Luring ‘Specialized’ candidates through social HR

I’m really fortunate to be in a job that I love at a company that’s a great fit for me. But so many people in a variety of industries and careers are struggling right now to find a job — and they also want to make sure it’s the right job. Likewise, companies want to hire the best candidates who can get the work done but who also fit in with the company culture. Often this matchmaking is difficult because each side doesn’t effectively articulate what it’s looking for — especially on the company side.

Sure, plenty of corporate sites have dry and bland “Careers” sections that give a few paragraphs on the company environment with (sometimes stock) photos of happy looking people in generic conference rooms. Then they dump the job seeker into a dizzying maze of job search queries (function, business unit, department, location, etc.).

If finding the right talent is so important to companies, why are so few taking advantage of social media and other avenues to help them communicate to job seekers what they’re looking for? It’s fairly quick and easy these days to add context to a careers Web site and give candidates a lot more information about what to expect.

One company that is doing it right is Specialized (Disclaimer 1: I’m a loyal Jamis rider. But the Tarmac is one sexy bike. Disclaimer 2: Team Saxo Bank rides Specialized and I love Frank Schleck). The most prominent feature on the Careers section of its Web site? Videos. Embedded from YouTube, these videos interview employees and describe some of the interesting benefits Specialized employees receive. You get a nice sense of not only what the company offers, but also what the people who work there are like.

What’s most impressive is this video interview with Specialized’s director of HR. She tells candidates exactly what the company is looking for and what job seekers need to do to land a gig there:

She answers the real questions that most job seekers want to know. What kind of people are you looking for? What do you want to see in a cover letter? What are the steps in the hiring process? How can I impress you in the interview?

Specialized could have easily listed out this information on its site, but the video interview makes a much greater impact. What’s more, the videos on the site can be easily shared and linked to. Maybe a job seeker realizes that the company isn’t a good fit for him or her, but knows of someone who would be great at Specialized. A few clicks and that person can post a link to the YouTube video to a friend’s Facebook page.

Companies don’t have to dive headlong into a social media strategy before they’re ready, but quick hits like this are a relatively easy way to connect with an audience in a more personal and engaging way.

7 thoughts on “Luring ‘Specialized’ candidates through social HR

  1. Good post, Amy.

    You ask some very interesting questions. I’d argue that many jobs, particularly with regard to social media, defy classic categorizations. Jobs have been specialized over the past 60 or 70 years, something that has resulted in many people being good at one skill set but lacking in others. How many technical folks do you know who don’t understand the business? How many business end users aren’t tech-savvy?

    These are extremes, but many companies don’t know what they want. I saw a post recently from a job board. The organization wanted someone with twelve years of social media experience.

    Really? I wasn’t aware that social media had been around that long.

    • Thanks for your comment. It’s really important that companies discuss and define what they are looking for, not only overall in the “corporate culture” sense of the word but also for each specific job opening. I think Specialized tackles the first part well in the series of videos on its career site – the next step is of course having realistic job postings that focus on what the expected skill set is.

  2. Videos are becoming more accessible in the last 3 years based upon the volume of hiring a company does. Many companies are trying to find the best way to display the culture of the organization to ensure that people know what they are applying to. Unfortunately, too many candidates feel they are qualified for way more then what they are so hopefully as career sections expand more companies will be able to utilize this. I think you’ll see more of this as the revenue to support it becomes available. HR and Talent Acquisition are not profit generators so when it comes to technology they (or we I dare say) tend to lag behind the rest of an organization.

    • It’s great that video has gotten so fast and easy to produce. You’re right in that “cost center” functions like HR often aren’t given the money to take on projects like these. While it definitely looks like Specialized had professional shooting and editing to create the video, it’s still possible for companies to even use a $200 pocket video camera and get useable results. You certainly want it to look professional but sometimes the non-slick videos feel a little more organic and give a better sense of what a company is like. I hope that more companies follow Specialized’s lead and are more open with candidates about what they’re looking for and what to expect. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

      • Interestingly enough I ended up seeing this video again yesterday after I read your post. Paul Fahey from Zone5 spoke at the Capital Region Recruiters Network last night about Recruitment Branding and he had this video plugged in to his presentation as well. You are also spot on with the use of the Flip cams. Marissa at Linium Staffing does a weekly series of videos to educate job seekers from her experiences as a new recruiter. Good stuff.

  3. Thanks for the inspiration, Amy. You just motivated me to develop a video like this for our firm.

    Recently, we had a tough search for a new employee. A few common themes kept emerging from the “no” candidates: poor preparation, lack of insightful questions on our business and a general feeling of passivity. I think we need to do a better job of helping our interviewees understand what our “bar” is…and what they need to do to jump over it.

  4. @Elizabeth- I can totally relate to your situation. It is so important that we immediately let people know who we are, what we stand for, and what is expected. I see so many companies not being upfront about these things and two things happen. 1) They higher people who don’t get this and have problems or 2) can’t find a person to fill a position.

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