Getting Hired: The Simple But Overlooked Steps Every Candidate Must Take In The Networked Economy

By Tony Restell

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Updated 31 August 2012

Tony Restell, Founder of Social-Hire.com


With so much recruiting activity having shifted to social media platforms, what are the essential steps every candidate must take? Or is it just jobhunting as usual?


As I sit down to write this piece, I can sense it’s going to be one of the longest I’ve ever published.


I feel I owe it to you though. Anything less would be a disservice to candidates all around the world.


You see from my position inside the online recruitment industry, I’m constantly confronted by how much things have changed in the jobs market. If your last career move was more than 18 months ago, the chances are you have much to learn need to completely rethink your strategy to help ensure you succeed in your next career move.


That’s why I wanted to write this piece, so that in a short space of time you can understand what you need to be doing differently to succeed in today’s job market. So please grab yourself a coffee, get comfy – and then I’ll share my candidate nuggets for finding your next job in the networked economy.


Getting Hired: The Simple But Overlooked Steps Every Candidate Must Take In The Networked Economy (Part I)


Let me start by spelling out the four fundamental changes that have hit the jobs market like a steam roller. Then we’ll look at how you can adapt to benefit from each of these changes and to position yourself for success in today’s jobs market:
 

  • Change #1: Social Media has empowered employers to build their own in-house recruitment practices
     

  • Change #2: Social Media has made it possible for recruiters to engage with candidates in powerful new ways
     

  • Change #3: Social Media has opened up the possibility of hiring far more staff through referral channels
     

  • Change #4: Social Media gives recruiters a whole new insight into your strengths and weaknesses as a candidate

 



 

Change #1: Social Media has empowered employers to build their own in-house recruitment practices


Sometimes technological advances result in incremental changes to the way things are done. Sometimes they have a far more profound effect. The changes we are seeing here are shaking the recruitment industry at its very core.


Before LinkedIn, employers’ internal recruitment teams were mostly geared to handling applications from candidates who wanted to work in their businesses. That’s to say they handled inbound applications from candidates, be they generated via the company website, jobs boards, careers fairs or any other route that flushed out candidate interest in the business.


Historically, internal recruitment teams never had the giant candidate databases that allowed headhunters and recruitment firms to approach candidates who weren’t actively considering joining their business. They were therefore mostly limited to fishing in the relatively small pool of candidates who had already shown an interest in joining.


The arrival of job boards - and their online candidate databases - eroded the strength of recruitment firms to a small degree, opening up to internal recruitment teams the possibility of approaching vast numbers of less engaged candidates. Yet recruitment firms still had a major advantage. These online databases contained only the resumes of candidates who were already pre-disposed to moving. They did nothing to help internal recruitment teams approach more passive candidates or hitherto contented executives. To reach these, a recruitment firm would still need to be engaged.


Social media – most notably LinkedIn – has changed that forever.


Around the globe, major employers have been setting up new recruitment teams whose sole goal is to build inhouse search capabilities that historically have been the preserve of established recruitment businesses.


Prior to the last 18 months, employers would historically have reacted to a surge in hiring demand within the business in the following order: 1) post almost all jobs on job boards; 2) put vast numbers of assignments out with recruitment firms on a no-hire, no-fee basis; and 3) as a last resort, hire additional recruiting staff to cope with the increased demand.


Since the LinkedIn party came to town, this order has been turned on its head.


Major employers have now hired sizeable recruitment teams to deliver on requirements in-house. A surge in hiring demand within a business is now dealt with as follows: 1) pass the jobs to the internal recruitment team and give them the opportunity to source candidates directly via LinkedIn (and other social media). For most businesses, there is zero incremental cost to try and recruit for a new position this way; 2) place some of these roles as adverts on job boards, which for incremental hires are no longer the cheapest sourcing option available to the business; and 3) where these options are not delivering – or the role is absolutely business critical – put assignments out with recruitment firms in the hope that they can tap into other sources of candidates.


Before we continue any further, I cannot overstate how significant a change this has been. It’s not evolution in the recruiting market, it’s a revolution. And revolutions require that people change - candidates included.


Perhaps I should spell out what this means for you...


Back peddle just a few years and a good candidate could ensure they were being considered for most of the openings out there in the market by doing two things. Firstly by scouring job boards for suitable vacancies being advertised directly; and secondly, by working with a small number of recruitment agencies to ensure coverage across the roles not being advertised.


The shocking truth today is that a good candidate will be missing out on a huge number of potential career openings if these two things are all that they are doing.


Why is this the case?


I know from discussions about many of the world’s leading employers that they have been hauling their recruitment suppliers in for briefings. The upshot of these briefings?… "We will be trying to directly source as many candidate hires as we can. We’ve been hiring some of the best recruitment agency talent and bringing them in-house. We’ve paid for subscriptions on social media such as LinkedIn to give them access to the types of databases that historically only you have had. Recruitment agencies you can now expect to get calls to handle a tiny minority of our openings - and we’re not seeking blanket coverage of all our open positions on job boards either, we’ll be being more selective from now on."


As an aside, for me it’s not a foregone conclusion that this will prove to be the long-term model of recruitment that endures within major employer organisations. A couple of years from now, it may be that the costs of doing things this way are shown to be prohibitively high. Or maybe not. But for now, internal recruiters – and the tools that have been put at their disposal – are being given first shot at filling most vacancies that employers are creating.


It stands to reason, therefore, that if you’re not putting yourself about in the channels that internal recruitment teams are using you are de facto missing out on a wealth of career opportunities that you would previously have been tapping into.


Now let me share some statistics with you that will hopefully make my suggested course of action chime with you. When asked why they use social media for recruitment, the single biggest response – given by a staggering 84% of employers – is that they want to reach candidates who might otherwise not apply for their jobs*. Indeed recruiters revealed that it was more common for them to try to source candidates via social media than to post jobs on social media sites.


The key learning from this is that you as a candidate have to do everything you can to make yourself be more easily found by prospective employers, plus try to entice them into wanting to contact you when they do find your profile.


What actions does this mean you ought to be taking in preparation for your next career move? Very specifically, you should firstly be maximising the chances of suitable recruiters finding your profiles on social media (most notably LinkedIn); and secondly then making what they find when they arrive on your profile pages as compelling as possible.


On the first point, there are tons of social media strategies I could talk you through. Making sure you are visible on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, even here on Social-Hire. But let’s focus our attentions on LinkedIn, as that is where the single largest collection of recruiters are currently scouring the net for talent.


Let’s look first of all at the things you could be doing as a candidate to raise your awareness. There are some quick wins here that you really need to be taking care of right away...

LinkedIn - What Are Some Candidate Quick-Hit Wins On LinkedIn?


  • Completing your profile. Stats show that only 50.5% of LinkedIn Users have a completed profile**. With the ability to complete a skills profile, add project experience and a whole host of other options, there are now many new ways to add to your LinkedIn profile. Keep in mind that all of these will increase the number of keyword searches for which your profile will appear as a matching result.

    Now consider also that your whole profile should be an exercise in keyword search optimisation. What are the buzzwords in your industry at the moment, what are the key skills that recruiters are crying out for? Which clients or suppliers have you worked with and could you therefore reference in your profile?

    First and foremost, your profile has to read well. But with a bit of time invested in the exercise, it’s possible to greatly expand the number of relevant keywords that your profile contains and therefore expand the reach of your profile on the site.

     
  • Joining relevant groups. Did you know that you’re allowed to join 50 groups on LinkedIn? With thousands of new groups being created each week, there’s no shortage of relevant groups for you to join. There are several reasons for candidates to do this. Firstly your profile will start to appear in many more search results being conducted by recruiters on LinkedIn. Secondly you’re likely to entice connection requests from highly relevant contacts within your industry if they see you become a member of relevant groups. Thirdly you’ll have the chance to engage in highly targeted discussions that could further your career. Fourthly, you’ll be able to send private messages to fellow group members – even if they are not a first degree connection on LinkedIn. If you're looking for suitable groups, you'd be most welcome to join ours:  "Ask Me About Careers At..."

     
  • Expanding your connections. Did you know that 51.6% of all LinkedIn users have fewer than 200 connections**? Have you genuinely added all the professionals you’ve had business dealings or recruitment interactions with in the past? I’d bet that for 90% of you reading this, the honest answer is no…

    Expanding the number of connections you yourself have on LinkedIn has a number of knock-on benefits within the network. From a career perspective, not least of these is that you’ll start to show up in the results of far more searches being conducted by recruiters and employers. And the more times your profile is viewed, the more times your name will appear in the section “Viewers of this profile also viewed…”, which is a great place to be appearing if it’s a recruiter who is doing the searching for potential hires for their business.

     
  • Seeking endorsements / recommendations. Having some compelling recommendations on your profile is important in terms of solidifying a recruiter’s desire to contact you. We’ll talk more about this in Part II of this article. But it’s also beneficial in terms of increasing your candidate profile views on LinkedIn, since your name and profile link will appear on the profile pages of each person who has recommended you. Now think of that for just a moment. A recruiter is sourcing for candidates in your space, looks at a former colleague’s profile as a possible fit…. then sees your profile as someone that that person would recommend. Given they are looking to hire in your space, they are immediately drawn to clicking through and seeing what skillset you possess.


Right now I guess you’re probably trying to weigh up just how much of an impact all this could have on your LinkedIn visibility – and the knock-on effect this will have on the recruiter interest you are able to attract? Well the latter is clearly a function of whether or not your profile compels recruiters to want to contact you. But to satisfy you that this is worth the effort, I myself made the changes above when I was launching Social-Hire.com earlier this year. The results? Nearly a sevenfold increase in my appearances in LinkedIn search results; and a tenfold increase in the number of views of my profile page***. Just think how many more recruiters your profile could be being read by if you were able to achieve a similar increase in results!


Part I: Concluding Remarks


To all the candidates reading this piece, I genuinely hope I’ve persuaded you that the ways employers are going about hiring staff have been transformed. If I haven’t then I apologise, I have failed you.


My reason for starting on this lengthy piece is that I want to help you further your careers - and you can’t possibly fulfil your career potential if you are not keenly aware of how dramatically the recruitment landscape has changed in these last 18 months.


Hopefully you’ve reached this point with a clear understanding of how things have changed – and with a conviction that you need to go away and look at your job hunt strategy afresh.


In Part II I’ll be sharing with you further insights that are going to shape your jobhunting strategy further. I’ll be sharing how social media has made it possible for recruiters to engage with candidates in powerful new ways; how social media has opened up the possibility of hiring far more staff through referral channels; and how social media gives recruiters a whole new insight into your strengths and weaknesses as a candidate.


For now, if you’ve found this article helpful then please do share it with your contacts using the share buttons below and / or at the top right of this article page. Thank you. Tony Restell


Notes:

* Source: OnlineDegrees infographic
** Source: power+ formula 2012 LinkedIn User Survey 
*** For the increased results I’ve achieved with my own LinkedIn profile, great thanks must go to James Potter who provided expert guidance on the topic
 

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