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The SET Method of Social Recruiting

Social recruiting is typically defined as an activity that occurs on social media sites. It's as if social recruiting didn't exist before Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But, of course, it did, just on different media. And, that fact points to an emerging best practice: social recruiting is most effective when it's conducted with a multimedia strategy.

As I've noted before, there's both a science and an art to social recruiting. The science involves the use of social media to identify key prospects through data mining and/or forming candidate networks. Basically, it's an exercise in using social technology to find people and addresses - specific candidates for specific openings and a viable way to connect with them.

The art of social recruiting is everything else that happens. You see, there's nothing inherently social about social media. We have to transform the media into a social experience. We have to communicate with individuals in a way they find both comfortable, interesting and ultimately persuasive.

The degree of comfort a person has with their social experience is determined by the media we select, while the perceived value of the communication and its impact on their decision-making depend upon the information that's provided and the way it's delivered.

A Surprising Research Finding

Thanks to all of the attention directed at Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter over the past couple of years, many recruiters now believe that the selection of social media is an exercise in choosing between social media sites. It's not. The telephone and email may be considered "old fashioned media," but they remain potent communications vehicles and should not be ignored.

In fact, new recent suggests that social media may not always be the best way to reach talented prospects, including those under the age of 35.

  • A 2011 survey of 1,600 association members - the very kind of passive, high caliber talent, many recruiters want to source - found that a significant majority (89 percent) strongly preferred to be contacted by email. Only 8 percent of the respondents opted for social media.
  • Even more startling, those numbers didn't change much among respondents who were 24-34 years of age. A whopping 87 percent said they strongly preferred to be contacted by email, while just 13 percent said they were more comfortable with social media.

Does this mean we should abandon social media? Of course not. The take-away is this: there's a time and place for social media sites and a time and place for other media in our communications with prospects.

A Multimedia Social Strategy

Social recruiting is an exercise in building relationships with prospects. The key is to establish enough familiarity and trust at each of three steps in the recruiting process to ensure you hang onto their attention and stimulate their interest in your opening. I call this strategy the SET Method because it utilizes Social media sites, Email and the Telephone to socialize prospects.

  • Step 1: The Approach - You only get one chance to make a good first impression with a prospect so this message must quickly engage and intrigue a prospect. It's best communicated with social media as such messages are typically shorter than those in other media and less frequently viewed as spam. To be effective, however, they must accomplish four tasks: introduce the recruiter by name, establish his or her credibility by connecting them to a named employer or staffing firm, entice the prospect by revealing a career advancement opportunity that may be perfect for them, and set up a mechanism for providing the prospect with additional information by requesting their email address.
  • Step 2: The Ask - You only get one chance to engage a prospect, so the content of your email message must be personal and persuasive. No matter how rare and important your opening, you are subjecting the prospect to interruption marketing. Therefore, your message is not the place to repurpose a recruitment ad, but must instead use short, hard-hitting language, to accomplish another four tasks: re-introduce the recruiter and the organization they represent, emphasize the confidentiality of the interaction, trigger interest in the opening by describing "what's in it for them," and set up a mechanism for a more in-depth conversation by requesting their telephone number.
  • Step 3: The Close - You only get one chance to sell a prospect on a given opening, so your phone call must be structured to get them talking about what's important to them in their career. The conversation, therefore, isn't a hard sell or soft sell, but a tailored one. It focuses on providing the information that will maximize an opening's perceived benefit for them. How do you acquire the insight necessary to do that? By asking them. First, build a word picture of what could make the opening especially interesting and rewarding for high caliber performers (like them). Second, get their reaction by asking them what they're looking for in the next stage of their career. Then, get them excited by emphasizing those aspects of your opening that match their career goals.

There are countless books and training programs on recruiting scripts for sourcing telephone calls, but little on how best to structure and communicate in today's multimedia environment. The SET Method recognizes the value of a multimedia approach which carefully leverages the power of different media to convey just the right message in just the right way to influence even the most passive of prospects.

Thanks for reading,

Visit my blog at Weddles.com/WorkStrong.

May 2012
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