I’m going to be leading a track at #truLeeds next Thursday entitled “cost of engagement.” I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently in the work I have been doing with recruiting teams.This is really a follow on to the post #SocialRecruiting: It’s not for recruiters, that created plenty of reaction.

The big difficulty for recruiters is finding the time needed to engage, answer questions, and be involved in what is being said outside of the obvious “I want a job.”  Recruiters are under serious time pressure to deliver candidates for interview now. Though the desire may be there to build talent pools, respond to candidates who are not clearly a fit for current jobs or to get active in social channels for employer branding, time pressure makes it almost impossible to take a long term view.

My thinking on this is to not pressure recruiters to be social, better to develop their skills in sourcing social channels and the approach needed to manage social applications and convert fans, followers and connections in to candidates.

When i ran recruiting teams directly in the pre-internet days, I was always frustrated when we advertised jobs and didn’t have a plan as to who would answer the phones when the phone rang. Jumping forward to today, the situation is much the same. An unanswered question on a fan page, a tweet that goes unresponded or an enquiry unacknowledged is exactly the same as the unanswered phone. If there is no time or focus on engaging, it’s better to stay out of the social channels, or make plans to filter content to recruiters and look to appoint staff with direct responsibility (and time) for engagement.

What I have been finding is that when active recruiting campaigns are running via social channels, most of the questions and dialogue is not about the jobs, (most of that info is already available from multiple sources already), as well as speculative enquiries from people wanting to engage and investigate opportunities with the brand rather than apply for specific jobs.

Having an engagement team takes an investment in time and money, but solves the problem and enables a proactive approach to engagement between the company and possible hires, while increasing exposure of the employer brand. this also means you can have someone available for ad-hoc chat and calls, as well as making sure the essential referrals are handled efficiently, with the right level attention and feedback.

The day after #truDublin I was fortunate enough to spend a day with Sodexo USA V.P. for talent attraction, Arie Ball. One of the points we talked about was how Sodexo manage their budget. Inevitably, adopting a social approach to recruiting leads to some serious cost savings in areas like agency fees and job board advertising. The savings are redirected in to other areas of recruiting, like hiring more recruiters or investing in building talent communities for the future. It’s not about reducing the spend, more about finding more efficient ways to use the money. I see an engagement team, part of the recruiting team without hiring responsibility being a great example of how savings can be redirected in to longer term thinking, while shorter term hiring targets are met by the recruiters.

At the recent International Recruitment Conference that I spoke at in London, Quezia Soares, who has recruitment marketing responsibility for Accenture in EMEA gave an excellent presentation on her strategy, part of which looked at the talent pipeline, and how Accenture were not expecting to see any significant return from their talent pool for at least 3 years! Thats a big investment in time, resource and money, but one which promises great long term benefits both in terms of cost and quality of hire.

The approach to redistribute spend from current need to future investment makes a lot of sense, and an engagement team is a great investment in the mid to long term, freeing recruiters to concentrate on hiring. The key to this approach is to look at were the savings can be made now, advertising and sourcing being the obvious place. Invest in recruiter training in sourcing and converting potential candidates for themselves rather than relying on a post and pray approach. The savings coming from reduced ad spend can be invested in building the engagement team and n tools that enhance the process.

I will be discussing this approach in more detail at #truleeds on Thursday and Friday this week. There’s still a few tickets available to take part.

What do you see as the cost of engagement?



Arie Ball

Quezia Soares

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