A Talent Strategy Conversation with Susan Burns – Part 2 1 Comment

Part one of my conversation with Susan Burns focused on opportunities and trends within talent management.  Part 2, posted here focuses on social media and social networking, metrics, and the candidate experience from a recruiting perspective.

There continues to be an emphasis and talk about the use of social media and social networking in recruitment. Keeping in mind some are leading the way, while others are skeptical, what advice do you have for those that are taking the wait-and-see approach?


As you know I’m an advocate of social media and quite passionate about the use of it for talent attraction and engagement. In a way it’s good that some recruitment leaders are still skeptical. There are several aspects of social media that should be thoroughly considered before moving forward with a visible online network presence. Diving into social media too quickly can cause a lot of harm to a brand. Recruiting leaders can benefit by taking the time to not only understand the nuances of social media but, more importantly, frame what it means for their brand –

  • What are they trying to accomplish?
  • What does it take to build, nurture and engage an active community, or communities?
  • How will the recruitment function manage active communities to keep content fresh and interact with talent?
  • Which communities are a fit for the brand and the type of talent they want to attract?
  • How will the social media presence integrate with the employment brand strategy?

This is just a sampling of the questions that should be considered and explored before moving forward with a social media strategy. Taking the time to observe communities, talk to people, and play in the environment will help recruiters get a feel for what works and what doesn’t before exposing the brand. Too often I see recruiters entering social media environments and immediately pushing job listings out before taking the time to build social equity. It’s easy to get caught up in the growing wave of hype but it’s more important to take the time and shape a strategic vision and implementation plan. If you’d like to read more on this topic here’s a link to an article I posted earlier in the year.

Another topic that continues to receive a lot of press in human resources – and recruiting is metrics. How do you advise leaders on building a case for ROI in the talent space?

Susan:Starting from a point of alignment with core business strategies is a good place to begin so recruiting strategies and results are linked to the business. Measuring what’s important to the business, identifying data that is accessible and consistently available, and sharing the information on a regular basis will help the recruiting function further its credibility. If you’re measuring something that doesn’t add value by supporting the business objectives its simply additional noise in a crowded space – and potentially dilutes the value of the total story your trying to tell. For example, if you’re in a billable business environment time-to-fill is a very important metric because you can use the data to tell a story from various perspectives. By taking the number of days-to-fill times the average billing revenue the data can tell a compelling story and support building a case for change – like establishing an opportunity cost of talent. Maybe your trying to get additional resources or build a case for a new recruitment structure, whatever the objective you can use the data to tell a compelling story. By measuring data that’s important to the business it’s easier to get attention because your focusing on value-added actions.

Making sure the desired data is accessible and it can be collected on a consistent basis will ensure that progress can be measured and shared. Think about how you want to tell the initial story but also how you want to build on that story by communicating progress to further engage stakeholders, which builds personal and functional equity.

From a candidates point of view, the “black hole” of HR / Recruiting still exists, even though the candidate experience is important for recruiters. What are your thoughts on the gaps that exist today?

Susan:I think this is a very important issue for recruiting functions to address. There are generally a couple of persistent reasons for the “black hole” and gaps between what’s wanted and what actually happens. It usually stems from the talent philosophy, recruiting process, or recruiting technology. It’s easy to say that a good candidate experience is important but what does that actually mean? What does it look like for the candidate? What type of behavior and actions need to be embraced by the recruiting function for the statement to be more than a statement? Taking a look at the company’s talent philosophy is the first place to begin. What does the company value and what is manageable? While I was with Federated Department Stores / Macy’s Inc. we framed our strategy with a “candidate as customer” motto. We knew that there was considerable overlap between our candidate marketplace and our customer base and taking this approach helped make it clear how candidates should be treated and informed the strategy and process. It also helped to ensure that the recruitment function was linked to the business purpose and that by taking good care of our candidates we were adding value to the company’s primary business purpose. Each company can establish a baseline to their desired candidate experience and build from there to further differentiate the brand.

Technology plays a big role as well. If the technology doesn’t support the objectives, is too complex, or isn’t aligned with the process then the strategy can’t be executed. The ATS or candidate management technology must make it easy for recruiters to communicate to applicants individually and in bulk, and many don’t. If recruiters have good technology and have bought into the strategy then the problems of the black hole should diminish over time.

One additional note on the “black hole” challenge. Third-party recruiters face the same challenge and too often take a “stalk and abandon” approach when working a search. They should be expected to deliver the same candidate experience when representing the company’s brand to ensure a positive experience.

Closing thoughts?

We’re currently in a time of tremendous uncertainty, change and transformation. While this can be unsettling its also an incredible learning opportunity. Where do you have opportunities to reflect, renew and reinvent or reinvigorate your strategy?

Connect with Susan:

Don’t forget you can chat with Susan each week on Talent Talk Cafe – on RecruitingBlogs.com. Just click on the cup for details!

About Jason Buss

Talent HQ’s creator and editor is Recruiting & Diversity Leader, Jason Buss. Talent HQ is a premier online news and information channel for the Recruiting and Human Resources community.

Tags: , , , , , ,

  • Posted on: Friday, November 14th, 2008