Greg Savage believes that many recruitment companies approach recruiting like they did years ago. Building a brand matters more than ever before in a knowledge economy, where you need to hire the best talent.
We chatted with seasoned recruiting expert and keynote speaker Greg Savage, who has founded companies such as Recruitment Solutions, Firebrand Talent Search and People2People, and spent the last three years serving as an advisor on the boards of recruitment companies globally. In 2016, Savage was named Australia’s top business voice on Twitter by BrandData.
Savage has been in the industry since well before the advent of social media, and he has a savage truth to tell: recruitment is merging with marketing, and he believes that every recruitment company should act and behave like a digital marketing agency.
“My industry, recruitment, I love it, I’ve been in it for 35 years, but it’s very slow to change,” says Savage. "There are plenty of people running recruitment companies who don’t understand the importance of digital marketing, SEO, content marketing and having a social footprint.” In some cases, they actually work against it, which he thinks is the beginning of the end for them.
Related: How to Succeed in Social Recruiting
Social recruiting through committed engagement
Many recruiters live in the psyche of the old days, Savage believes, where recruitment is about running an ad and attracting people already looking for a job. Yet the percentage of people looking is merely a fraction of the people who will move jobs. One of the ways to be a specialist recruiter is to build talent communities, build an employer brand and use automated and content marketing to engage with people before they’re looking for a job.
One mistake companies make, Savage says, after they acknowledge that they need to be on social is that they hire a junior person to do their social updates – or even worse – tell someone from within the company to put up a few tweets and do some blogging, thinking they are now committed.
“The first thing I tell companies is that the owners of the company or management have to get social themselves. If you want to be successful in recruiting, you have to grasp the importance of a brand. Building a social footprint takes a lot of time and the recruitment industry tends to have a very short-term mindset. People want results immediately, and they don’t understand that it takes years. You can make this your life’s passion.”
In addition to time, success takes small things. This means for example having a career site optimized for mobile. People do everything on their mobile phone and they look at jobs on their phones, even when they’re not really looking for one, Savage points out.
When it comes to technology, the approach has to be applicant-first. If people talking about technology and recruitment only refer to making the process more efficient, cutting out the middleman, making it totally digital so they don’t have to speak to candidates, “they’re getting the wrong end of the stick.” The first measure of any technology initiative should be whether it improves the candidate experience of applying to a company.
“We hear the word 'disruption' a lot and people struggle with innovation, and I think what people think they’ve got to do by innovation is that they have to create something massive, huge.” This is not necessarily so. “What you need is incremental innovation, lots of small steps. You need to just examine everything in your business and say "why do we still do that?". And you might have a good reason for doing it, but you also might say, we could do it differently.”
Honing individual brands online
Individuals feel the same pressure for online branding as recruiters. Professionals can build up their personal brands on social media through small measures. By optimizing one’s social media profiles, which according to Savage, means sanitizing them of any unwanted material and making sure they’re full of the appropriate things such as the right keywords, individuals can make themselves more findable for the smartest recruiters who have become online talent hunters.
Social media also provides the opportunity, if not responsibility, for job applicants to assess potential employers like never before. Companies are no longer in charge of their PR, and anyone can find out more about the employer brand on social than they can from the company’s website, Savage points out. Sites like Glassdoor provide more formal employer reviews. “People believe reviews more than they believe employer-crafted publicity”.
Employee retention is the best retention tool
Employee referrals are one of the most effective ways to capture top talent and support building an online brand. With changing jobs becoming more mainstream, and life-long jobs more a myth than reality, employee turnover is a real cost for companies. So how can companies make sure that they hold on to their best talent and keep them happy?
Savage, who has interviewed countless people during his career looking to change jobs, says that most often the reason for wanting to make that change is because they feel like they’ve stagnated and not learning anymore. “The biggest retention tool is to make sure that people are learning and growing”.