to do, everyone’s already done it, destroying its power today.

And if there’s a short cut that no one is using, it’s because the cons outweigh the pros.

talib stupiditySocial Recruiting’s State of Grace.

So that simple trick I promised you?

Well, it’s actually not that fast, and it takes a little effort, but it is incredibly effective. The trick is:

Invest in others before you ask anything in return.

I know social recruiting works because I have seen its effectiveness. One of my staff is a soccer nut.

She gets up early on Sundays to hit the bar to watch matches at 8:00 a.m. while most of her friends sleep. She belongs to multiple soccer communities and reads lots of soccer blogs. So when one of those magazines posted a tweet about needing someone to help with their social network, it was as if her dream job had materialized before her.

She was a passive candidate, not looking on job boards for something new. She was happy enough where she was. But a community that gave her a lot of information, wisdom, entertainment, camaraderie and support asked if she could help in return.

If she wasn’t interested in the job, I’m sure she would have happily passed the job opening to a friend who would be perfect.

That’s how social recruiting works. No one logs onto Twitter or Facebook to find a job when job boards are showing all of those jobs already in an easily searchable format.

They log into social to build community. To give and to get.

Eardrum: Breaking Through the Social Recruiting Noise.

giftsBut brands almost never do that. Brands are narcissists of the worst kind: they offer little in return for your money, time, and loyalty.

Employer brands aren’t much better.

GEM Recruiting AI

Most career sites pretend to be prospect-facing, but every element is about the brand – press releases shouting why the brand is great, inauthentic pretty pictures of fake employees who always smile, and a surprising lack of depth when it comes to what the job is or why people would want to take it beyond the paycheck.

That same narcissism is obvious on social channels.

Here’s the typical feed on a recruitment social channel:

“Apply for my #job, apply for my #job, article someone else wrote, clever request to apply for my #job, self-serving press release, apply for my #job, apply for my #job, #job event nowhere near 99% of the followers, apply for my #job, Happy Mother’s Day, apply for my #job.”

Nothing about that is about the reader. It’s all about the brand.

It seems surprising, so many of you are looking for tricks to help with that mess. So what works?


Give information. Be honest. Point to good and bad reviews. Ask people questions. Ask them what info they would really like to see on your career site.

Respond to people who engage. Laugh at a joke.

Liberation: Why Quality Counts for Social Recruiting.

life talibA long time ago, I was Bucky Badger (the official mascot for the University of Wisconsin) on Twitter.

In fact, I started and ran @BuckyBadger for two years, growing it into an extremely popular and highly engaged account.

Along the way, I learned some important social secret sauce that’s still paying dividends for me even after all these years.

Posting boring news didn’t work. Asking people to attend events didn’t work.

However, when I started engaging with the audience, answering questions, and treating them less like a “market” and more like fellow fans, audience growth skyrocketed.

Social recruiting isn’t a trick. It’s a strategy to build and grow an engaged audience by being an engaged audience member.

I would watch football games at home, make jokes and comment on plays. Badgers stationed in Afghanistan asked for scores. I once helped someone reset their iPod. Was I Apple tech support? No.

But I knew the answer and jumped in to help. I asked alumni what their favorite spot in Madison was. I spent the afternoon taking pictures of what those places looked like that day, and when I got back I sent those pictures directly back to them and the group.

Social recruiting isn’t a trick. It’s not even a tactic. It’s a strategy to build and grow an engaged audience by being an engaged audience member.

It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. But that’s the only trick that works.

Read more at Meshworking from TMP Worldwide.

james_ellis_tmpAbout the Author: James Ellis is a Digital Strategist forTMP Worldwide, the world’s largest recruitment advertising agency. For more than 15 years, James has focused on connecting cutting-edge technology to marketing objectives.
As a digital strategist for TMP Worldwide, he helps some of the largest companies in America answer their most pressing digital questions.
Follow James on Twitter at @TheWarForTalent or connect with him on LinkedIn. Learn more about TMP Worldwide at www.tmp.com.

By James Ellis

James Ellis is an authority on employer branding, focusing on companies who think they have no choice but to post and pray for talent. He is the principal of Employer Brand Labs, a bestselling author, keynote speaker, practitioner, and podcaster with a wealth of experience across multiple industries for almost a decade. You can find him on LinkedIn or subscribe to his free weekly newsletter The Change Agents.