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Is Social Media Relevant To Recruiting?

I've been writing as a local recruiting blog since 2004, and in that time, the explosion of online recruitment blogs has been a wonder to behold.  It was difficult in the beginning, but as industry conference leaders like ERExpo and Kennedy Expo put us on panels, and with people like John Sumser flogging the ideas, we built a name for blogging in online employment. 

What set that early group of writers apart was our recruiting experience. Jason, Anthony, Animal, Harry, and Dennis were all practicing recruiters who saw a gap in the reporting.  We stepped in, in traditional blogging fashion, and gave our expertise to that niche.

That's the way blogging and social media work.  When an industry fails to accurately provide real-time information to its members, someone steps up and makes a name for themself.  That success led the Recruiting Blogosphere to be an early success story in social media. We were way ahead of corporate America, and ahead of PR, Marketing, Customer Service, while holding our own with IT.

But then something happened.  The community fell apart, as each of us went our separate ways and focused on our own businesses. It was inevitable, but ironically, the success of led to a devolution in the online recruiting world.  The logical next step was for the national community to splinter off into more local communities, as recruiters focused on hires they could make in their own markets.

That is happening, but it's not getting the attention it deserves.  Rob Neelbauer in D.C., and Paul DeBettignies and gang up in Minneapolis, are doing great things locally.  Jason Davis and his lead the way to Recruitfest in Toronto.   The Recruiting Roadshow is a great unconference that takes the message of social networking local.  These are worthy causes, but the majority of the online employment space isn't covering these events.

The purpose of recruiting blogging, which is to hire more people, simply isn't occurring in any meaningful way nationally.  Instead, we have a series of sites competing to be the next, or, or Fordyce Letter.  There's nothing wrong with these sites gaining traction, but they are once again leaving a niche open.  The top blogs and the top websites are now media organs, passing along information about recruiting technology, conferences, and new products. Where are the recruiters?  Where are the people using social media tools to do more HIRING? 

What's the number one complaint of recruiters who aren't in the super secret blogging cabal?

It seems like you guys are just talking to each other. Is anyone doing any real recruiting?

Now I'm not pointing out any motes in your eye.  There's a log in my own the size of, well, it's large, and there's no doubt that I dropped the recruiting mantle for two years to focus on my marketing business.  But since returning, what I see is a lot of people chasing the social media dream, but not a lot of people focused on making social media relevant to the average recruiter.  The ROI of social media should be more hires, better hires, and easier hires.

Nothing else matters to a recruiter.  Friends on Twitter, Facebook profiles, and podcasts should be tools, not destinations.  And so to close the gap, I'm working on a project that will train recruiters on specific social media tools. No fluff. No cool theories.  Just my experience in using social media to recruit.

For all of the us, the task is clear.  If we're going to talk about social media, we need to be involved in helping recruiters hire more people. It's the metric that matters most, more valuable than page views, advertising dollars, and even conference speeches.

What are you doing to help recruiters hire more people?

Hiring A Recruiter Is Tough

I'm working with a client in the Northwest looking for a senior  recruiter, and it's a difficult search.  Recruiters are easier to find than salespeople, and gauging their track record is a lot easier, as past performance for recruiters almost guarantees future performance.  The problem?  If they're good, it's very difficult to get them to move.

Good recruiters make six figures.  There's just no getting around it.  You only need 25-40 people on contract (depending on the comp plan) to make it to 100K, and once you're there, you just need to maintain that.  1 placement a week is the goal, and once you've reached that level, you'll never go back.

That 100K is a psychological mark.  Back in the 90's, it was the holy grail, announcing that you had made it.  Inflation and time have made it less valuable, but it's still an important benchmark. The problem?  What firm wants to pay 100K in a draw?  So you're left trying to get someone to take a huge pay cut, or you're left looking for luck - someone moves (no rolodex for the city), a company shuts down (economy is bad), or the best AM left because all the contractors were laid off.  And how many times does that happen?

Not to mention, the price of a recruiting hire is 25% of the base, but the base is usually much lower than the first full year comp, which means you're working at a cut rate.  As I said, it's tough.

At least you know how to screen them. They do what you do...   

Impact Of Social Media: Lecture Wednesday Morning

If you're signed up, don't forget tomorrow, Wednesday, is the lecture on social media at Washington University.

Here's the link to the google map to Whittaker Auditorium.  It's on the corner of Big Bend and Forest Park Parkway, caddy-corner from the Kayak Cafe.

Feedback is appreciated

The link is found here, and has been corrected for the background.

Structural Negotiation In Recruiting Sales

I'm reading a book on negotiation, and it covers the importance of negotiating with decision makers.  The example given is that of a car dealer, where the salesperson actually has no authority to make the decision on a deal.

If you've ever been annoyed when a car salesman leaves to go speak to the sales manager, it's helpful to remember that the salesperson isn't actually the decision maker.  The process is set up so any negotiations have to be "run up the flag pole for approval."

In the book, the correct negotiating tactic in these situations is to do an end run to the decision maker, which got me thinking about the way that recruiters tend to make an end run around Human Resources to get to the hiring manager.

Clearly, HR isn't the final decision maker on hiring a candidate. The manager is. But the manager is in a weaker negotiating position, as they need the candidate, and thus may be open to price manipulation as they value the candidate for their impact.  Human Resources in this instant is a shield put up to protect the company from high pressure tactics.  The implicit promise of company-wide business, and the threat of gaining no business (or breaking the deal) puts the company in a better overall negotiating position, as Human Resources doesn't feel the personal pressure to hire a particular candidate.

The war between outside recruiters and Human Resources is sometimes seen as unnecessary, but it's clearly a structural barrier put in place by corporations to blunt recruiting salespeople.  Going around HR is a good tactic, but a risky one, as it's flagrantly pitting internal divisions (line managers versus HR) against each other. 

The truly interesting piece is that the success rates of the strategy have little to do with the efficacy of the salesperson, and everything to do with the comparative internal position of the hiring manager versus the human resources employee.  And in a further note of irony, the more successful the strategy, the more likely that the balance of power shifts to human resources over time, as the hiring manager is always in a weaker negotiating position, and thus is open to less economic candidate choices.

Go Sign Up For

I don't often make demands of you the readers, but I was looking through, the social network for Recruiters that has seen amazing growth (11,000 members), and there are only 26 Missouri recruiters.

That's crazy - I have more Missouri readers than that.  We need to boost our numbers, and get in on a forum that gives you fantastic information, helps you connect, do your job better, get hired, win prizes.

Seriously.  Add me as a friend when you get there.  If we add 50 people from Missouri, and you friend me, I'll put your names in a hat and draw a name for a $50 gift certificate to Bristols.  If we add 50 more, and you are already a Missouri friend, I'll put your name in as well.

The Effect Of The Anheuser-Busch Merger On The St Louis Staffing Market

InBev did it.  They came in and merged with the All American brewery, amidst the beating of breasts and rending of garments from St Louis loyalists.  It's a fact of globalization, but it's a tough blow for a city that keeps losing household names to global mergers.

Do the household names matter?  St Louis has a lot more here than the Fortune 500 headquarters.  We have a stable, loyal, conservative workforce, decent housing prices and transportation, and a reasonably relaxed state and local government.

So we'll be okay, but there will be changes, and one of those changes is the local information technology staffing business.  AB-MSG is the umbrella organization for all of the IT at AB.  They started swallowing up smaller divisions like the brewery, the theme parks, packaging several years ago, and employed at their peak, some 500 contractors to add to their 500-700 employees.  That's a lot of contractors, and the result was a vendor list of the top staffing firms in St Louis.

The problem?  Working with AB is a bit like working for Walmart.  They bring you a lot of revenue, but once you're in, you're terrified of losing their business, and scramble to put your best people on the account.  You've heard of the 80/20 rule?  80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients?  With AB, for several firms in St Louis, 80% might be a bit low.  One Client shops aren't that strange in the recruiting world.  When an account manager has a good client, you want to work with them as much as possible, and there was definitely a ego piece to working with AB.  Contractors liked it, and so did you friends and family.  Anheuser-Busch was the holy grail of employment in St. Louis.  That was true for a long time for both full time employees and contractors.  It wasn't just the two cases of free beer.   

So what happens now? Patrick Thibodeau of Computer World writes about the possible impact of the merger.

The future for Anheuser-Busch's IT may be in outsourcing. In 2005, InBev outsourced its IT functions, including its data center, to IBM and its global communications infrastructure to BT Global Services. More than 160 InBev IT employees were transferred to IBM. InBev followed that move a year later with further consolidations as it moved to shared services.

InBev's decision three years ago to outsource its IT department fits with a general trend of companies deploying IT outsourcing to help prepare for mergers and acquisitions, said Linda Cohen, an analyst at Gartner Inc. "It just makes the deal easier," she said. And unless an acquiring company is experiencing problems with its current outsourcing relationship, merging firms will often extend their outsourcing arrangements to the acquisition. "Once you start outsourcing, you tend to do more of it," she said.

InBev likes to use managed outsourcing, which could mean IBM, Accenture, EDS, or another company coming in and running the show.  Anyone who has been through a merger like that knows it doesn't work out for the staffing firm.  Margins have to be squeezed to accomodate the new managed service, and when margins are tight (which they are), the only recourse is to cut the contractor or drop off the vendor list.

Continue reading "The Effect Of The Anheuser-Busch Merger On The St Louis Staffing Market" »

Getting Recruiting Bloggers Into Newspapers

I got started as a recruiting blogger going through newspaper employment sections.  The advice that was given was so incredibly bad that I felt the need to call these syndicated columnists out on the carpet.

From interview weakness questions to negotiating salaries, columnist advice in newspapers is embarrassingly bad.  It's the symptom of distance.  Syndicated columnists don't look for jobs the same way that the people who read the employment section of the newspaper do.  They're far removed from the actual, day-to-day employment process.  And it shows.

I'm a long way from writing furious scribes on this topic here and at, and my choice of topic has moved from candidate-focused to business focused, but there are a lot of fresh and not so fresh voices in the recruiting blogosphere that day in and day out are providing fantastic advice to the average job-seeker.

I'm talking about people like Jason Alba and Chris Russell and Louise Fletcher, who regularly put out fantastic advice that peels back the problems of employment process and helps people get jobs.

Continue reading "Getting Recruiting Bloggers Into Newspapers" »

Ironic E-mails From eGrabber

eGrabber sent me what looks like a bulk advertising solicitation this morning. It's pretty funny, as they are promoting a tool that grabs contact information from the web.  I don't mind businesses sending me information - my role in the online recruiting community has been one of breaking news, evaluating products, and building  buzz.  It is strange when I get bad e-mails, though, and I post this only as an instructional lesson.

  Hi, (Your formatting is off.  The Hi is too far to the right- and don't you know my real name?  If you're  bragging about contact information, shouldn't you at least use my real name)

I am Smith, a Marketing  Associate at eGrabber, Inc ( <> ). (Come on, we know this isn't your real nameWhy go through the trouble of writing a name down if you're not going to be a live person?)

eGrabber is the leading Silicon Valley-based provider of data  capture automation engines. eGrabber's tools quickly capture contact  information found on web sites, emails and other places and transfer them to  ACT!/GoldMine/Outlook for immediate follow-up. (I like that you call yourself the leading Silicon Valley provider.  I wonder if there is a provider in Duluth, MN that is better for me?)

I am looking for  Advertising/Partnership opportunities to promote our products (through banner  advertisements/ stand alone email ads). (what is a partnership opportunity?  Are you offering me a chance to buy into your company?  And why use slashes instead of and/or, it's annoying/poorgrammar.)

We have a newsletter subscriber  base of 55K, and our audience will be a good fit to promote your  products.(You have an extra space after subscriber.  And if you don't even know my name, how do you know what products I'm selling.  How do you even know I'm selling products?)

Let me know if we could work out some sort of a barter deal  (or) a co-registration deal. I am pretty sure that both our organizations can  benefit immensely from a venture of this nature. Please feel free to reply to  this email. I look forward to hearing from  you.

Smith  - Marketing Associate - eGrabber Inc

Barter?  Look buddy, I take cash, not chickens in payment for my services.  I do agree you can benefit from my services, but maybe an editor or some live person checking your e-mail would be a better first step.  For a company that says they are expert at finding contact information, you've just provided a very poor example of gathering contact information.  I don't know what site or what company you're trying to pitch to, but a little homework upfront would have made a difference.  I do have products to sell, but there's not a chance I'd let you in on it if you take so little care with your e-mail marketing.

Tell you what.  Smith, if that's your real name, if you are reading this, contact me, and we'll talk about changing the piece.  If you were serious about partnering, I would think you at least have an interest in reading the blog.  If not, and Smith is an imaginary name, well, consider us to have an imaginary partnership, and I'll put up an imaginary  banner ad for you.