How Hays Became the No. 1 Staffing Agency on LinkedIn

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg


Hays-an svejsan. Being engaging on social is hard when you’re in the recruitment business. Candidates are only really interested in hearing from you when you have the right role for them. So how can you make sure to stay interesting over time to both professionals and potential clients?

I’ve spoken to Catherine Gutsell of Hays, a global recruiting group that was recently recognised as the most socially engaged staffing agency on LinkedIn globally. Have a listen to the interview on iTunes, SoundCloud or keep reading for a summary.

Tell us about Hays and what you do?

Hays is a leading global professional recruiting group. We have over 9,000 staff and operate from 252 offices in 33 countries across 20 industries. We place people into temporary, contract and permanent roles and operate across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. Last year we placed around 67,000 candidates into permanent jobs, and around 220,000 people into temporary assignments.

I have been with Hays for four years and currently head up the social and content team at Group level, and sit alongside our PR, Brand and Data Marketing teams who work on a global level.

We, like all brands, have seen the way that our customers communicate has evolved; hence social media is a key strategic priority for our business, across all countries and regions. Our social media presence is large, and has historically been focused on LinkedIn, but we are seeing some fantastic growth across our other social channels – this large reach helps widen our talent pool, making it easier and quicker for us to find the right candidates for our clients.

Social media numbers:

The focus of my role is to implement and refine our global social and content strategy with the aim attracting clients and candidates to Hays, and ensuring that Hays is front of mind for anyone looking for a new role, or building a team.

As such, a big part of my role is focused on content – from idea conception, to creation, to promotion, to repurposing to measurement – I’m involved in the entire process at a global level. My obsession over the past few years has been on creating high quality content which helps our audience tackle a challenge they are facing, or helps them solve a problem – we use social media to provide our audience with something of value, every day without fail. We also ensure that each piece of content works as hard for us as possible – for instance, once we publish a new blog post, we will also repurpose this onto Slideshare, into visual social graphics and into a LinkedIn Publisher blog – this ensures the reach of our content is maximised, with little effort.

We operate a ‘Hum, Sing and Shout’ content marketing model across social media. Hum, being our everyday content which we share daily, Sing, being our bigger content assets such as salary guides, and Shout, being our bigger brand-led pieces such as the Hays Global Skills Index.

What are your overall business objectives and challenges?

  1. To develop long-lasting relationships with our audience, so that we are seen as their trusted advisor throughout their careers. The challenge here is that in some cases, a candidate can become a client, so we need to take this journey into account. Using social media to nurture talent pools.
  2. Increase consultant productivity – to ultimately enable our consultants get the best candidates to clients faster than anyone else. Clients and candidates interact with us in multiple evolving ways, using various channels and it is part of our philosophy to recognise and quickly respond to these trends. One of these trends has been social media, especially LinkedIn. Therefore, we actively educate and empower our consultants to actively share jobs they are recruiting for and content with their networks every day. By encouraging our employees to share Hays content with their LinkedIn networks, we are reaching a wider audience, as our employees. This has been a challenge as social media activity is not always front of mind for our recruitment consultants.
  3. Maintaining our leading position in mature markets such as the UK and Australia, and increasing exposure to less mature markets. One of the key challenges we face from a content marketing point of view is addressing the issue of languages, and striking the right balance between regional and globally relevant content

How did Hays become the most socially engaged staffing agency on LinkedIn?

  1. Our content – we have the highest LinkedIn content marketing score in our industry. The Content Marketing Score – is a measurement of how our audience engages with our content across the different facets of LinkedIn, including our LinkedIn company page, employee shares, employee blog posts and in LinkedIn groups. Every day, across each of these facets of LinkedIn, we share high quality content, which helps our audience tackle a challenge they are facing, or helps them solve a problem – we use social media to provide our audience with something of value. We make sure our social sharing copy speaks directly to our audience which grabs attention in busy newsfeeds. We publish content that is varied in formats – blog posts, Slideshares, reports, video, graphics as well as mobile and tablet optimised. We actively ask our audience what they want us to write about, and take their comments on board. Moreover, we’re constantly measuring, refining and improving content. We do all of this consistently, and it is what our audience has come to expect of us.
  2. Buy-in from senior stakeholders across the business – starting with Alistair Cox, our CEO. Our managing directors understand the value of LinkedIn, they advocate its use, are personally active, which sets a great example to our consultant population, which leads me on to my third point.
  3. Our recruiters actively use LinkedIn – we educate and empower our consultants to use LinkedIn every day to engage with clients and candidates. We have a very strong training team at Hays – and that starts with new joiners – new starters are training on how to set up an effective LinkedIn profile, and provided with top tips on how to maximise LinkedIn as a candidate generation and business development tool. This training is delivered through a variety of factsheets, face-to-face training and webinars. We also train our consultants on how to create an effective online personal brand by connecting with relevant people, joining relevant groups and sharing interesting and relevant content.
  4. Employee advocacy on social – we provide our consultants with the tools to share relevant content consistently on social media, in a time efficient way and in a way that demonstrates the results of social sharing to them. Why? Employees who are socially engaged are 57% more likely to generate more leads and content shared by employees drives 8x higher engagement than company content.
  5. Finally, we also have nearly 100 employees actively using LinkedIn Publisher to post blogs – in October alone, this generated 173k page views and 18.9k interactions.

What mistakes have you made along the journey?

In the past, we had a tendency to create content which may have been perceived to be too academic and possibly too high brow. What we’ve realised over the last couple of years, is that keeping it simple is what works. It’s so important to not forget who your customer is when creating content, and create content that speaks directly to them.

Another lesson we have learnt is also not to focus too heavily on content views and aiming for high content views continuously – as for some of our niche pieces of content, the views may be lower, but we know that the right people are reading and engaging with the content, and that’s what matters.

What campaigns or initiatives are you most proud of?

One of our on-going initiatives, which forms the basis of our everyday ‘hum’ content which is shared on LinkedIn and other social channels, is our external blog, Viewpoint. Viewpoint is managed by my team and the content is focused on mainly on advice – job searching, careers, interviews, leadership and management etc. Each blog is authored by a senior stakeholder at Hays, people who are on the front-line of the business, and speak to clients and candidates every day – they know what challenges our audience is facing, so are best placed to write blogs to help them tackle these issues. We have 60 Hays authors from around the world, and publish 3-4 new blogs per week. So far this year, we have had over 1.5million visits to the blog, and on average each blog is shared over 1,000 times.

As I said earlier, we try to ensure each piece of content we create, works as hard for us as possible. So, we work with the regional marketing teams to repurpose and translate the Viewpoint content for their local audiences, and also repurpose into different formats – blog posts, Slideshares, reports, video, graphics

Alistair Cox, the Hays CEO, has been a LinkedIn Influencer since 2012 – what impact has this had?

Alistair publishes LinkedIn Influencer content on a monthly basis, and has now amassed over 185,000 followers around the world. In fact, he was named by LinkedIn as one of the top 10 leaders on LinkedIn, alongside Richard Branson and David Cameron, which was a fantastic achievement, for both him personally, and for our business.

Alistair’s presence and activity on LinkedIn, has really helped not only drive his reputation as a respected leader, but also helped Hays become perceived as a socially engaged company. Also, some research indicated that 82% consumers trust a company more if the CEO has a social media voice.

Lastly, as I said previously, Alistair’s presence on LinkedIn sets a great example for our consultant population, and also empowers them to be active on LinkedIn.

What’s the ROI on being socially engaged and how do you measure it?

Some of the stats shared by LinkedIn include:

  • Hays LinkedIn followers are 3x more likely to apply for a Hays job after viewing it than non-Hays followers
  • Hays followers are 75% more likely to respond to an InMail sent by Hays than if they were not a follower of Hays
  • 12.2% of Hays followers applied to a Hays job in 2015
  • 43.6% of Hays followers viewed a Hays job in 2015
  • 2.5m Job views from followers

For every 6 pieces of content one of our consultants share on LinkedIn, they will generate:

  • 6 views of their LinkedIn profile
  • 3 LinkedIn company page views
  • 1 Hays LinkedIn company page follower
  • 2 new LinkedIn connections
  • 6 views of Hays jobs on LinkedIn

What’s the next big thing for Hays?

From a content marketing point of view, we are placing much more emphasis and focus on creating rich media content, particularly video and utilising tools such as Facebook Live.

We are also exploring other platforms, particularly Instagram, which we’ve found typically generates 4x higher engagement for us than Facebook, and really helps us to provide potential employees with a window into what it’s really like to work for Hays, on a less corporate channel. We are also exploring ways in which we can increase employee amplification on other networks outside of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, particularly on Instagram – on which hundreds of our consultants are already posting about their experiences of working at Hays, using the #WeAreHays hashtag.

Follow Catherine on Twitter @CatGutsell.


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