This is an interview by Sue Churchill talking to Jorgen Sundberg of Link Humans, published in the January 2012 edition of Nursery Management Today.
So, are you on LinkedIn? Do you tweet? Do you spend time on Facebook, perhaps? I’m not advocating contacting your ‘friends’ in spare moments at work, but using social media as a business tool. Already, many organisations have absorbed social media into their marketing and PR: according to Newtek Business Services, 57 per cent of businesses use them to attract new customers – and that could mean parents – while 58 per cent chat with customers to boost their visibility and build closer relationships.
But what has this got to do with recruiting? First, the traditional ways of recruiting are simply not working well enough. Sadly, sales of local papers are slumping. Jobcentres simply provide an online listing and the chance your vacancies might be put in front of an unemployed person with the wrong – or no – qualifications. Even recruitment websites like monster.co.uk, according to Jorgen Sundberg, are losing out. Social media, however, are here to stay.
So, what is it about social media that is fast turning them into an increasingly important recruitment medium for dynamic businesses? According to Jorgen, the clue is in their strong people-to-people role, which enables you to fuse marketing to recruitment. The exciting thing is that, unlike the traditional recruitment routes, it enables you to target the sort of people who would want to book your nursery places or work with you. In other words, your marketing communications can succeed in creating a highly targeted recruitment pool.
Hence, Jorgen’s advice is first to set up LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and next take a marketing approach, which enables you to build a community that is interested in what you do and what you have to say. Chances are, some of them will say to themselves, “They’re fun, on the ball and full of good ideas. Hmm, I wouldn’t mind working for them…”
How do you generate that sort of interest? Jorgen suggests you think of yourself – and your nursery – as a product. What are its strengths? What makes it distinctive or different? What do you do well? What’s new? That will help you decide what you’re ‘selling’. As people respond to your posts, news and tweets, they will start to get interested, get to know you and – bingo! You’re on your way to building your own active online business community.
Convert your fans
Your starting point towards this is to convert all your offline fans. You can do this by:
- Ending your emails with links to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn G adding links to your website so
- Visitors can follow up their interest with more detail, downloads and so on
- Emailing all your contacts that you’re now tweeting, on Facebook and LinkedIn – and providing the links
- Adding your Twitter and LinkedIn details to all of your marketing and other communication activities.
Interlink your social media
Your next task is to interlink all your social media – not as difficult as you might think, as they all have help pages and guides. With Facebook, for example, one option is to scroll down to the bottom of your profile, where you will find the icon for creating a Facebook badge, which creates the link to other social media and to your website. Twitter and LinkedIn also have instructions and helpful tips.
Very soon, visitors will be able to hop from one to the other because you’re so interesting they simply can’t keep away. Jorgen sees Twitter as the key to this, and uses the analogy of an octopus, with Twitter as the “outermost tentacles” drawing your prey back to Facebook, LinkedIn and, of course, your website. If you’re recruiting, you can then guide applicants towards more details about the job opportunities and a downloadable application form.
So, Twitter is rather more important than it might at first sight appear, particularly when you consider that it has built up over 300 million users since its 2006 launch in the USA. While undoubted fun, it can also be trickier than you think to write something others want to read in just 140 characters. Practice makes perfect, however, and it needs to, as Jorgen recommends tweeting three or so times a day. Get it right, and you will be able to feed the love of gossip that rules most of us, while generating interest in your setting. Read more about how the experts do it in Susan McGhee’s article on page 48.
Incidentally, recruitment is not the only end here: your Twitter followers and friends are very likely to include parents, who might be prompted to register their little darlings with you as well as volunteering with you with a view to eventually applying for a job.
Of course, when you are looking to fill a job vacancy, you do start off by telling the people you know and meet, don’t you?
However, back to the topic, how do you make your tweets attractive? There is a load of rubbish out there, but that doesn’t mean you have to be poker-faced: “Silly is OK,” says Jorgen, who advises a chatty tone and the emphasis on news and updates – the latest fun day, new play equipment, trips, staff successes, even the kids’ Top 10 favourite lunches – and, of course, your job vacancies (which are featured in more detail on your website, Facebook and LinkedIn). All the time, aim to keep them flowing so your followers start thinking, “I wonder what so and so nursery is up to today?”
At the same time as building your own following, be sure that you also follow like-minded people – from parents to early years experts to children’s entertainers (you can do searches to identify suitable people and organisations). You will gradually build up a following, then a community where people canexchange ideas, find suppliers, sell services – and recruit staff. Be patient – it will come.
Once you have a flow of people following you on Twitter and making contact through Facebook and LinkedIn, then you can start thinking about recruitment. This is where it can get really interesting, for you are potentially targeting specific groups for specific jobs much more accurately than ever before.
Take Facebook with its 800 million users globally and its democratic spread, which makes it ideal for recruiting practitioners – from the ready qualified to trainees or parents wanting to develop skills. The dedicated Facebook user – your recruitment pool – will almost certainly have a Facebook app for their smart phone, which gives you potential access to a huge number of mobile phone addicts as they update their Facebook page while out and about. Unlikely? Not according to research, which tells us that 50 per cent of Facebook updates are now done via an app on a mobile phone.
On that basis, you should aim to update your Facebook page daily in order to create more interest and make it worth visiting – again and again. As well as tweeting your vacancies and directing them to your website, Jorgen strongly recommends Facebook ads, which are on the right of your Facebook page. Usefully, you can choose who actually sees the ad by filtering for age, location, training and interests.
From the options available, Jorgen favours paying by the click (each time someone clicks on to your ad for details), which could cost from 5p to £1.50 a click, depending on popularity. This way you know exactly what you’re paying for. You can also set a daily budget. Don’t worry if you don’t get many clicks, for your ad is more precisely targeted than it could be in a local paper.
As for writing the ad, the old rules apply: include the key facts; dare to be different; include an eye-catching visual; conform with equality legislation; use it as an opportunity to promote your nursery. Then check this links with LinkedIn and your website and alert your Twitter followers.
Recruiting senior staff
But what about your more senior positions at management or director level? Don’t even think about Facebook, which is almost too democratic. Your best bet is LinkedIn, with its 120 million users like you: the average user is graduate, white collar, 42 years old and earning £62,000 a year. These professionals work LinkedIn to generate ideas, pick up tips, learn from each other, promote services, find suppliers – and talented people who will fit in.
Jorgen advises checking your LinkedIn account three or four times a week in order to update it and follow up potential contacts. As a first step towards recruiting, he suggests that, as with Twitter and Facebook, you build your preferred community round areas of common interest. You can then search through the profiles of other users and see what talent is out there, perhaps investigate other nurseries, look at their senior staff, see who’s moving or on the move and identify who might fit into your business.
One advantage if you don’t object to poaching, is that, according to Graham Snowdon from The Guardian, LinkedIn’s corporate recruitment tool allows access to the 90 per cent of passive users, in other words, individuals who are not actively looking for a job. But you can also reach those who are considering moving, as the site uses predictive algorithms that can identify those with itchy feet by identifying tiny changes in their profiles, for example.
Certainly, you are spoilt for choice, as companies are moving towards this site in droves, which is indicated by the growing tendency for corporate websites to feature on their recruitment pages an ‘apply with LinkedIn’ button. Is the LinkedIn public profile going to take over from the CV? Certainly, it’s an excellent indicator of the applicant’s commitment. If it is up to date, well written and pertinent, it suggests the applicant is competent and a self- starter.
So, are you a member of the growing social media community? If not, why not? Do you also have problems recruiting suitable staff by traditional methods? Then, go on: invest time – and save money – with an online recruitment drive. And let us know how you get on.
For more social recruiting ideas, see how Deloitte uses social media to recruit in the Netherlands.