Listening to candidates

Originally appeared on Social Media Explorer

My beloved dad, who we lost last month, always liked to point out to me that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason. He liked to tell me this because I talk a lot. And loud. Now, we have social platforms that let everyone talk, a lot. And loud. And where there are people, there are brands and employers who are excited to talk a lot and loudly to anyone who will listen. Social media provides employers with an additional channel to communicate with people interested in working for them. More and more employers are getting involved in social recruiting to get their message out to the audience.

As I wrote last month, too few employers are using social to advance the relationship with candidates and educate them on what it really means to join their company. After that post, I realized, that there is a lot of social strategy being developed, but maybe not a lot of listening strategy to support it.

To be perfectly transparent, I am guilty of propagating this problem. In the early years of social media, I was fortunate enough to be advising a trailblazing employer on the benefits of social being a platform to dialog with interested candidates and not a monologue platform to post jobs. My work with them produced a very good return on their investment including a better quality candidate, but the strategy was focused again on the talking and the mouth. What was missing from that strategy was the ears.

Listen Before You Talk

Today when I am building a social and digital strategy, I start with the ears. I do this because I now firmly believe that you cannot develop a content strategy without understanding the conversations that are happening about your employer brand, your open positions, the candidate experience and so on. Well, you can develop a content strategy, but without this layer of candidate conversation context, you are guessing what they want. With active listening, we don’t have to guess, you can get the pulse of candidates, recent hires, people who are exiting the organization and so on. We can hear what’s being said on the Internet about working at your company through the entire candidate and employee life cycle.

Think of the impact this could have not only on candidate attraction and tailoring the marketing message to attract the right talent, but also how could listening impact retention. Listening would provide employers with greater insight into challenges going on at the company to make changes that will positively impact retention. We can essentially take the bullhorn we are using to talk to candidates, turn it around and use it to listen to their conversations so that we can help inform, guide, counsel and advance the conversation. Listening can provide insights that you may have never thought about. You may discover something incredibly powerful about your candidates, your employees and people who are leaving the company that you never knew simply by listening to the social conversation. Active social listening is the ears in the social equation.

Impacting the Candidate Experience

We all talk a lot about Candidate Experience, you know, with our mouths. But, in this very dominant conversation, we very rarely use our ears. What if you could hear from candidates about their experience? What if it was unfiltered? For example, what if you searched for conversations happening about interviewing at your company that happen on social platforms. Do you think you would learn something about the candidate’s perception of the experience? And do you further think it would impact how your have designed the experience? Did you know that candidates tell their friends you ask silly questions in the interview? Would that change the way you train your hiring managers? Well, it should. It’s the ears.

Think of it this way, social listening beats the snot out of surveying new employees and exit interviews. Social listening provides peer-to-peer information, not employee-to-employer communications. People are more likely to share their real joy and sorrow on Facebook in a completely different way than they would on an exit interview. Social listening provides more honesty. It’s more authentic and it is chock full of insights to build processes, response models, and messaging platforms around. Listening is so powerful for your candidate experience, retention and social strategies. Now, I’ll stop typing and listen to your comments…

I am looking for the right brand to partner with on a listening project. If you think you’re brand could benefit from this, hit the “Get in Touch” button at the top left.